★★★★★ In Russell Heath’s electric new mystery-thriller, Rinn’s Crossing, a rugged mountain man named Rinn van Ness commits a minor felony in the name of saving his beloved Alaskan spruce trees. Little does he know that this one night of environmental activism will send his quiet world spiraling out of control on an inevitable collision course with dirty politics, lobbying, Native American rights, and the soul of Alaska herself. To make matter’s worse, Rinn’s lost love, Kit Olinksy, is convicted of not only Rinn’s own crime, but of the murder of Jacob Haecox as well. As a lobbyist, Kit has long fought to protect the land and wildlife of Alaska—murder doesn’t seem like her style at all. In order to clear Kit’s name, Rinn will have to navigate around Dan Wakefield, an Alaskan Native and CEO of the company Rinn himself sabotaged—who also happens to be sleeping with Kit. All the pieces are masterfully set in motion,, and once Rinn comes down from the mountains, secrets and lies will be quickly exposed.
It’s tough not to devour this book in one sitting. Heath’s plotting is taut and propulsive, and the pages seem to fly through your hands. The characters are all fully fleshed, and though he deals with some complicated real-world issues, it’s done with a carefully researched hand. As incredible as the plot is, the real star here is Alaska. It’s clear Heath loves the environment and people of the northern state, and all of the descriptions are layered and complex. Rinn’s Crossing is not a caricature—Heath takes time to really introduce the reader to the land he so obviously adores. It’s impossible to emerge from Rinn’s Crossing without a healthy respect for both the author’s great talent and the history and landscape of Alaska.