Drop everything and go read The Last Woman in the Forest by Diane Les Becquets.
Marian Engström works with rescue dogs on assignments in rugged locales to protect endangered wildlife. Then she falls in love with a colleague. After his death, she begins investigating his potential involvement in a string of unsolved murders, with the help of a retired forensic profiler.
Les Becquets has written a steady and competent novel. In addition to a swift and suspenseful plot, The Last Woman in the Forest offers an inside look at the world of conservation work. She paints a rich portrait of not only the people in this world, but the environment as well, replete with bear, caribou, and deer. The prose is lush and immersive. You can feel the cold, hear the crunch of footsteps in snow, the panting of the dogs. And you’ll be repulsed by the killer.
The author, in her acknowledgments, lists the extensive research she did for the novel, the experts she consulted, and most importantly, the catalyst for the story which was inspired by true events. What’s more, she imbues the plot with the aberrant psychology behind the murders, a topic I’m fascinated by and would love to see more of in fiction. Balancing the analytical aspects of a murder investigation, this is a novel tinged with sadness throughout, too, as we get a glimpse into the lives of the victims via the forensic profiler. You will care about these characters.
The Last Woman in the Forest is an upmarket thriller, and it’s also the smartest and most empathic mystery you’ll read this year.