As a starter novel, Sam Hillard has a fantastic beginning in the first of (what I hope) will be a series of books about Mike Brody, a tracker who uses somewhat unconventional methods to track missing people.
Mike Brody is somewhat apprehensively looking forward to a vacation on a dude ranch with his ex-wife and son Andy, setting aside (hopefully) their disagreements for the sake of their son. But nothing turns out as well as we wish it would on a vacation and Mike is no different than the rest of us. He is soon sought out by Lizbeth McCarthy, detective who knows Mike's tracking past and wants him to put his talents to work to find an asthmatic boy who somehow disappeared in the woods around their dude ranch.
During The Last Track, we see Mike with a variety of people, all so different in personalities and lifestyles that quite frankly are as mysterious as they are fascinating, it is hard for the reader to say "I know who dunnit" until the very last bit of the novel. For me, an avid suspense reader, this is what makes Sam's book a hit! There is nothing quite so annoying as figuring out the storyline during the first few chapters yet feeling you must finish the book to make sure.
To be sure, Sam doesn't fully explain all the characters but in the first book of a series that is to be expected as I am sure many of these self same characters will appear again and again, revealing bits about themselves as they evolve within Sam's book.
Sam, throughout the book, does not want to talk about his "gift" which to some may seem supernatural but to this reader, I see it as a gift given to help him to go to the aid of others when they need it more quickly than in perhaps the use of more traditional methods of tracking. I find this aspect of Mike to be appealing and endearing while I also see an inner strength in him through his gift. Though he seems like a regular guy, nothing about Mike's past is ordinary. Mike is also an ex-Special Forces operative, a smoke jumper, and at this time, an extreme adventure tour guide, so fear is not in his vocabulary. But because he is such a private person he keeps his gift of having an extra ordinary ability to "feel and see" the memories and emotional state of those he is pursuing.
But a teen from a nearby campsite is missing and Mike has been asked to help find Sean who has inexplicably disappeared without a trace. Here is where the reader must place himself/herself in the shoes of Sean's parents. Suddenly they discover their son is missing. The last time they saw him, he was safely near their campsite and was happy. Then mere hours later, without a trace he was gone. Add to that the fear that Sean's asthma requires him to take medication on a regular basis and you have a suspenseful book with a clock you can almost hear in the background. It is a matter of life or death for Sean when it comes to his asthma and running through the trees, does nothing but worsen this problem for Sean.
But Sean must run. He saw something transpire that he knows if he is caught by the wrong person or persons, he is as good as dead, so despite his weariness and declining health, Sean runs on from an unseen pursuer bent on finding him before Mike does. His love of running and stamina is of utmost importance as the reader finds out soon that Sean is capable of pushing himself far beyond what his limits should be.
As Mike works in the woods, behind the scenes is his ex-wife, who just happens to be a well-connected journalist who has endless contacts of which she uses to unravel the truth behind the murder. Undoggedly Jessica digs and digs until the ace reporter in her shines and she finds the information through a maze of leads and contacts, that searchers and Mike so desperately need.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any and all who love suspense novels with a bit of the unusual and a lot of tension combined. Author Sam Hilliard has done all that and more and in my honest opinion, has a firm start to what could be an exciting series starring Mike Brody ahead!