Officer Ren Hopper is an enforcement ranger with the Yellowstone National Park Service. His many duties vary greatly as he deals with often clueless tourists, a park full of wildlife, and local residents. Off duty, he enjoys spending time with Hilly, the wolf biologist, who is passionate about her work. There is trouble brewing between Hilly and a local hunter/trapper, Les Ingraham, who may be poaching too. And then there is someone who is specifically leaving notes that are targeting and threatening Ren.
Heller does a magnificent, poetic job capturing the beauty and danger found in the natural environment of Yellowstone, as well as the conflicts between people in The Last Ranger. It is an even paced novel that is part mystery novel with several incidents to investigate and part ode to the natural world. Heller has seamlessly written into the plot many facts and information about wolves, bears, and other animals in the wilderness.
At the same time Heller also populates The Last Ranger with a cast of realistic characters with differences and conflicting emotions. Ren is a wonderful, complex, fully realized character. He is thoughtful, contemplative, and purposeful while dealing with the conflicts and questions he encounters. His emotional wounds from his past are present, but help make him the man he is.
The Last Ranger would be a wonderful choice for a book club. There are so many details and questions that could be discussed. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Knopf via NetGalley.