cover image The Last Woman in the Forest

The Last Woman in the Forest

Diane Les Becquets. Berkley, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-0-399-58704-7

Marian Engström, the 26-year-old heroine of this elegantly written thriller from Les Becquets (Breaking Wild), joins a conservation study group in northeastern Alberta, where she begins her instruction as a dog handler. Her mentor is charismatic Tate Mathias, who charms her with stories from his adventurous life. Soon Marian is head-over-heels in love. While she’s away on another assignment, Tate is killed, horribly mauled by a bear. She subsequently meets Tate’s sister and discovers that he wasn’t always truthful about his exploits. One of his claims was that he had found the body of one of the victims of a serial killer. She contacts Nick Shepard, a psychologist and former forensic profiler who worked on the still-unsolved serial killer case, and asks him to confirm Tate’s claim. From that point, the story revs up, providing more than enough tension and suspense as Marian inches closer to the dangerous and disturbing truth. Eloquent, detailed descriptions of nature and of rescue dog training, survival techniques, and the peripatetic life of conservationists enrich the narrative. Agent: Michelle Brower, Folio Literary. (Mar.)