by Ken Baird
Wow! Wow! Wow!
There is a real leap of faith when a reader invests their time in an unknown author. Sometimes that investment pays off hugely. It did for me when I discovered Ken Baird and his first novel “Yukon Audit.”
I did read the About the Author section of the book prior to beginning. I do this with new indie authors primarily because, in a perfect world, I would be a writer and I’m always in awe of those brave enough to pursue their dream. I’m glad I learned of Baird’s background prior to starting “Yukon Audit” because it lent a real authenticity to the story. He ran a gold mine and is a pilot. How cool is that? I may or may not have watched hundreds of hours of Discovery and History Channel programming about man vs nature in the pursuit of riches, but this is the first book I’ve read from anyone remotely connected to that lifestyle.
The book is a mystery/thriller/adventure novel set in the Yukon featuring C.E. Brody an independent guy who lives in a cabin by a lake with his dogs. He has a minimalist lifestyle, runs a mechanic shop and also uses his private plane to make a living. As a recent transplant to an isolated West Virginia mountain, I related to this character and culture. The pace is slower, people know each others business, and everyone works multiple jobs to get by…but getting by is enough.
Life would have continued on uneventfully for Brody, except an extremely attractive female showed up at his shop in need of car repairs. Her beauty, a car far older and worn than matched her appearance, a warning to avoid her from the local police are all too intriguing for Brody who becomes embroiled in a mystery which spans the next 500 pages of writing. Yes, you read that correctly – 500 pages. I admit that knowing not all writers are created equally, I dreaded facing what could be 500 pages of blah blah blah. What a relief I felt to discover Baird has a unique quality to tell a story with enough details that the reader becomes enthralled but not so bogged down that it’s burdensome.
I loved reading about Brody’s life. Frequently I found myself smiling or laughing as this character shared his perspective. Baird fleshed out a guy who anyone would gladly sit and have a beer with and feel better because of it. He isn’t the typical tough guy hero; he is just a decent man caught up in a series of unfortunate events which leads to violence. Brody has brains, enough brawn and decency. The other thing I appreciated about the characters was the relationship between Brody and the female protagonist, Sarah. Yes, she was drop dead gorgeous which is pretty typical with female leads – after all, appearance is primary for women (read that with snark), but Baird changed up roles. There is less about her looks and the physical chemistry and more about her strength and personality.
I absolutely loved this book and felt sad when it was over. Even at 500 pages, I wanted more. I know I can’t legally demand Baird continue Brody’s story with a sequel, but I demand Baird continue and give us book 2. Soon.