South of Eden
Billed as an “ecological thriller”, this novel lives up (or perhaps down!) to its description. Back in 1905, conservation of the grasslands was a new and mostly outrageous concept to Colorado cattlemen, and the arrival of a replacement ranger from the U.S. Forest Service starts the novel off in fine fashion. (The man he is replacing has disappeared without a trace.)
Complicating matters is the crazed foreman of the rancher most dead set in opposition to Ellis Burke. Sid Preston is a man who is obsessed with the slicing and dicing of the prostitutes he lures to his secret killing field hidden high up in the mountains.
We soon discover that the hero has his own flaws and so does the girl he falls in love with, the daughter of the very same rancher in the paragraph above — but this is nothing to compare with the ugly, tasteless scenes of the serial killer at work, in mind-numbing detail.
There’s a story lying deep inside this book, crying to be heard. Why the author told this one instead, I couldn’t begin to tell you.