Book 2 in the mystery series featuring park warden Jenny Willson, No Place for Wolverines features the classic standoff between big business and the environment. Jenny goes undercover at Yoho National Park in British Columbia and investigate the plans to turn the park into a ski resort, and inadvertently gets pulled into a murder investigation when a wolverine researcher in the area is killed in a mysterious fire. It turns out the plans for a ski resort also involve larger scale plans about a highway and the oil industry, all of which will have a majorly negative impact on the environment, particularly the wolverines who live in the area.
Wildlife conservation is something I’m personally passionate about, and so I loved the environmental stakes in this mystery, and the awareness it raises on issues of conservation and responsible land use. I also like the parts about Jenny’s relationship with her mother, and particularly how her mother’s depression impacts both their lives. I found their scenes together very moving, and that subplot had an intense emotional payoff at the end.
Overall, the mystery and Jenny as a series heroine were solid, but not particularly memorable. Jenny also didn’t quite strike me as tough or badass as some of the other characters said she was, though I did like how deeply she cared about her mother and about her community. I also wish there was a bit more nuance in the characterization — the profit-hungry bad guys felt almost one-dimensional in their villainy. Even though Jenny does make an effort point out the personal toll of debates such as that over the ski resort in turning neighbour against neighbour, I thought the different perspectives could have been explored more deeply.
Still, overall, it’s a solid mystery and a good, easy read. With the debate of big business versus the wolverine habitat, Butler does raise some important issues about the environment, and the often negative impact of industrializing a space for profit.
Thank you to Dundurn for an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.