by She Treads Softly: Extinction by Douglas Preston combines a compelling murder mystery and cutting-edge science in a Michael Crichton-esque plot. This excellent mind-blowing thriller is very highly recommended. One of the best!

The exclusive Erebus Resort is located in a hundred-thousand acre valley of in the mountains of Colorado. Through genetic manipulation Erebus specializes in the “de-extinction” of Pleistocene megafauna, like woolly mammoths, giant ground sloths, Irish Elk, giant armadillos, and the indricothere. These prehistoric animals have had their genes for aggression removed for the safety of the visitors at the resort. For their honeymoon Mark and Olivia Gunnerson go backpacking at Erebus to see the prehistoric animals there and then disappear in the night.

County Sheriff James Colcord notes the obvious attack on the couple left behind a copious amount of blood but no bodies, so Colorado Bureau of Investigation Agent Frances (Frankie) Cash is called in to track down the perpetrators. Since Mark is the son of a wealthy billionaire, the first assumption is a gang of eco-terrorists are trying to send a message about the resort.

This is a gripping murder mystery full of extinct creatures, perpetual tension, breathtaking twists, and shocking developments that gallops at a heart-stopping pace. Once you start reading the ingenious narrative you will not want to stop until you reach the unpredictable, stunning final denouement. Once the plot took off, I was following in what ever direction Preston led me. I kept trying to predict what was going to happen and was surprised at every turn.

What made Extinction even better (if that were possible) are the variety of fully realized characters and personalities that populate the novel. Frankie and Colcord are great characters and the interaction between the two is appealing even when they seemingly clash. All the supporting characters are presented as unique individuals and you will easily distinguish between them while reading as fast as possible to see what in the world is going to happen next.

Additionally, much like Crichton, Preston has done his research and knows the science behind the direction his plot takes. At the end of the novel Preston shares the real science and the direction it is taking right now. Great characters, action-packed plot, and expert plotting and pacing make this one of the best novels of the year. Thanks to Forge Books for providing me with an advance reader’s copy via NetGalley. My review is voluntary and expresses my honest opinion.