4 out of 4 stars
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Mack’s career of riding bulls with the rodeo has ended after a severe injury during his last ride. After being released from the hospital, he headed back to his father’s organic farm in Minnesota to heal and figure out his future. Upon reaching the farm, he observed a sign for an upcoming auction and noticed the dying crops, which looked like herbicide damage. His father, Ben, informed him that the bank had been purchasing surrounding properties and had tried to buy his farm. He had refused to sell. Now, he can’t make his payments on his mortgage because of two years of bad crops, forcing him to have to auction off the farm.
Mack discovers there are plans being made to dam up part of the Clayborne National Wildlife Refuge that borders their farm, allowing for fishing and boating; however, this will cause a severe loss of habitat for the creatures that live there. Having spent much of his childhood in the refuge, Mack is determined to stop them. He goes by to talk with Ray, the manager of the wildlife refuge, but is told he committed suicide. Knowing Ray, Mack finds this suspicious. Dale, the deputy who arrived at Ray’s staged suicide scene first, also felt like something wasn’t right. With Dale's help, Mack pursues information that will help him halt the project and save Ben’s farm. For some unknown reason, several women are murdered, and it becomes obvious someone is trying to kill Mack as well, reminding him that the stakes here are high.
Why a Refuge by Michael George is an action-packed, thrilling crime drama, with some romance woven in. It captures the reader’s attention in the prologue (when Ray’s murder occurs). It is nicely paced, intermixing the more exciting scenes with a chance to catch your breath. The narrative, written from the third-person point of view, is descriptive and easy to understand. Although not all the questions are clearly explained by the end of the book, the reader is provided enough information that they can decide the outcome.
One thing I enjoyed about this book is the author’s love for the outdoors and environmental conservation. I appreciate his views about how we need to take better care of our biosphere for the future of our planet. As Mack stated, “The thing is, if we continue to be hell bent on the destruction of planet earth, which is the only home we have, we’re going to lose a lot more than our modern way of life. Our species is going to die.” He points out that the Republicans have been the ones who have rolled back protections for our planet over the years, especially lately. While probably true, Republican readers might find this objectionable and likely won’t enjoy the book as much as others.
My favorite aspect of the book is the excellent character development. Mack is a broken-down cowboy. He doesn’t possess much faith in religion, but loves being out in nature; it feels spiritual to him. He grieves for his wife, who was recently killed in a car accident. You can’t help but pull for him. Ben and Mack’s uncle (Roy) are also characters I enjoyed. They are stubborn, hard-working, and feisty; they simply want to be left alone to live their lives their way but are willing to fight when forced to.
I only found a few minor errors in the novel. As there was nothing about this captivating and well-written story I didn’t enjoy, Why a Refuge achieves a rating of four out of four stars. It is enthusiastically recommended to readers who appreciate thrilling crime dramas. Violence, profanities, and sex (including rape) are encountered in the novel. Subsequently, it is inappropriate for children or sensitive readers.
Why A Refuge
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