The Cat Dancers and Spider Mountain
by P.T. Deutermann
2005. 352pages (Hardcover)
2006. 320pages (Hardcover)
The Cat Dancers was one of the many library books I stuffed into my travel bags when I went on vacation this August. I read Spider Mountain in September. Just as I liked the fact that the P.J. Tracy thrillers were set in the off-beat location of Minnesota, I loved that Deutermann’s books were set in North Carolina. Deutermann’s books are darker than the other pair of thrillers though. Also, content warning, for those who wish to know: there is a lot of profanity and some violence in The Cat Dancers and Spider Mountain.
These two books are #1 and #2 of the Deutermann’s Cam Richter series, and the first I’d read of Deutermann at all. In The Cat Dancers, Lieutenant Cam Richter is part of an investigation into a heinous crime: two guys sticking up a gas station end up killing a bunch of bystanders when the robbery goes wrong. The perpetrators are caught but then are let go on a technicality during the trial. When one of the perpetrators is killed and a video of his execution is sent to Richter’s email, vigilante justice seems to be afoot. As events spiral out of control, Richter himself is implicated and things get dicey from there.
One of the reasons I consider this thriller to be a success is because, even though I knew the book was first in a series, I was furiously turning pages wondering how Richter was going to get out alive and clear. Deutermann knows how to make a situation look desperate.
For dog-lovers out there: Cam Richter’s German Shepherds, Frick and Frack, are almost constant companions and truly the only ones that Richter can trust at certain times. I’ve never even owned a dog and I think they’re made of awesome.
Spider Mountain has Richter going almost solo to investigate some strange and disturbing occurrences in western North Carolina. It starts with the brutal assault of a young park ranger, and gets much creepier from there.
There are many suspenseful scenes in both novels that take place in the wilderness and this reminds me of Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon series, which I love. There’s this extra edge of suspense when the main characters are out of civilization’s reach – nature can both be a help and a hindrance to the protagonist.
These are gritty novels where the danger seems almost omnipresent. I liked them a lot.
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