Whenever we drop in on forester Lehigh Carter, he’s behind the wheel, scanning the darkness in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains and feeling extremely tense.
In “The Mountain Man’s Dog,” the first whodunit starring Carter, he’s driving alone — until, against his cranky better judgment, he rescues an injured stray dog and asks the local sheriff for help. His reluctant kindness triggers an unexpected chain of events and exposes corruption and danger everywhere from small-town law enforcement to the Statehouse.
Carter “does spend a lot of time in his vehicle. He’s a loner,” said author Gary Corbin. “He’s a guy who lives out in the Cascades, and he’s spent a lot of time moving around.”
You’d think Carter would be cheerier in the sequel, “The Mountain Man’s Bride,” because his gorgeous fianc? is driving the icy mountains with him. But Carter is still tense. There’s more trouble ahead, of course, and it’s not just the challenge of blissfully tying the knot despite lingering home-remodel jobs. A cop who made their lives miserable in the first book turns up dead in this one, and the couple is accused of his murder. In the end, Carter must play a game of legal chicken to infiltrate a conspiracy of violent thugs, crooked cops and greedy politicians.
Those bad guys aren’t drawn directly from Corbin’s background, but the forestry work and the rustic setting are. Corbin’s ancestors were loggers “who lived in a rough part of the world, the Maine woods,” he said. “They were poor. It was a tough life, and it always intrigued me. A lot of the characters who show up in the book are borrowed from the many characters that filled my living room growing up.”
IF YOU GO
• Meet Gary Corbin, author of “The Mountain Man’s Bride.”
• When: 1-4 p.m. Feb. 25.
• Where: Vintage Books, 6613 Mill Plain Blvd.
• On the web: http://garycorbinwriting.com/
Corbin said he moved in the early 1990s from the “rat race” of Washington, D.C., to Portland, where he worked for the city in information technology. He started his own consulting business and still does that part time; he’s been glad that the work itself has evolved from mostly technical writing to mostly creative work for clients, he said. A few years ago, he moved to Camas.
Meanwhile, Corbin has been churning out plays and novels. Preceding these two “Mountain Man” mysteries was a celebrated crime thriller called “Lying in Judgment”; a sequel to that is expected out later this year. He’s also acted in many local theater productions.
Corbin will read from “The Mountain Man’s Bride” and sign books 1-4 p.m. Feb. 25 at Vintage Books, 6613 Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver.