Arches Enemy

Torrey House. (National Park, Bk. 5). Jun. 2019. 288p. ISBN 9781948814058. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781948814065. M
Archaeologist Chuck Bender brings his wife, paramedic Janelle Ortega, and his two stepdaughters with him for a secret job at Arches National Park, UT. Yet before he can get far into the project, charting a cave with connections to Native American history, one of the sandstone arches collapses, taking a woman with it. Although the woman wasn’t supposed to be on the arch, Chuck blames the seismic trucks that are exploring for oil and natural gas. He suspects a cover-up of that death, but it’s hard to ignore the other fatalities in the park. While he tries to protect his family from violence, Chuck discovers the mastermind behind the environmental damage might be closer than he expects. The emphasis is on natural beauty, the history of the arches and the area, and the possible devastation of the environment by the greed of politicians and the petroleum industry. However, the fifth in the series (after Yosemite Fall) also points to others’ responsibility for brutality and destruction.
VERDICT Fans of Nevada Barr’s “Anna Pigeon” series or readers of environmental mysteries may appreciate this lush tale, but those who read for character may dislike the sometimes sarcastic, sometimes unlikable protagonist.

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