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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
The Gorge is an adventure thriller novel written by Ronald M. Berger. Whitewater rafting in the Hudson Gorge during the spring runoff was dangerous and often deadly, but the bizarre deaths of two guides from one outfit in one week was definitely out of the ordinary. Richard Carlyle had been a rookie guide ten years earlier, before he went back to school and became a professor of criminology in Albany. Still, each spring, he was drawn to the gorge. On that Saturday in late March, he would be checking out Ryan Marshall’s newest protege, a burly ex-Navy Seal named Art Sanders. Everything seemed fine at first, despite the fact that the river was still considerably iced up and the water up to its most turbulent challenges. Sanders was leaning back, giving everything he had to guide his raft, when onlookers saw him tumble head over heels into the water. Later, Marshall and Carlyle would discover evidence convincing them Sanders’s death was the result of faulty equipment at best; at worst, he was the victim of deliberate sabotage...
Ronald M. Berger’s The Gorge is a fabulous read. While I’ve never been whitewater rafting, I love hiking in the outdoors and open-water swimming. Berger’s descriptions of the hikes Carlyle takes as he follows the trail of the saboteur had me Googling the Hudson Gorge Wilderness and considering that area as a relocation option. Something about those vast woodlands and untrodden territories filled with lakes kept me almost as mesmerized as I was by the mystery of the saboteur’s identity and his ability to predict the Marshall outfit’s moves. Berger’s characters are authentic and soon came to feel real, especially Richard Carlyle, who was brilliant not only as an investigator but also in his capacity as a professor. The problems students and faculty alike face with administrations that seem divorced from the real world and blithely unaware of the impact their decisions have on others is a compelling side plot in this well written and exciting story. I’d love to see more of Richard Carlyle and will be watching this author for more works of this caliber. The Gorge is most highly recommended.