Reviewed by Kathy Stickles for Reader Views (05/2023)
“Dark Green” is an excellent first book in what is to be a new series by author Lif Strand. The story is set in New Mexico, making it a fun read for me as I live in the state and loved reading the descriptions of places that I felt I could recognize. While the story is fiction, the incidents the author used in the book are real events that have happened in New Mexico and Arizona. Thanks to her background in writing about the wolf issues in the West, Ms. Strand was able to create a great mystery surrounded by fact.
“Dark Green” is set in Mangas County, New Mexico and it looks like the county has a very serious wolf issue. Enter Special Deputy Jessie Torres, who has been employed by the sheriff’s department to spend her time examining all the livestock and pets likely killed by these wolves. It is not an enjoyable job, at least it wouldn’t seem to be for many of us, but Jessie truly enjoys her work. She gets to be outside, by herself and away from people, which makes her very happy. In addition, it is a job that must be done to keep the people and animals in the country safe and Jessie is good at it.
Unfortunately, while Jessie is trying hard to make some sense of the wilderness and deaths, this quiet county is about to be invaded by way too many people for the Fourth of July holiday. Jessie finds herself having to take time away from her isolated job to patrol with other members of the sheriff’s department to keep the very large gathering peaceful and under control. Jessie loves animals but she does not do as well with people. So, she is not happy about this turn of events. Add to that the suspicious death of someone Jessie knows quite well, and the various requests from her Native American grandmother, who is considered the ruler of the lands around the county, and Jessie’s calm, quiet existence is disappearing faster than she thought possible.
This is a thrilling mystery that includes a lot of facts about issues that are facing those who live in the West. Those two things combined make it a captivating read that I could not put down. “Dark Green” by Lif Strand is very well-written and moves along at a perfect and exciting pace. In Jessie Torres, the author gives the reader a very strong and intelligent main character that you cannot help but root for. In addition, while there are numerous other characters in the story, each one is extremely well-written and is an integral and fascinating part of the story, even if you do not necessarily agree with their actions.
The writing is very expressive and detailed, and the reader will actually feel like they are a part of the scenery and locations that are being described. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys an excellent mystery. I am already anxiously awaiting the second in the series. 5 Stars!!