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Monday, June 09, 2008

The Ranger and the Widow

**** The Ranger and the Widow by Lynn Erickson. Romantic suspense.

This is part of my slowly collecting Lynn Erickson's backlist.

Jim Mitchell is the chief park ranger in Canyonlands National Park, Utah, which is home to a lot of Anasazi ruins, which means archaeologists... and artifact poachers. The body he finds hanging from a tree had been one of the former--a student on a dig, and Mitch suspects the latter of being behind the murder.

The victim had also been the son of a major political campaign contributor, and there's pressure from the highest levels to solve the case. To that end, Justice Department field investigator Anne Winslow has been sent to Utah, but under the guise of evaluating the park's budget.

The murder investigation is complicated enough without the budget lady tagging along everywhere and demanding to be squired around the huge park. And Mitch's teenage daughter isn't making things any easier with her complaints about living in the park so far from civilization.

I enjoyed the setting--the national park and the ruins. It was interesting and an integral part of the story. The suspense was likewise interesting, bringing up the issue of artifact poaching. Though we knew from the beginning whodunit, there was still suspense in seeing how the case was solved and how events would develop.

I did have a couple of complaints--I thought Anne kept her identity a secret for far too long, particularly since it didn't seem to make much sense to begin with. And then Anne and Mitch have to pose as husband and wife at one point in the investigation, something that's just too much of a cliche, and also not strictly necessary. And I thought the teenage daughter's problem was far too easily solved.

The title is a little misleading. Anne is a widow, but very little is made of the fact. But then Harlequin titles can be so much worse that I'm not complaining.

Still, it was a solid read.

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