Celine is a very peculiar woman. Her personal history made her become a private eye specialised in reuniting families. She has been tracking down people whom even the FBI could not locate. When Gabriela, a woman with an interesting family history, asks for her help to find her father, Celine does not immediately think of what this case might demand of her. Gabriela’s father disappeared many years ago when he, a professional photographer, was in a national park. The police suppose he was attacked by a bear, but they could never find the body. Celine and her husband agree to start the search anew. But soon they have to acknowledge that there are mighty enemies who will do everything to hinder them from discovering something.
Admittedly, I found the parts of Gabriela’s life as a girl, the strange family situation after her mother died in the ocean and her father married again, the most fascinating in the novel. They way her father’s new wife treats her, how they manage to hide from the outside world what is going wrong inside was most compelling and repellent at the same time. Yet, the search for her presumably dead father also had some interesting aspects, especially when they were looking more closely at the scene of crime and the traces.
Concerning the characters, the protagonist has some noteworthy spots, she is not the mediocre standard investigator whose private life is a mess and who is addicted to alcohol or drugs. Her family life before coming to the States and the things she hides from her own son make her outstanding in the ocean of crime novels. Peter Heller clearly has created a unique character here, but quite often she seemed a bit too peculiar to me to be authentic. In this regard I preferred her husband who is much more down to earth. Nevertheless, this is for me the strongest aspect of the novel: the characters are complex, shaped by their experiences and sensitive to others.
All in all, even though there is some kind of mystery about Gabriela’s father’s disappearance and also some suspense and even a kind of showdown, it is not this aspect that made the novel noteworthy, but Heller’s passion for detail in creating his characters.