"This could be the work of a madman, Tana. A bizarre, ritualistic serial murderer working in remote locations and using wild animals to cover his work."
In the Barrens, a remote wilderness area on the border of the Arctic Circle, two biology students are found dead, mauled by wolves. Or maybe by a bear. It's hard for Constable Tana Larsson, a rookie RCMP who just started working in Two Rivers, a small town in the Northwest Territories of Canada, to determine just what caused the grisly attacks. Especially when she learns there were two similar attacks four years earlier. But when she starts to investigate, no one in town seems very happy about it. Especially not Cameron "Crash" O'Halloran, a local bush pilot who she suspects of illegally flying in alcohol to Twin Rivers, among other things. For some reason Tana seems to bring out the worst in him. (Although when he finds out she's five months pregnant he suddenly gets very protective of her.) She can't trust him. She can't trust the diamond company mining diamonds in the area. And the locals keep telling her to leave it alone before she stirs up the ancient spirits that haunt the Barrens. But Tana can't let it go. No matter how dangerous it gets.
In the Barren Ground by Loreth Anne White is a chilling and suspenseful mystery. It's also a novel about imperfect and flawed characters who have made mistakes in the past and who are seeking a second chance in life. I liked both Tana and Crash. They're such a study in contrasts. Tana is young and earnest and struggling to prove herself; Crash is older, cynical, and he has his own secret agenda for being in Twin Rivers. I loved watching how their antagonistic relationship gradually changed to a partnership of cautious respect and deepening friendship. I also loved the remote setting and how it played such a significant role in this novel. And that ending! It's a good one. I'd give this book at least 4 stars.