Boulder Book Store
Panel with Jennifer Milchman, Linda Hull, Carter Wilson
Wednesday, May 29
1107 Pearl St.
Thursday, June 20
With Warren Hammond & Cyndi Meyers
Brown Bag Lunch
Friday, Sept. 6
Alliance Public Library
Lakewood Library Book Club
Thursday, Oct. 3
10200 W. 20th Ave.
Nov. 1 and Nov. 2
High Plains Library District
Centennial Park Library
2227 23rd Ave, Greeley
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Rated Five Stars (Top Rating) on Amazon with 42 reviews to date (Sept. 2009).
Top Ten on Pop Syndicate!
Antler Dust made a "Best Of" list on Pop Syndicate:
Best of 2007 - Angela Wilson
10. The Adventures of Guy, Written by a Guy (probably) Norm Cowie
9. Antler Dust by Mark Stevens
8. Wicked Dead 2: Torn Stefan Petrucha & Thomas Pendleton
7. Dry Ice, Stephen White
6. Open Me, Sunshine O’Donnell
5. Innocent as Sin, Elizabeth Lowell
4. Blood Poison by D.H. Dublin
3. The Skull, A Remy and Roadkill Mystery, S.D. Tooley
2. Hide, Lisa Gardner
1. Teen Inc. Stefan Petrucha
"Antler Dust, the first in the Allison Coil series, is an excellent debut for Mark Stevens. The writing is flawless. Stevens even-handedly handles the issues of hunting from both the pro and con viewpoints. As for antler dust, it is definitely in the 'con' category, an example of the lengths some people will go to make a buck — or a lot of bucks. The setting is vividly described, letting the reader experience both the beauty and the danger of the wilderness in winter. Allison has her flaws, but she demonstrates the resilience of the human spirit."
- Over My Dead Body (Web site) 2011 Full Review
"Author Mark Stevens develops his characters in such a way that you hear their thoughts, see their views and want to keep reading as the story continues to unfold. Even the villains are likable which draws you even further into their warped minds. Author Mark Stevens' ability to describe our local wilderness with eloquence and appreciation contributes to the reading pleasure. I understand Mark has another book in the works - I stand ready to devour the next one."
- The Summit Daily News
"From its haunting opening - two shots heard in the midst of a swirling blizzard, and the subsequent discovery of a trophy elk and an animal-rights protestor, both very dead - "Antler Dust" functions on two fast-paced levels: that of a mystery, as well as keenly observed social commentary on the cultural conflicts playing out in the New West.
Mark Stevens' first novel introduces hunting guide Allison Coil, who hears one killing and stumbles across another as she is trying to beat the storm home. Coil's new occupation is an attempt to flee the demons of her high-powered New York past. But her new life in the rugged terrain of Colorado's Western Slope is no less stressful as she slowly comes to realize that she's caught in a deadly international scheme. The novel isn't a whodunit - that's clear from the start - but why.
Stevens' narrative, besides providing a deliciously cool read during a beastly summer, also turns a sharp, humorous eye on the skirmishes among longtime Westerners who fill their refrigerators with elk they've shot, the wealthy trophy hunters who jet in for a quick kill, saving the antlers and discarding the meat; and the PETA-sympathizing suburban outsiders pouring into Colorado's high country who clash with both.
One of Stevens' more enjoyable characters is that of Dean Applegate "a Gomer Crockett in head-to-toe camouflage," as a local dismisses him, who leaves the ranks of hunters for the self-righteous charms of a FATE (Fighting Animal Torture Everywhere) leader.
Meanwhile, Stevens' protagonist, the worldly Coil, serves as a counterpoint to Trudy Grumley, a shy, semi-invalid who surrounds herself with cats and houseplants to avoid dealing with her rough-hewn and ruthless husband, George, one of the area's biggest outfitters. Trudy's increasing independence mirrors her awareness that George's financial success goes well beyond the hunting-guide business.
Oddly, given its testosterone-saturated setting and situation, the female characters in "Antler Dust" are more nuanced than the men. And, the intricate plot might have one too many twists and turns. That said, the book rockets toward a conclusion that, thankfully, leaves open the possibility of new adventures for Allison Coil.
- The Great Falls (Montana) Tribune
"Stevens puts an intimate knowledge of the Colorado mountains to good use, bringing Coil's outdoor life vividly to the page to give the reader an insider's look at a guide's routine...The Colorado crime scene has gained a strong new voice, as well as a new character to watch in Allison Coil."
- The Rocky Mountain News
"Allison is a standout protagonist who comes across as someone who survived almost certain death yet has the courage and smarts to remake her life at the edge of a Colorado wilderness. With its unique setting and diverse cast, Antler Dust makes a fast-paced, intriguing addition to the list of new thrillers."
- The Denver Post
"The number of fine Colorado crime writers just increased by one. Mark Stevens shows the adept touch of a seasoned mystery writer and displays the avid affection of someone who knows and loves the mountain wilderness. Antler Dust is a wonderful, compelling debut—you won't find a fresher, more satisfying new voice.”
