Reality Show Gone Wrong – Review of “Open Carry” by Marc Cameron

U.S. Marshal Arliss Cutter is in southeastern Alaska to find the three people who have disappeared. He grew up in the Florida swamplands and has a reputation as a first-rate tracker but the harsh Alaskan climate on Prince of Wales Island offers a different set of challenges. Having served in the military fighting in the Middle East and working three other positions for Marshal Services, Cutter takes new challenges in stride.


Two of the three people who’ve disappeared were crew members of the reality TV show that’s being filmed on the island and the third is a young native girl who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and witnessed the murders. What Cutter doesn’t know is the perpetrators are ruthless killers with connections to a mining operation on the other side of the island who believe the film crew has memory cards from their cameras with photos of the killer’s face and they’re willing to kill others to get those memory cards. Cutter has to find the bodies and the film, examine the film for clues and track down the killers. Only the townspeople are no help because they’re hiding secrets too.

“Open Carry” is my first introduction to Arliss Cutter but the people who think they know him believe he has a short fuse. Way too short for a lawman. But Cutter is a stand-up guy with an unwavering sense of right and wrong and he follows all his Grumpy’s Rules. Because he couldn’t say Grandpa when he was little, he’d always called him Grumpy and now that he’s gone, Cutter is passing the wisdom of Grumpy’s rules down to his nephews. He secretly wishes for a family of his own but with three failed marriages to his credit he knows that’s unlikely to come about. So he pours all his energy into his job. And that will have to be enough.

Author Marc Cameron has woven a plot with what seems like unrelated strands but when they finally come together it all makes sense. He’s imbued Cutter with a droll, dry humor that got some grins and laughs out of me. To wit: “Chihuahua courage, I Shih Tzu not.” And Cutter at the airport describing a guy in line dressed like a lumberjack who was behaving like a “lumberjerk”.

But there are some misused words that had me doing double-takes. An author of Cameron’s stature should certainly know the difference between “defused” (as to render a bomb harmless) and “diffused” as the light coming through stands of spruce and cedar is “diffused”, giving the place an otherworldly feel. And there’s “the dinghy briefs” he referred to, except a “dinghy” is a small boat. What Cameron was going for was “dingy” briefs which were no longer whitie or tightie. (Dingy being dirty, unclean, faded, shabby.) Lastly “Garza released a penned-up breath….” I don’t know if it’s possible to pen-up a  breath but I’m sure the intent was “a pent-up breath”. That’s an easy visualization. These are amateur errors that surely should have been caught by a beta reader or a proofreader or a copy editor or someone. Was no one awake and paying attention? Four stars.

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