Book review: 'Hunted' delivers action-packed, suspenseful mystery

By Branden Hurst

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 20 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

"HUNTED," by Clair M. Poulson, Covenant Communications, $16.99, 242 pages (f)

Zach Barlow, a young returned Mormon missionary, organizes a hunting party with a group of his friends. Against his better judgment, he allows Caden Pendleton, a newcomer in town, to join the group when he offers to pay the expenses. Barlow quickly regrets his decision when Pendleton's actions cause nothing but trouble for the hunters.

When Pendleton turns up dead, shot by one of the hunters' rifles, their camp becomes the command center for a murder investigation. To add to their troubles, the weapon's owner, a young girl named Bria, is missing. As the Duchesne County sheriff and his deputies try to unravel the case, more people begin to disappear and the real mystery begins!

Clair Poulson served for 40 years in the criminal justice system. For the past 20 years, he has worked as a justice court judge for Duchesne County. He has served on various boards and councils during his professional career, including the Justice Court Board of Judges, Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, Utah Judicial Council, Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, an FBI advisory board and others. His experiences in these roles give him a unique insight into the justice system, which he draws upon to add a very realistic element to his writing.

He depicts small-town life in Utah, as well as the criminal justice system, in a way that the reader feels almost as if he was reading the events in a newspaper or watching them unfold on the evening news. The characters are very well thought out and engaging, while the backdrop is one that readers from Utah will be familiar with and able to relate to easily.

Poulson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, depicts his characters' religious beliefs in a way that does not detract from the mystery and does not give the reader the impression that he is trying to force any particular view upon them. Rather, he uses these beliefs to help reinforce how and why the characters react the way they do under certain circumstances.

LDS readers will be able to relate to these undertones, while other audiences will still enjoy the story. The theme of the book may be geared toward older readers, but Poulson has written it in a way that younger audiences would be able to enjoy it as well.

"Hunted" is an addictive roller-coaster ride that is light, enjoyable and hard to put down.

Branden Hurst is a father of four who grew up outside of Utah and the LDS faith. He has worked in the IT industry for over 14 years, but in his free time enjoys sharing in wholesome activities with his family.

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