Burt Weissbourd creates a unique mystery novel as the reader journeys through Yellowstone Park in search of answers. Animals have begun to look and act strangely . But so do just about every character in this novel as events come to a head. The story is fast paced and slow, unorganized then laser focused. It is able to create this dynamic through its standalone characters that all get thrown into the boiling pot.
The daily happenings of Yellowstone National Park are in danger as the elk begin to grow adult sized antler too early and bears develop birth defects. But, this is no average story about seasonal hormonal changes. No – something unspeakable is happening. Actually, several awful things are happening in the forest and to the people in the town. Now Rachel and Rainey have been thrown right into the mix.
I really cannot give away much more. After about the halfway point, the story picks up the real events at the park. A lot of back stories and motives are covered in the ending. I am fine with this but perhaps it would have been a good opportunity to expand the book past almost 300 pages… But, I can see where some may find that too much was happening… that the story was no longer logical or realistic.
Yellowstone Park is the amazing backdrop to the story. At every turn, the reader is mesmerized by the park, the animals, or the other beautiful scenery of Montana. We get to see grizzlies, elk, eagles, cliff faces, raging fires, and even geysers. A few pictures exist within the story as well – considering the beautiful scenery, it actually would have been nice to see more photography. Being an outdoorsy type, I loved that all of this action was set in a national forest, which has its own protocols and goals separate from the county. It brings an additional dynamic to the story.
The excellent characterization brings this novel to life. As I mentioned, each character has his or her own story and motivations. Weissbort takes us into their heads without bogging us down in too many details. I found that some of the characters’ purposes were not clear until the end, which was a nice surprise. I don’t want to get into each character as describing them and their development might give away the ending.
Another great trick of the author’s characterization is that it’s hard to tell who the bad guys are, just as in real life. You think you know the enemy until the ugly truth is pushed into your face.
The “Ehhh….” Moments
The romance. I generally do not prefer romance in most of my novels. While I will admit that this was done in good taste, I found it to be a little unnecessary. The initial background development it provides for Rainey and Rachel was good but the following events generally did not build the story or characters. We can easily see, without the happen-upons of coitus and bitchy back-and-forth, that Rainey is motivated by Jen and that Rachel has understandably fallen in love with Rainey again.
This next moment is not a personal issue of mine but it could be for others: violence. Some violence and gory details are contained within this story. It isn’t much but fair warning if your stomach turns too easily.
I read a review which stated that this book is intriguing, but incredulous. Understandably, this reviewer has a point because the real events start looking like an episode of 24. However, I disagree. The ending may feel rushed and maybe impossible, but the point of view determines the pace. We are seeing everything through the characters’ eyes – and they do feel rushed. Their lives and the things/ people they care about are in danger. So why would they not feel as if their worlds were tumbling after them? Weissbort did a fantastic job defining his characters, plot, and landscape. I was completely submerged in this story and would recommend it to anyone.
*I have received this book in exchange for an honest review*
Title: In Velvet
Author: Burt Weissbourd
Number of Pages: 280
Original Publication: 13 May 2014
The northwest corner of Yellowstone Park is closed for bear management, and Rachel, a bear biologist, is discovering some very startling animal behavior—grizzlies denning in June, swans at their wintering grounds in summer, what appear to be Irish Elk, an extinct species, with huge palmated antlers. There are also horrific mutations in the young—elk calves with no front legs, earless bear cubs, and eaglets without wings. What has gone wrong? Why is this area closed? Who’s covering up these animal abnormalities in the Park?
A non-stop thriller set in some of North America’s wildest country, In Velvet takes you deep into the hearts of a hard case local detective and a Chicago cop as they take on a corrupt sheriff, a pathalogical poacher, and a lethal black ops manager to solve this ghastly mystery and restore the natural order in Yellowstone National Park.