Sunday, March 29, 2020

Roanoke Ridge

Roanoke Ridge by J.J. Dupuis
Dundurn Press; 3/7/20
review copy; 224 pages
A Creature X Mystery #1

Roanoke Ridge by J.J. Dupuis is a recommended mystery and the first book in the start of a new series.

Laura Reagan is the owner of a popular website called Science Is Awesome. Science IA strives to cover news worthy science topics with reality and facts, including cryptozoological investigations. This is in contrast to Laura's upbringing by her father who famously filmed a distant shot of a Sasquatch and child in the woods at Roanoke Ridge, Oregon. Now Laura's mentor, relative, and Bigfoot researcher Professor Berton Sorel has gone missing right as the annual Roanoke Valley Bigfoot Festival is about to start. Laura and her friend Saad Javed (who knows the difference between hard science and pseudoscience) are going to Roanoke Ridge to help search for Professor Sorel and maybe uncover the facts behind the recent Bigfoot sightings. When the search and rescue operation results in the body of a notorious Bigfoot hoaxer being found, and not the Professor's, the investigation expands.

The mystery is straightforward so don't expect heart-stopping action or a tension filled plot. The pace is slow and sometimes meandering, but the book is short so it is a quick read. While there are sentences and descriptions that shine, other parts of the narrative are pedestrian, which left me feeling that the writing in Roanoke Ridge is competent, but not exceptional. Be prepared for several long lectures included in the novel, some of which may be insulting to readers. Those lectures actually are a big impairment to the narrative. Chapters open with quotes over the years from various sources about Bigfoot or Sasquatch sightings, which add an interesting touch. The ending does feel rushed.

Admittedly any mystery involving Bigfoot would immediately draw my attention if simply for the novelty and kitsch factor. The idea of this being part of a series of creature mysteries is intriguing, but I'm uncertain if I will read another novel in the series. Laura is the only character who receives sufficient development but I'm not sure she is appealing enough to carry a whole series. The other characters are all caricatures representing different stereotypical types of people. Laura simply wasn't an interesting or appealing enough character to subject myself to wading through more thought lectures embedded in the plot, however reading another book in the series might be based more on what creature is sought. 
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Dundurn Press.

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