Heart of the Renegade

Melting the Ice

by Loreth Anne White
(SRS #1537, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-27607-3
Sgt. Gabe Caruso of the Rocky Mountain Police asked to be assigned to one of the most remote villages in the Yukon Territory. He had done so in order to continue his grieving, presumably away from friends and family. The serial killer, who had claimed the life of his fellow Mountie and fiancée was in jail but that was no consolation. Of course Gabe blamed himself for her loss of life, as he had been the one in charge.

The story opens as that serial killer, also known as “The Bushman” is escaping. Although injured, he makes his way to freedom utilizing the skills he had acquired in the Special Forces. The Bushman is a very worthy opponent, and sets his sights upon Gabe, locates his reassignment post and begins to work his way toward his prey.

Gabe has arrived in Black Arrow Falls with a population of 389. The first inhabitant he meets is Silver Karvonen, the best of the local trackers and hunters. Beautiful and enigmatic, Silver learned her trade under the tutelage of her mentor and friend, Old Crow, enabling her to utilize the skills of her “wolf cross” dogs in a rare partnership.

She discovers the remains of Old Crow, with the strips of bloody flesh of some animal hanging close by to attract carnivorous predators. The principal difference in this scene and the one containing the remains of her husband years ago is the presence of tracks made by a Mounties’ boot.

Silver is aware that the killer knows far too much about her, and Gabe becomes aware that he regrettably has drawn The Bushman to this small village. Gabe believes that Silver would be considered a worthy prey by the predator. In this choice the killer knows he has placed both his worthy opponents together and in the same place, making his job easier.

Thus, brought together by both accident and design they join forces to search for the killer. While they are investigating Old Crow’s death the killer uses his time wisely by disabling satellite connections for the small village, thus greatly reducing the chance of outside help.

White does a terrific job of creating vivid and memorable characters, and a better job of placing them in a unique and richly described setting. Not only is this particular setting rarely used by writers, but also the attention given to the natural habitat of animal, both as hunter and prey takes this romance novel out of the ordinary.

Gabe and Silver both have emotional baggage, but in a very realistic manner the author uses their angst to fashion them as individuals. Manhunter is a refreshing departure from the ever-growing norm, which makes a memorable and interesting read.

--Thea Davis

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