Gone Too Deep by Katie Ruggle

Gone Too Deep by Katie RuggleGone Too Deep by Katie Ruggle
Series: Search and Rescue, #3
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on August 2nd 2016
Pages: 448
Buy on Amazon

In the remote Rocky Mountains, lives depend on the Search & Rescue brotherhood. But in a place this far off the map, trust is hard to come by and secrets can be murder...
George Holloway has spent his life alone, exploring the treacherous beauty of the Colorado Rockies. He's the best survival expert Search and Rescue has, which makes him the obvious choice to lead Ellie Price through deadly terrain to find her missing father. There's just one problem-Ellie's everything George isn't. She's a city girl, charming, gregarious, delicate, small. And when she looks up at him with those big, dark eyes, he swears he would tear the world apart to keep her safe.
With a killer on the loose, he may have no choice.
Ellie's determined to find her father no matter the cost. But as she and her gorgeous mountain of a guide fight their way through an unforgiving wilderness, they find themselves in the crosshairs of a dangerous man in search of revenge. And they are now his prey...

‘Gone Too Deep’ brings us back into the back country of the Colorado mountains where a mysterious mountain-man hermit’s life is about to be disrupted big time by a pint-sized city-girl looking for her father who has gotten himself in trouble. ‘Gone too Deep’ is by no means a perfect book, but enjoyable and fascinating enough for me as I shadowed George’s and Ellie’s perilous trek through the woods with that same hushed awe Ellie had for George’s skills. But for the reasons above, I’m still left scratching my head trying to decide how I should rate this book, torn as I am between the characters and the lack of plot development and closure.

Apart from the intricate SAR work that shows Katie Ruggle’s own experience and knowledge, what the book clearly has going for it is its cast and crew: they’re special, quirky and loveable in their own ways and the sheer diversity of their personalities is breathtaking across Ruggle’s three books. George Holloway is taciturn, reserved to the point of requiring sign-language, so much so that Ellie Price’s bubbling personality was sharply painful in contrast at times.

But it’s easy to like George and Ellie – the awkwardness, the slow burn, the sweet romance – simply because this pairing is so improbable that it actually does work out, and rather convincingly so. Yet I couldn’t help but feel cock-blocked at the deliberate pushing back of the suspense – the story arc of which will only be complete in the next book – and as a result, the threat here from two meth dealers in the snowy woods seemed to drag unnecessarily on as a distraction from the ongoing drama of the headless guy murder and the loose ends that’d been dangled in the first book and were never tied up.

The lack of forward-moving action did frustrate me somewhat, save for the shocking (and sad) revelation at the last page. (I did have an inkling how it was going to play out that way, but I didn’t want it like that!) That said, very little plot-wise, happens in this book: Ellie gets a phone call from her estranged, mentally unstable dad, takes off to find him, discovers a bigger mystery that isn’t solved, meets and falls in love with her mountain-man guide and gets tangled in with dangerous stragglers and dealers on the way.

And that, in a nutshell, is ‘Gone Too Deep’.

The climax, as a result of the escalating action throughout the book, wasn’t unexpected, and the epilogue that followed was predictable and without closure. I think I would have loved the story move if I’d gotten to see a bigger change in George however; as seamlessly as he slots into the sweet mountain-man category complete with grunts and shrugs, it would have been great had he broken out of that mould a little more and become less of an expert in unspoken communication.

I do know I want to see how the entire arc gets resolved, even if I’m dreading how it’s going to end quite unhappily with a good guy turned bad – so is this really called anticipation then?