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Bear Bait by Pamela Beason
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Bear Bait (edition 2012)

by Pamela Beason

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621,268,033 (4.5)None
Member:cathyskye
Title:Bear Bait
Authors:Pamela Beason
Info:Berkley (2012), Edition: Original, Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:Mystery

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Bear Bait by Pamela Beason

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First Line: The leaves rustled on the bushes ahead.

Summer ("Sam") Westin is working on a twelve-week project for the National Park Service in Olympic National Park. One night when filling in as a firewatcher, she hears an explosion and sees fire light the sky over at Marmot Lake. When the fire is put out, the body of a young woman who was working on the park's trail crew is discovered, and she's barely alive.

Sam senses that something's going on, and she begins to ask questions. With each question she asks, three new ones pop up. Does the explosion have anything to do with an old gold mine? Are illegal bear hunters poaching on what is now National Park land? And what is the significance of all the weird numbers she's finding carved on trees?

No matter how fast Nevada Barr writes her Anna Pigeon books, she can't do it fast enough, so I am thrilled that I've found Pamela Beason's Summer Westin series. Since "Sam" is a wildlife biologist, blogger, and photographer and not a law enforcement ranger, readers are able to see beautiful remote locations and learn about the wildlife that inhabits it from an entirely new perspective. Sam is smart, strong and dedicated, and although I was happy to see that she didn't carry a gun in the first book in this series (Endangered), I may have to change my mind. More than once in Bear Bait Sam is reckless with her life-- camping alone in areas where she's seen illegal-- and very unfriendly-- hunters. The handsome FBI agent she's falling in love with isn't around often enough to keep hauling her bacon out of the fire. I would really like to see this element of her character toned down a bit. If she's so intelligent, she should be smart enough not to endanger her own life stupidly.

Secondary characters assume more importance in this book, I'm happy to say. Sam's clergyman father has always been disappointed in his daughter, believing that she's not living up to her true potential. He redeems himself-- and rises from the ranks of a stock character-- in a very touching way. Same, too, with Joe, a ranger in the park, his wife Laura and their thirteen-year-old daughter Lili. Beason shows us that raising a child in a remote area can be every bit as treacherous as raising one in the city. This subplot with Lili isn't tied off neatly at book's end, which I liked. There's enough ambiguity left for the reader to wonder what path Lili will choose to take.

The setting is superb, and I'm not just saying that because I've been there. Getting around this incredibly beautiful area called the Olympic Peninsula isn't easy. Roads are few, and you often find yourself relying on a ferry schedule to get to any kind of city. The reader gets a real sense of this, and also has a few chuckles along the way, since Forks is the nearest town of any size. Most of us have heard of other characters with which someone named Stephenie Meyer populated the town in a very different series of books.

Many important environmental issues are also touched upon: the issues surrounding public land that is turned over to the National Park Service, illegal bear hunting, and outdated mining laws involving abandoned mines to name three. All this, and a climactic scene that contains heart-pounding suspense and a speech that can bring a tear to the eye.

Anna Pigeon, if you were twenty years younger, I'd feel a bit disloyal saying this, but... Move over: there's a new woman in town, and her name is Summer Westin. ( )
  cathyskye | Feb 27, 2013 |
Summer is on a twelve-week project for the National Park Service at Olympic National Park, writing a management report to join new land into the park. She also helps out as a volunteer fire-watcher, which is how she hears an explosion and calls in a fire. After the fire is put out, they discover a park trail crew member, a young woman named Lisa Glass, who is badly burned and hanging onto life by a thread. They also discover a hole blown in the earth uncovering an old forgotten mine. There is local resistance to the adding of land to the park service because hunting is stopped. Signs pop up throughout the new park land defying the new park management rules, which hints at an underground resistance to the Park Service management and authority. Summer is confronted by an armed camo-wearing man outside any hunting season, which doesn't look good for a newly introduced bear into the park.

A parallel subplot is Summer's relationship with FBI Agent Chase Perez that is sporatic with their busy schedules, but is taken to the next level during this book. Agent Perez and his partner are in the area traking down robbers which may cross over into the activities Summer is facing. There is another subplot of Ranger Joe Choi asking Summer to help with his thirteen year old daughter Lili who may be getting in over her head with a teacher and a clique that share the same tattoos as the burned trail crew member.

Summer is a passionate wildlife biologist who is stubborn, has a hard time taking orders, is vulnerable, and yet tough. We find out more about Summer's precarious relationship with her authoritarian father, and her fear that her vagabond wilderness lifestyle is not agreeable to a long-term relationship.

Olympic National Park in the Pacific Northwest is a beautiful setting and you understand Summer's love of the park through the moonlit lake and lookout sunsets. The author makes the park an integral player in the story, not just a backdrop. The realities of Park Service management, wildlife conservation, and good old boy hunters thrown together are realistically portrayed.

The plot builds suspense by revealing more to the reader to keep you a few steps ahead of Summer and Agent Perez. But the full scope of the true motivations and ultimate goal is slowly revealed even with the reader being more "in-the-know." This builds the suspense to an edge of the seat climax where Summer is specifically in the cross-hairs. The wrap up leaves the reader anxious to read the next book in the series.

This is a great second book with a solid suspenseful plot and pacing that will likely keep the reader up all night turning pages. I feel it tops the debut book, which is a challenge for every author. It is hard to not compare this series to Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon series because of the theme of wildlife and parks, but the character of Summer Westin and the unique writing style carves a niche out all its own.

Rating: Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend.

Series: 2nd in Summer Westin Mysteries

Sensuality: sex scenes

Main Characters: Wildlife biologist Summer Westin

Setting: Modern day, Olympic National Park in the
Pacific Northwest

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Mysteries and My Musings Book Blog
http://www.mysterysuspence.blogspot.com ( )
  AFHeart | Dec 13, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425251659, Mass Market Paperback)

 Wildlife biologist and writer Summer “Sam” Westin loves the wilderness. But her latest attempt to protect nature may just get her burned…
 
Sam Westin is working on a twelve-week project for the National Park Service as a biologist and a volunteer firewatcher when, one night, she hears an explosion. Above a nearby lake, fire lights the sky. She calls it in and is the first on the scene to do battle. When the blaze is finally extinguished, a body is discovered in the embers. It’s a young woman who was working on the park’s trail crew for the summer—and she’s still clinging to life.
 
Sensing something sinister, Sam starts asking questions. Who started the fire? Was the young woman involved? Does this have something to do with an old gold mine? Is the recent sighting of an illegal bear hunter just coincidence? Sam wants the answers—but someone else wants her out of the way before she finds them...

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:17:31 -0400)

While working on a 12-week project for the National Park Service as a biologist and volunteer firewatcher, Summer "Sam" Westin finds things heating up when an explosion almost claims the life of another volunteer and is linked to an old gold mine and an illegal bear hunter.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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