No Place for Wolverines (Jenny Willson Mystery)- Dave Butler
Release Date: October 13, 2018
Synopsis: When Park Warden Jenny Willson initiates a covert inquiry into a proposed ski hill in Yoho National Park, she’s quickly drawn into a web of political, environmental, and criminal intrigue that threatens to tear apart a small B.C. town. Suddenly, neighbour is pitted against neighbour, friend against friend, and family against family.
After a wolverine researcher dies in a mysterious fire, Willson forms an uneasy alliance with an RCMP corporal and an investigative journalist to expose the truth behind the project. But all is not what it seems. In a showdown involving the ski hill proponent, her own agency, and mysterious political puppeteers, Willson must decide if she’s willing to risk her career — and perhaps the lives of herself and those close to her — to reveal what lurks in the shadows.
When a new ski resort is proposed in Canada's Yoho National Park, Park Warden Jenny Willson is asked to quietly investigate its' legitimacy. Going back to her home town of Golden, Jenny is drawn into a web of politics, environmental activism, and intrigue. The death of a wolverine researcher pushes Willson into an investigation with the RCMP, and violence escalates as the proposal threatens to split quiet Golden in half. Willson must help end the violence before Golden in destroyed and becomes no place for her family- and no place for wolverines.
No Place for Wolverines is definitely a book I read because of the cover. I love ferrets, weasels, wolverines, and fervently believe that members of the mustelidae family are terribly underrepresented in fiction and literature. So when a book comes out where they are in the title and on an adorable cover? You bet I'm reading it. Based on the book's description I knew from that my darling wolverines were not destined to play a major role in the plot, but I figured there would be at least one devoted wolverine researcher involved and we'd get to read a few impassioned speeches about how awesome they are and how important they are.
There is one devoted wolverine researcher- Albin Stoeffel- who gets a few pages of attention and comes across as either highly devoted to his cause or completely nuts, depending on your point of view. Sadly, he doesn't get much time to lecture us on the glory and importance of wolverines. The wolverines are a symbol of the wilderness being threatened, but get no more than a passing glance themselves. This was also pretty much how it seemed all the actual characters came across. Even the main character, Park Warden Jenny Willson, gets very little in the way of genuine character development or depth. Occasionally there are glimpses of a person, but she seems to be mostly a roughly sketched anti-government government employee. Stubborn, tenacious, and kick-ass are all words used to describe Jenny (making her rather a human wolverine) but stubborn is the only quality that really comes through most of the book. It's possible she got more character development in the first book of the series (Full Curl) but I haven't read that one to know.
On the one hand, I enjoyed the setting for this book and the descriptions of the wilderness of Yoho. The mysterious death of researcher Sue Webb and the violence connected to the ski resort were a good story, and the 'bad guys' are sufficiently slimy and threatening that you believe completely they will do whatever it takes to wring the most money possible out of the situation. While some people will argue that the town's division over the issue is overdramatized, having lived in a small town divided over a windmill project I can say for certain that that part was spot on. On the other hand, until about 3/4 of my way through the book it felt like reading it was more of a slog and a chore than fun escapism. Characters were flat, dialog was stilted and unnatural, and there was a lot unnecessary repetition. Butler had a tendency to skip around, making jagged transitions that didn't really work and left the reader feeling like they had missed something. I felt no connection or investment in Willson (as she's referred to through the book, creating further separation from the character in my mind) until the last few chapters, which were heartbreakingly depressing and left me looking at the last page asking "that's it? That's how you leave it?" That reaction suggests to me that Butler has definite potential in the future, but No Place for Wolverines did not live up to that potential, and I probably wouldn't want to give the author another chance by reading another book.
Unusually, it is only the wolverines who win by the end of this book. It is not the characters, and it is definitely not the reader. My recommendation is to enjoy the cover, but you'll enjoy it more by not reading the book.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review