Dyed In The Green – Book Review – International Game Warden Magazine

Dyed In the Green – Book Review by Gerry Lister

I received a “sponsored ad” on my Facebook for a book titled Dyed In The Green which was published in early 2015. It is a novel written by a retired Canadian National Park Warden who worked in national parks all over Canada. The information provided said that the book would be the first in a series of books inspired by the men and women of Canada’s national parks. The synopsis for the book states: “National Park Warden Ben Matthews expected challenges with his new posting at Cape Breton Highlands. But he got more than he bargained for. Facing a notorious poacher with a reputation for letting nothing get in his way, and the local communities who viewed poaching as part of their way of life, Ben and the park wardens are drawn into an intricate game of cat and mouse that takes a turn no one could have imagined.

Set along the world-famous Cabot Trail, Dyed In The Green is a powerful story of egos, greed and corruption, pulling readers along on an emotional rollercoaster that weaves bitter rivalries into a gripping story about protecting one of Canada’s iconic, special places.”

Well I was sold. If the book measured up to this synopsis, it should be a decent read. I was particularly intrigued with the fact that it was a novel about park wardens set in my home country. My fear was that it would just be a Canadianized version of the Nevada Barr novels, which, for the most part, are just murder mysteries with the US National Parks as the backdrop. I don’t mind a good murder mystery, but because I prefer to read “warden books”, I always hope that the next novel I read doesn’t veer too far that way. I contacted George and obtained a copy for review.

The first chapter of Dyed In The Green didn’t let on where this book would go, but as the chapters began to unfold, it was clear that this was primarily a book about some of the hurdles faced by parks wardens of a decade or more ago. Although no specific time period is ever stated, one can assume that the author is drawing upon his own experiences in the Cape Breton Highlands, and the story is taking place in the 1980’s or 1990’s. That is further borne out by the author’s very good depiction of the working conditions of the wardens, and the fact that the wardens are generalists, and go about their duties without the benefit of cellphones or sidearms. Anyone with any knowledge of the current Warden Service knows that they are now a small, armed and strictly law enforcement focused agency. That was not the case for nearly 100 years, and the challenges of not only being unarmed, but of not being autonomous from the individual park’s Superintendent, and of having only semi-functional equipment are key elements of this story.

Author George Mercer has created his own unique, but historically accurate genre with Dyed In The Green. While drugs, murder and other crimes are prevalent in this book, they are not the main substance of the story. We are all aware that many hardcore poachers also have a propensity for other crimes, so it is not a stretch to have the two worlds overlap as they do in this novel. The way that the author then takes certain elements of the criminal world and the wildlife poaching world, and drapes them with the fabric of the Cape Breton culture to create his storyline, is really quite creative and imaginative, yet completely plausible and believable.

I really enjoyed Dyed In The Green. It was full of interesting regional characters, outsiders trying to fit in but do their job, suspense, action, drama and sorrow. I was drawn into the story and found it very compelling and captivating. Not only was it a book that I found hard to put down, but it was one that left me wanting more when it was done. I have to say that the official synopsis for this book was pretty accurate in all respects.

I’m happy to know that more novels are planned in this series, and I am definitely looking forward to the next one, Wood Buffalo, for which there is a teaser at the end of this book.

Dyed In The Green (ISBN 978-0-9879754-0-9) is 350 pages (not including the Wood Buffalo teaser) and is available in both a soft-cover trade paperback, and also in eBook format. The book is for sale at close to 80 bookstores across Canada with a suggested retail price of $19.99. It can also be ordered directly from George by following this link – https://georgemercer.com/purchasing/. The shipping process quoted there is only for shipping within Canada, but you can contact him directly at georgemercer.com@gmail.com for “international” shipping rates. If you are eBook inclined, electronic versions of the book can be purchased online from Amazon.com ($7.89 USD, $9.99 CDN) and Kobobooks.com ($9.99 USD).

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