Like Mark Twain and Toni Morrison, Heller has a rare talent that hooks both literary and commercial readers. The book's irresistible suspense springs from the dynamic between his elegant, visionary imagination as it immerses you in the wilderness of the American West and its sleek-and-scruffy small towns, and his unerring instinct for writing classy, edge-of-your-seat, page-turning whodunits ... Heller handles scenes and scenarios that guide and haunt Celine's interior life with masterful, emotional, and action-packed strokes, making her one of this year's most unforgettable characters. It's as if Heller took the tender yet tough-as-nails personality of writer Annie Proulx and cast her on the page, in all her plainspoken, intellectually impeccable, deeply wise—and wise-ass—glory ... Heller creates a breathtaking canvas against which his taut, twisting storytelling unfolds. There is a shimmering quality to his sentences when his characters are out in the elements, exercising their human ingenuity alongside the inscrutable workings of the natural world, in all its beauty and danger.
...what's difficult is swallowing the whole thing in full: believing that Celine not only became a detective, but became so good at it (with a clearance rate on her cases of 96 percent) that she had to turn down offers from the FBI ... But (deep breath), I'm not sure if any of this matters. First because Heller is a gifted writer uniquely capable of describing both the play of Colorado aspen leaves in the last week of September and the strange melancholy that can trigger in the heart of someone who has already seen more autumns than are left ahead of them. And second because I'm not sure how much weight of reality ought to be given to any detective story ... It is a romp, is what I'm saying. Beautifully written, fun if you don't look too close, and touched with just enough heartbreak to make it feel heavier than it actually is. It's a book for anyone who ever wondered what happened to Nancy Drew after she grew up
At times Heller portrays Celine as the female counterpart to the Dos Equis World's Most Interesting Man mythic figure ... At times one is struck by just how American Heller's novel is: it's a paean to our national parks, celebrity worship, Ivy League universities and gun obsession ... The novel's final act and political revelation turns upon the disquieting power used by such an American aristocrat, and Heller's ultimate implication hints that — for the very rich and well-born — the secrets stay hidden.