Stephen Legault is a talented Canadian author, with three series on the go. He visited the Daughters a year ago to talk about his mysteries featuring disabled Canadian Mounted Policeman Durant Wallace. The End of the Line showed that Stephen wrote cold and snow well enough that more than one reader commented on needing to put on warmer clothes as they read the book.
In his new Red Rock Canyon mystery series, he heads the other way, into the Utah desert. And he proves he can handle heat and desert scenery as well as he did southern Alberta in the grip of a killer cold winter. The wilderness descriptions are beautifully detailed, which isn’t surprising, giving Stephen’s non-writing passions as a full-time conservation activist, an outdoorsman, and a photographer. He’s an author who’s taken the maxim to “write what you know” to heart.
The first book in the series is called The Slickrock Paradox with good reason. Slickrock is sandstone, hollowed out and polished smooth by intermittent floods. One-way crevices form. Some are easy to descend, but impossible to climb out of, or the going-down may kill you before you get a chance to discover if coming up would be easier.
Descending into one-way crevices describes Silas Pearson’s life. Three-and-a-half years ago his third wife, Penelope, disappeared. All Silas knows is that she was working on a secret conservation project. Many people searched for her when she first disappeared and all of them came to one of two conclusions. Either her body was in the Utah desert and would never be found, or Penelope chose to escape her troubled marriage by running off with another man.
Silas refused to believe either possibility. He gave up his tenured university professorship and began a dogged search for her. In his daily travels up and down desert canyons, he’s covered over four thousand miles. A trek equivalent to having walked one-and-a-half times across the United States or climbed Mount Everest ten time.
At night he stands before a room sized topographical map and marks off the territory he’s searched that day. Marking a map is better than the nightmares that haunt him when he tries to sleep. He knows that rest will come to him only after he either finds Penelope alive and get answers, or is able to give her body a proper burial.
If you've got one of those hard-to-buy-a-book-for guys on your holiday list, check out the Red Rock series. It's got the west, it's got beautiful scenery, and it's got a mystery as slick as the rock that Silas both respects and fears.