Michael McBride is a very skilled writer and just as good a researcher, as almost everything I have read by him is rich in technical detail. His 2012 novella Snowblind is a wonderful example of both of these things, and remains my favourite work of his. So it was with no small sense of expectation that I approached this sequel to that outstanding effort.
Snowblind II: The Killing Grounds follows a small group of people who march into a remote area of the Rockies, looking for evidence of what befell a lost group of skiers some seven years earlier. Among their number are the Sheriff who featured at the end of Snowblind in a small cameo, the boyfriend of one of the missing skiers who has never given up searching for her, and a ranger looking for answers regarding what is killing the animals he is tracking.
The rest is vintage McBride, with tension that slowly ratchets up before there is an explosion of action and bloodshed. That said, the major gripe I have is it never felt like the ending was in any doubt, given the knowledge readers of the preceding novella have about what is waiting for the searchers and just how deadly said threat is.
Still, the destination is not always the most important part of the journey, and in this case, McBride manages to elicit some genuine warmth for at least one of his characters whose connection to his lost girlfriend is heart-rending.
Though not as engaging or as surprising as its predecessor, Snowblind II is a worthy sequel and one that fans of McBride should waste not a second getting their hands on.
3.5 Escalating Heartbeats for Snowblind II: The Killing Grounds.