After recently being introduced to Nicholas Evans by a photographer friend, I was thrilled to run across The Loop at my local secondhand bookshop.
Originally published in 1998, The Loop takes place in Hope, Montana. Wildlife biologist Helen Ross is sent to the town of cattle ranchers as part of a government project to study and protect wolves reintroduced to the area. She meets the powerful, womanizing rancher Buck Calder and, against his father’s wishes, begins working with his sensitive, estranged 18-year-old son, Luke.
The storyline is fascinating, and I especially enjoyed learning about the behavior of the wolves, though there were some brutal scenes involving the animals.
I also connected with one of the main characters, which is always critical to my enjoyment of a book. With his speech impediment, connection to nature, and difficult relationship with his father, Luke was a unique character who had me rooting for him from the beginning.
I didn’t connect with Helen as much as with Julia, the female lead in The Smoke Jumper, my first read by Evans. Helen’s persona seemed more defined by her past failed romantic relationships rather than standing out as a strong character of her own. I would have rather seen her portrayed more as the intelligent biologist she was, who owned her talents and moral convictions, rather than as a sobbing, heartbroken mess.
I did appreciate how this book ended. There was a moment when I almost threw the book across the room and was relieved when I turned the page, and it didn’t go where I thought it was headed.
Ultimately, this book took me on another memorable journey. I’m looking forward to my next Nicholas Evans read and may try The Horse Whisperer next.
Read my review of The Smoke Jumper here.