Owen and Dwayne are revisiting the site of their first hike in the Laguna mountains east of San Diego. The trip is as different from the first one as they could possibly have imagined, their relationship now on the rocks.
Dwayne has become focused on his work, the intimacy and affection they used to share a thing of the past. This is why Owen coerced Dwayne into the trip and the goal is to figure out if the men even have a future together. Owen has interviewed for a hotel job in Waikiki and knows that Dwayne would never follow him on this path. Quiet introspection shows what both men appear to have missed: that without open communication, all could be lost.
Deciding to take a shortcut, Dwayne leads Owen through the the forest, Owen complaining at every opportunity, while Dwayne begins to doubt his decision to stray off the designated path. Dwayne and Owen finally reach the path and continue on to the second campsite, but before they reach it, they are joined by a guest, a huge mountain lion who does not behave the way a mountain lion would normally behave. When the lion traps Dwayne and Owen on the roof of an abandoned cabin deep in the woods, they may not make it out alive.
It’s always tough to write a less than favorable review on a book, especially when it is a book written by a frequently read author. In fact, I have read and enjoyed all of Somerset’s works enormously, aside from this one.
To begin with, both Dwayne and Owen were not very likeable characters. Dwayne appears as the uncommunicative bully, while Owen played the secretive, passive-aggressive victim. It became clear soon enough that neither were as guilty or innocent as we first thought, but that just made them more irritating. At one point, I wondered if I was horrible to root for the mountain lion. Those two just bitch, complain, and play the blame game with each other.
The plot was designed to build suspense by following the day-by-day challenges the men faced while trapped by the mountain lion. Had those day-by-day challenges been more varied, the technique would have worked well, but they were on the roof of a cabin, which severely limited the buildup of tension. In this case, I would have been perfectly fine with learning more of the pre-hike relationship issues and skipping days of their ordeal. Another thing that caught my eye at times were the dreaded info dumps. I can appreciate why it was done, but referring back to the above point, going heavier on the before, to better establish the status of the relationship, would have been more appealing.
While I can’t recommend Predator in Paradise for the above reasons, I will throw in a plug for Alaska Hunt by Somerset which was also an outdoorsy story that I enjoyed quite a bit.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.