A teenage girl wakes up alone in a bed and breakfast in Santa Fe with no memory of who she is or how she got there. The innkeeper explains that the man who brought her there said he was her father. But the one thing she knows for sure is that he is not--and that she must flee before he returns. Taking his jacket, money, and gun, she hikes into the surrounding mountains; in an unlikely scenario that only a writer as talented as Grimes can make plausible, she survives the harsh winter and even flourishes, seeking solace in the company of coyotes she frees from their illegal traps. When she reemerges from the wilderness a few months later, seeking to unravel the mystery of who she is, she walks into the life of 14-year-old Mary Dark Hope, a lonely orphan who becomes her ally and companion. Together they track the stranger who abducted her, who holds the key to the secret of her identity--the man she knows only as "Daddy."
The thrilling odyssey that takes the two girls into the murky world of illegal dogfights, hunting, and wild-animal profiteers culminates in a dramatic confrontation, but it is the brilliantly realized characters rather than the plot that capture the reader's imagination and keep the pages turning. Another tour de force for Grimes, and a cause for celebration for her many fans. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
Engaging adolescent Mary Dark Hope, who appeared in Rainbow's End, returns in this uneven thriller/animal-rights polemic. After Mary befriends Andi, a teenage amnesiac who releases trapped animals in New Mexico's Sandia Mountains, the two girls head after a mysterious man who Andi thinks may have kidnapped her and knows her identity. Conveniently, the orphaned Mary has a bank account, a car, her dead sister's driver's license and gullible caregivers. The girls easily encounter garrulous informants along the way, finding a friend and protector in Reuel, a salt-of-the-earth dropout who knows everyone in Salmon, Idaho, where they've tracked their quarry. Once Andi identifies Harry Wine, a river expedition outfitter, as her abductor, the book shifts into a series of predictable episodes that show unthinking people gruesomely mistreating animals and that reveal the arrogant Wine's vile nature. Mary and Andi rescue an abused dog, go white-water rafting, spy on a "canned hunt" for endangered animals. In a violent scene near the book's end, Andi confronts Wine, then disappears. Although Grimes writes movingly of the plight of maltreated animals and gracefully evokes the beauty of the American West, many scenes are too long and aimless. Most of the characters are stereotypes, their individual motivations hard to discern. Andi's disappearance is especially puzzlingAlike the Lone Ranger, she stirs up the populace and vanishes, leaving the cleanup to others. This is not a Richard Jury book, and fans will miss him. Rights, Peter Lampack Agency.
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