A murder mystery that involves Geocaching – what more could I ask for, right? And actually this book was pretty good until the last few pages. For anyone who doesn’t know, geocaching is where people hide a container and post the coordinates on the geocaching website for people to find. Some hides are pretty straight-forward, while others are tricky and require thought and ingenuity. It happens to be a hobby I am pretty active in.
Cliff Knowles is a newly retired FBI agent, coping with the death of his wife and his newfound idleness by taking up a new hobby – geocaching. While searching for a cache, he comes across skeletal remains. Soon, a second, more recent victim is found near another geocache Cliff recently found. It turns out there is a connection between him and the first victim, and soon suspicion is focused on him. Cliff must try to find out who the owner of the caches is, as well as what is happening and why he has been drawn into it.
I found Cached Out to be well-written as a mystery. I enjoyed the references to geocaching and the details of his finds, but even if you’re not into geocaching, it’s a decent mystery on its own. The pace is fast as events move along and propel the story. He gives enough information to keep the reader guessing and interested in what will happen, with some geocaching thrown in. You don’t need to be a geocacher to enjoy the book. I really couldn’t figure out the entire picture until the very end when it was revealed and the revelation was a surprising one.
I can’t talk about why I ended up hating the book and giving it a one-star rating on Goodreads without spoiling the ending. I don’t know what to think of the author, Russell Atkinson. Reading his biography, he was an FBI Special Agent for 25 years. Obviously once he retired he decided to become a writer. I felt that the character of Clifford Knowles is a bit him inserting himself into the story. There’s nothing wrong with that – many authors do that. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Here, everything was fine.
Until I reached his 10 months later chapter.
You see, the killer’s motivation was poisoning drugs that were being sold to addicts to try to force them to give up their addiction as a way of reducing other crimes. If a few addicts die along the way, so what? The goal is to make them afraid to buy drugs; that they risk dying from getting a poisoned batch. If a few (or many) die along the way, then so what? They’re only drug addicts anyway and hardly worth being concerned about.
It’s okay for a villain to think that way, but Atkinson seems to make a case for this in his 10 month follow-up. He makes the case that crime is way down in an area of California where “overdoses” are up – only they aren’t really overdoses as the drugs were laced with something else. In fact, he describes the protagonist of the story “walking away smiling” when he puts it all together that a certain person is still out there doing this.
It makes me question his career as an FBI agent, that he puts to paper that a “good guy” is okay with this, especially when the character seems to be modeled after himself.
I cannot recommend anything written in this vein. I lost my own child to suicide due to drug addiction. All those people he seems to think deserve to die because they are addicts have people who love them. They are children, parents, siblings, etc. of people who love and care about them. They are not mindless, faceless people who deserve to die because they have a disease known as addiction.
I will stay far away from anything written by Russell Atkinson in the future.