- Stephen White, best-selling author of Kill Me and Missing Persons
"...author Mark Stevens holds together this tightly-woven tale of murder, greed, adultery and revenge with the skill of a seasoned pro."
- Angela Wilson, www.popsyndicate.com
"What a WOW of a first novel!"
(Five-star review posted on Amazon)
The best writing is writing which is invisible to the reader. It lets you sink right into the story and become part of the action. That's the way first-time author Mark Stevens has written this novel, Antler Dust. There is nothing to clog our thoughts or make us second-guess what the author means. We can just plunge into the story and read it through to the end.
Antler Dust takes place in the Colorado Rockies during elk-hunting season. Plenty of action is going on already, when an animal rights group shows up to protest the hunt. But out there in the drifting snow and cold, two people will die-one of them an animal rights protestor who dresses up like a deer and goes up the mountain hoping to make an example of himself. His hope is realized.
Meanwhile, another hunting guide simply disappears. The readers will see what happens to him right away, but that doesn't detract from the story, since there is more going on here than hunting and killing. Lead character Allison Coil hears a shot that is muffled by the snow and distance, and later sees the snow-dashed shape of a figure lugging something downhill. When she starts to investigate what she has seen, it leads her to rival outfitter George Grumley, who "always gets his elk" -- using technology which is forbidden on the hunt. From there, Allison unwinds a crooked trail which will lead her to suspect everyone she trusts and holds dear.
This very readable and enjoyable novel is a fine first effort by a new author. Armchair Interviews says: Excellent first novel. Hope many more books are in his (and our future).
"Mark Stevens shows with this debut that he is definitely an author worth watching and reading; there are several points in Antler Dust where he at least equals the writing of (Stephen) White and (Nicholas) Evans…marking a fine debut novel from an author whom I’m sure has a long and illustrious writing career ahead of him."
- Douglas R. Cobb / curledup.com
Complete review: www.curledup.com/antlerdu.htm
"This book was a thrill to read...I loved Coil's character and her attitude toward life...The language was tasty and inventive. It pulled me through the story as easily as a movie on the screen, made me forget I was reading a book."
- The Loveland Reporter-Herald
"Mark Stevens is a natural born storyteller who knows how to makes things move -- the most important ingredient in compelling writing. His first book proves that and is a great beginning."
- Stephen Singular, best-selling author of Unholy Messenger (Scribner)
"Stevens, a Colorado resident and former Denver Post reporter and news producer for the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour, has crafted a page-turner with all the makings of a great mystery: two deaths and a variety of characters who aren't really what they appear to be...
"Stevens' knowledge of the region is evident in the setting he creates - a perfectly believable locale in the central Rockies...The book is well-written from start to finish. Stevens' skill as a writer occasionally shines with the occasional gold coin, where prose and plot sing in perfect harmony."
- The Aspen Times
Antler Dust is a first-rate thriller. Though you know from the early pages "whodunit" the excitement is in the chase, which doesn't let up until the very end. Stevens also does an excellent job handling the specific subject matter of Antler Dust. Though hunters and campers are likely to get a bit more from some scenes, there is no need for wilderness neophytes to shy away from the book. Explanations are brief and not bogged down with details that would confuse armatures and bore the professionals, but they're clear and understandable and do an excellent job introducing readers to wild Colorado. Tight, straightforward writing and a never-let-up pace make Antler Dust a superb debut novel for Stevens. Let's hope he has more in store.
- Front Street Reviews (www.frontstreetreviews.com)
"With laudably unsentimental prose and sure command of character, Antler Dust takes us on a dark hunting trip through the snowy Rockies. Pitting a tough but vulnerable heroine against a killer out to bag more than elk, Mark Stevens give new meaning to the term trophy kill."
- Stephanie Kane, best-selling author of Seeds of Doubt (Scribner) and Extreme Indifference (Scribner)
"Reading Mark Stevens is like reading Ken Follett at his best. Stevens takes a superbly drawn main character—a woman who is as sexy as she is resilient—and throws her into a maze of jeopardy that hooks you right down to the last page."
- Mark Graham, author of The Harbinger (Henry Holt) and The Fire Theft (Viking Penguin)
"A high-country thriller that takes the classic Western and turns it on its head. Packed with offbeat characters, tightly written and loaded with great scenes."
- Philip Reed, author of Bird Dog (Pocket Books)
"How much is fate and how much is choice in our lives? What are people capable of, both good and bad? Mark Stevens has written a story that has the reader asking questions like these. Allison Coil isn’t just a woman of our times, she’s timeless, strong, vulnerable, and a thoroughly believable character. So are the other players in this story of greed, ideals, and personal reclamation. By the end of this read, you just might find yourself clapping, as I did."
- Melanie Mulhall, author of Living The Dream
"Antler Dust is an easy read and has all the elements of a good novel with its opening hook and inventive plot. I even found Stevens’ surprising ending to be quite a bold stroke…Antler Dust is a solid effort and I look forward to reading more from Mark Stevens."