Temporarily stepping away from the political thriller scene, Clancy Oath of Office, 2018) launches a terrific new series that’s tailor-made for fans of Marc Cameron (the Jericho Quinn franchise, Tom C.J. Box, Paul Doiron, and William Kent Krueger.
Bringing down a criminal is only half the problem. First, you have to find the target, and that is where U.S. Marshal Arliss Cutter thrives.
Born and raised in Florida, Cutter joined the military early, saw combat in the Middle East, and then joined the Marshals, where he now works with an elite Fugitive Task Force. Specifically, Cutter is the team’s best tracker, able to locate and bring in anyone regardless of setting–a claim that been tested time and time again. Now, after being sent to Alaska, Cutter and his partner, Deputy Lola Fontaine, are tasked with locating a fugitive somewhere on Prince of Wales Island.
Hayden Starne is a wanted man due to a plethora of kidnapping and sexual assault charges filed against him, and it’s up to Cutter and Lola to bring him in to answer for his sins. However, things take a turn when Arliss discovers that a number of disappearances have recently occurred across southeast Alaska, most notably a young Tlingit Indian girl named Millie Burkett. When Millie’s body turns up, Arliss, not believing in coincidences, likes Starne for the murder and ramps up the search efforts to find him.
Soon, more people go missing, including producer Carmen Delgado and another crew member who are in town to shoot a reality TV show following the wives of Alaskan fisherman (inspired by a Nat Geo documentary about life in the far north). Using what little footage exists from the previous few days of shooting and location hunting, Cutter and Lola sift through the film’s contents looking for clues, hoping to find anything that might lead to Delgado, and then to Millie’s killer. The unexpected emergence of a Mexican cartel boss changes everything, though, including the tone of the story, as his presence suggests there’s more going on than meets the eye.
Suddenly, Cutter finds himself in a dangerous role reversal where he’s now the one being hunted . . . and the people after him have every advantage.
Cameron, a natural storyteller, uses both his background in law enforcement and his time spent in Alaska to lend a gritty authenticity to the plot. While he’s used similar settings in past books, Cameron’s able to paint a new picture for readers through the eyes of Arliss, who is experiencing the “cold, dark, uninhabited forests often shrouded in fog” for the first time. Because Cutter and readers are acclimating to the area together, the setting becomes fascinating instead of overwhelming, as Cameron brings the Alaskan wilderness to life the same way that C.J. Box excels at making the Wyoming mountains a secondary character in his novels.
Additionally, Cutter, armed with a natural resting “mean mug” stare and years of tracking experience, is a unique and compelling character whom Cameron develops nicely as the story unfolds. Though he’s different than Jericho Quinn in a number of ways, the two are similar enough that fans of that series will surely enjoy following Arliss too, though the overall feel in this book is a tad darker, falling more in line with a traditional crime thriller as opposed to the political/action thrillers Quinn stars in.
Set in the vast Alaskan landscape where a small village attempts to keep its dark secrets hidden, Marc Cameron’s Open Carry reads like a cross between Lee Child’s The Killing Floor and C.J. Box’s Blood Trail . . . and is perfect for fans of both those series.
Author: Marc Cameron
Series: Arliss Cutter #1
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
Release Date: February 26, 2019
Book Spy Rating: 8.0/10
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.