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This smart thriller (11 hours and 20 minutes) was published in March of 2017 by Random House Audio. The audiobook takes you to Wyoming and Montana. Melissa listened to Celine and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.
Our heroine Celine defies every expectation of the private eye, and we dare you to not be completely infatuated by her. Elegant, aristocratic, and a woman of a certain age, she’s also an outsider artist, wildly empathetic, skilled in surprising ways, and ridiculously good at her job of reuniting damaged families.
But she’s not the only remarkable woman in this story.
There’s also Gabriela, a young woman with a Past and Baggage, who needs Celine’s help. Decades ago — after a gut-wrenching family tragedy — her father went missing under suspicious circumstances on the Wyoming-Montana border. To move on with her life, Gabriela needs answers, and she pleads with Celine to take on the cold case. Soon the PI is on an epic (and dangerous) road trip west to unravel the mystery and bring her client peace.
This story was inspired by the author’s own mother, and his descriptions of the breathtaking and brutal scenery, as well as the characters’ internal landscapes, will transport you into their reality. But it’s not all atmosphere. This is a page-turner with taut suspense and action-packed set pieces that demonstrate Celine is a force as powerful as the mountain wind.
Celine is assisted in her investigation by the realistically quirky, off-the-grid characters that live at the fringes of society in America’s vast wilderness. It’s a non-judgmental look at people who choose to live a different kind of life, and it grapples with the often painful sacrifices that must be made for freedom and family. Love, redemption, loyalty, determination — they’re all at play in this sharply plotted and graceful novel.
The audiobook is narrated by Kimberly Farr. Her voice — warm, wry, wise, with a bell-like timbre — will transport you straight into the story. You’ll see Celine and Gabriela, the mountainous scenery, the car chases, and the gunfights played out through your ears and into your mind’s eye.
The leaves stuck to the windshield, and they drove with the windows open and the smell of sage and grass pouring in with the cold. They saw a grizzly bear running flat out across a meadow. He was huge and humped and he more flowed than ran, and the long sun rippled over his sleek fur like water and changed his colors. He stopped at the edge of the spruce and began digging…. They drove over a wooded rise and when they came out of the spruce they could see a hundred bison grazing in grass in a bow of the river and white trumpeter swans on the slate-blue water. — Peter Heller
Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.
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