Roanoke Ridge: A Creature X Mystery (2020) – J.J. Dupuis

The search for truth and proof combine in a fast-paced, enjoyable read from Toronto’s J.J. Dupuis in Roanoke Ridge. Classified as A Creature X Mystery, the novel combines a mystery (though easily solved) with a healthy dose of, and balanced look at, cryptozoology. One cryptid in particular is at the heart of this story, that creaure known as the elusive skunk ape, sasquatch, you know… bigfoot.

Laura Reagan is a popular blogger, contempating selling her Science is Awesome site for big money, when she is asked to help in the search for a missing family friend. Professor Sorel , mentor, grandfather-figure, sasquatch hunter, bigfoot obsessor has gone missing in Roanoke, Oregon. His wife Barbara has reached out to Laura to help in the search and rescue, and all of it is taking place in the midst of the annual Bigfoot Festival, a gathering of believers and party-goers all hoping for a glimpse of something that has eluded modern man for decades.

Filled with some familiar feeling characters from the Bigfoot hunting world, hoaxers and believers alike, Laura finds herself in some serious problems with her friend Saad, when Sorel isn’t found, but a murdered body is recovered from Roanoke Ridge, where her own father filmed a supposed encounter with two sasquatch.

What started as a search and rescue becomes a murder investigation, and a larger than life monster hunt while specialty channel cameras watch.

Filled with little pop culture references, and characters who talk like real people, Dupuis guides us through the mystery tempting those of us who want to believe with something more, while grounding the story in the reality of our behaviours, intentions, and the secrets families keep.

I really enjoyed this read, it’s fast, enjoyable, layered in information culled on the subject matter, and its descriptions lead me through locations that seem hauntingly familiar to me – I’ve been in diners like the ones he describes, passed through the smalltowns, and looked out at the mass of wilderness and wondered.

Is there something out there, even after all this time? Was there ever? There are legends from countless cultures, there are stories, reports… but who knows?! That’s not the point of Dupuis’ engaging story, it’s merely a fun backdrop for an enjoyable mystery.

Towards the end of the novel, Dupuis lays groundwork for future instalments, and I’m sure to come along for the ride, as I enjoy his storytelling, and while Roanoke Ridge doesn’t give a definite answer on the existence (or not) of a large hairy manlike cryptid travelling in America’s northwest it ties up Laura’s involvement with the subject quite nicely.

She returns in Lake Crescent which is out now and is available from Dundurn Press, find it in your bookstore today!

This is the perfect read for a summer afternoon!

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