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Claire Kells Books In Order

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Publication Order of National Parks Mystery Books

Vanishing Edge (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon
An Unforgiving Place (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon
Forgotten Trail (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Girl Underwater (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon

Claire Kells, a passionate open-water swimmer, physician, and American mystery author, harbors a love for the outdoors despite being terrified of solitary night walks in the woods. Her books are populated with flawed yet likable characters, laden with twists and turns, and underpinned by romantic tension. Kells resides in Virginia.

Her inaugural book in the National Parks Mystery series, “Vanishing Edge”, situates crime and suspense in Sequoia National Park, resulting in a beautifully written crime thriller. Readers meet Felicity Harland, an ex-FBI agent who resigned from the agency after a significant personal injury ended her career. Currently, she serves as a special agent for the Investigative Services Bureau, a division of the National Park Service.

Felicity gets a call indicating that her skills are required at Sequoia National Park. Reports reveal two campers have inexplicably vanished, and the upscale camping resort maintaining the campsite refuses to disclose their client. Evidence collected by the new park ranger, Ferdinand, suggests that the campsite was hastily deserted with no signs of struggle. What happened to the campers? Are they lost, injured, or has something more sinister occurred?

“Vanishing Edge” presents a character-centric narrative, replete with drama and intrigue. Harland and Ferdinand form a competent investigative duo. Harland is determined to demonstrate to herself and her superiors that her career-altering injury doesn’t hinder her work. She eagerly undertakes long climbs and hikes to probe accidents and crimes in national parks.

Claire Kells effectively portrays Harland’s personal struggles, making them feel real to readers. Harland’s pet dog, Ollie, adds another layer to the story. Ferdinand, an ex-Navy SEAL, feels under-challenged in his role as a junior ranger and is thrilled when Harland asks for his assistance in the investigation. Known for his prowess in locating missing persons, will Ferdinand and Harland successfully uncover the truth about the missing campers?

Overall, “Vanishing Edge” is a thoughtfully composed and engaging read. Kells encourages readers to untangle the mystery alongside Harland and Ferdinand. This book comes highly recommended for lovers of mystery and investigative tales set in the great outdoors, teeming with compelling characters.

As previously mentioned, Claire Kells’ enthusiasm for open-water swimming isn’t surprising, and her novel “Girl Underwater” echoes this theme. Considering current statistics on air travel, you’ll find that it’s substantially safer than car travel. It’s remarkable that the number of individuals perishing in airplane crashes diminishes yearly, while the number of survivors increases, despite the high casualty rates when crashes do occur.

The story introduces Avery, a 19-year-old sophomore and an avid swimmer. Part of her college’s acclaimed swim team, she is surrounded by a supportive boyfriend, a close-knit family, and a fulfilling life. However, everything changes when her plane crashes into the Rocky Mountains while heading home for Thanksgiving break, leaving her among just five survivors, including her teammate Collin and three young boys.

Over the next five days, the survivors grapple with the harsh, snowy mountains before being rescued. The real struggle, however, begins after their rescue as Avery endures intense psychological trauma and wrestles with the aftermath of the experience. The narrative alternates between Avery’s pre-crash college life and her attempts to survive post-crash, offering insights into her predicament.

The plane crash and its immediate aftermath are vividly depicted, from the impending disaster and impact to the survivors’ escape attempts. The trials they endure post-rescue are recounted in such graphic and emotive detail that it unfolds like a chilling cinematic experience.

After the crash, Avery and Collin rescue three small boys from the wreckage, and Collin carries an unconscious pregnant woman on his shoulder. They watch helplessly as the plane sinks into an icy lake, with luggage floating on the surface, unattainable due to the freezing water and their injuries.

Post-rescue, Avery confronts both physical and emotional demons. Her attempts to maintain “normalcy” and refusal to seek help for her post-traumatic stress eventually implode. Nonetheless, she is a resilient and intelligent young woman, frequently battling self-doubt and fearing failure. She meets others’ expectations, often at the cost of her dreams.

Collin is a quintessential hero, providing Avery the space and time needed to reconcile with their Rocky Mountain ordeal. He’s patient, decent, and his love for her is evident despite her fluctuating responses to him. Prior to the accident, he was chosen for the Olympic swim team, but his severe injuries threaten to terminate his swimming career.

The novel also delves into numerous other relationships, including Avery’s complex family ties, her budding bond with the boys they rescued, her relationship with her college boyfriend Lee, and her uneasy connection with Collin. Claire Kells vividly explores how these relationships evolve as Avery transforms. While the survival aspect of the story is compelling, it’s just a part of the plot. The narrative probes deeper into Avery’s evolution, the impact on the lives around her, and the significant events following the plane crash.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Claire Kells

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