Point of Law by Clinton McKinzie
Clinton McKinzie’s Antonio Burns is a Special Agent with the Narcotics Division of a Wyoming Police department. That doesn’t matter in Point Of Law, however, because not only is he on his second suspension in three years, but he’s on a climbing vacation with his father in Colorado. His father is a Colonel in the Air Force, also special forces: Pararescue. The Burns men have been climbing together since the sons were children which makes this excursion - in the canyons of their father’s heyday - the perfect place at which to stage an intervention. Antonio’s older brother, Roberto, is a drug addict on probation. He is not clean and he is not in any way even remotely careful: he is often seen in Climbing Magazines soloing walls that other climbers consider suicidal.
McKinzie proceeds to spin out a complicated plot - many layers that come together to form a very compelling tale. Environmentalists, Developers, vaguely corrupted lawmen (of all levels), and Hired Thugs tangle over the fate of Wild Fire Valley - located in Tomichi County, Colorado and the site of the Colonel’s climbing glory days. Though at times menacing, and sometimes violent, behavior on all sides is above board until a young environmentalist is discovered - by Anton - having been beaten to death. This poor soul, named Cal, has been spouting off about a previously undiscovered cave that will save the valley from the developers. The Sheriff takes the easiest route through the situation and arrests Roberto based purely on his record and not on any of the facts. To make matters worse, the Colonel is called back to duty and the judge sets bail at the exorbitant rate of half a million dollars and Sunny, the only witness to the murder, has disappeared.
So it is up to Anton and Kim - the leader of the environmentalist group and a good friend of Sunny - to find the girl, spring the wrongfully jailed brother, and reveal the cave to the Forest Service before the bad guys kills all of them and blow up said cave. They chase Sunny down to Lake Powell, Arizona, where she has stolen her stepfather’s boat, hidden on the lake, and ultimately kidnapped. They race back up to Wild Fire Canyon to a (I know, it’s cliched, but true) thrilling climax.
Because McKinzie is a climber himself, the book is sprinkled with jargon, tips, and general information. Anton’s character - true to the nature of the climber - has a beastly dog who hovers at the base of routes. He sees every wall as an opportunity to climb up, and has very little fear - a benefit of the confidence the climbing instills. Maybe it’s because I climb already, but the book makes me want to get a dog and go loll about on the rocks for a day or two...excluding the part about the murder and kidnapping, of course.
I find myself in the very nice spot of having found a series long after the author began it so that I can read every book without the immediate fear of running out of them. I look forward to it.