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Friday, August 2, 2013

Fatal Descent By Beth Groundwater

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Cynthia Chow

Check out details on how to enter to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.

As the R and M of RM Outdoor Adventures, Mandy Tanner and her fiancé Rob Juarez are introducing a five-day, one-hundred mile trip down the Colorado River. Starting off in Moab, Utah, the Colorado-based co-owners will be leading a group of clients with varying degrees of rafting and camping experience through placid waters as well as the whitewater rapids of Cataract Canyon. While Mandy and Rob have experience leading and guiding vacationing rafters, the couple knows that these trips are often akin to leading preschoolers or herding cats, so they are prepared for difficult clients. However, neither of them could know that that their rafters would include a young woman who is essentially "Parent Trapping" her divorced parents into taking the trip together, three women friends ready for a flirtatious escape, or a privileged family of warring siblings with their oblivious but optimistic parents.

Mandy does her best to overlook her doubts concerning a new guide Cool O'Day, who seems overly friendly with the women and too casual with safety. She already has hands full with her other two guides who are now dating, one of whom is a recovering alcoholic. Once their trip begins the acrimonious relationships and verbal sniping of the clients takes a deeper meaning when one of them is killed in what Mandy and Rob recognize as a staged animal attack. When their equipment is destroyed and the off-season October trip means that there are few other rafters on the river, Mandy and Rob must rely on themselves to safely guide their group down the river all the while knowing that one of them is a murderer.

Image source: Midnight Ink

Although the descriptions for the beautiful scenery and power of nature will bring comparisons to the writing for Nevada Barr, the tension and menace of what is essentially a locked-room mystery brings to mind the mysteries of Dana Stabenow. While the wildlife and environment are undeniably deadly, it is ultimately the humans who prove to be the greatest threat.

Mandy is a strong and very likable character more than capable of surviving the roughest of rivers but who shudders at the thought of planning her upcoming wedding. The interactions between the rafters is written realistically and with an underlying menace that hints at the culprit but still keeps the tension high. Groundwater has written yet another exciting and suspense-filled mystery that speeds along with a swift pace to its extremely compelling conclusion.

To enter to win a copy of Fatal Descent, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Fatal”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 10, 2013. U.S. residents only.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).


  1. This sounds like an interesting mystery. I also like that it has a "Parent Trap" twist.

  2. My email is lmyost@roadrunner.com

  3. I've read all of Beth's other books and look forward to winning/ordering Fatal Descent.

  4. I'm looking forward to reading this.

  5. Love your books and I'd love to have another.

  6. It's so good to hear from existing fans and from potential new readers! Keep those contest entries coming ...
    - Beth

  7. It's good to see Beth receive such a wonderful review. She definitely deserves all the good comments because she's very talented. She brings experience from her real life to her writing and therefore gives us a vicarious thrill. I can sit and read about being on the rapids, and not even get wet!

  8. A great review that has me ready to buy the book! I love outdoor adventures and mysteries, but what really hooks me is the element of menace you note. It sounds like a mystery adventure worth reading.

  9. Beth, I've been hearing good things about this book! I look forward to reading it!

  10. I want to get me some "tension and menace"! That story sounds exciting!

  11. I love exciting fast moving mysteries, either murder or in the wild. I can't wait to read it!

  12. We have a winner!
    Lorie Ham, KRL Publisher