“Canyon Sacrifice,” the first in a new series of National Park Mysteries written by Scott Graham, follows Chuck Bender, an independent archaeology contractor working in the Southwest. He is honeymooning with his new wife and two young stepdaughters in the Grand Canyon, where he often comes to work.
The vacation comes to a grinding halt when 7-year-old Carmelita, one of Chuck’s new stepdaughters, is kidnapped. Immediately, maybe too quickly, fingers are pointed toward the ex-husband of Chuck’s bride, Janelle, as her former husband is a known drug dealer with a history of violence.
Chuck is then sent out to locate the ransom, some priceless Anasazi artifacts known only to Chuck. When the scheduled meeting with the kidnapper goes awry, Chuck is sent on a race to save and protect his new daughter as well as his own life.
Graham keeps readers and Chuck guessing who the kidnapper and ransomer is until the last few pages. Unexpected twists and turns in the plot as well as unique and interesting facts about the Anasazi and archaeology enrich the story.
“Canyon Sacrifice” has some references to violence but does not go into graphic detail and only speaks about it generally.
The book is well thought out and will keep readers interested as they navigate the mystery and try to unearth clues. The language is free of any swearing, and there aren’t any sexual themes.
The geography and history of the Grand Canyon area provide a gleaming backdrop for the plot that enriches the tone and overall theme of Chuck trying to save his new daughter’s life while risking his own.
(Hilarye Fuller lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she stays at home with her three young daughters and pens the travel blog Dotting the Map, which can be found online at dottingthemap.com.)