Book Reviews

Wilderness by B. E. Jones — betrayed and dangerous

Cover of Wilderness, a thriller by B E Jones set in the National Parks of USA.

The last thing I expected from a thriller about a vengeful wife was to be taken on a nostalgic road journey through the American great outdoors.  But through Wilderness I re-lived magical holidays from years past when I visited Monument Valley, Grand Canyon and Yosemite. Unlike the main character Olivia (Liv), however, I wasn’t constantly thinking about pushing my husband over a canyon rim or sending him tumbling down Yosemite’s Half Dome.  Not even when Mr Booker Talk ignored my directions and took us off on detours.

In Wilderness ,Liv and Will Taylor set out on a 1,500 miles road trip across four states to try and repair their marriage. He’s contrite about an affair with a stunning PR executive for a hotel chain, promising his wife that he’s knocked it on the head. The trip will be a chance, he thinks, to put all that behind them and to recapture the romance in the marriage. 

But Liv is in no mood for forgiveness. She has her own plan for the holiday, one that requires Will to pass three tests, three opportunities to prove he is truly repentant. He has to surprise his wife with a thoughtful romantic gesture, be spontaneous and seize a sense of occasion and finally to stay calm and look after Liv  if things go wrong. 

And if he doesn’t?  Liv has done her research and knows that America’s national parks can be dangerous places. All it would take is a nudge or a stage-managed trip and Will would become just another statistic in the parks’ annual toll of deaths by falls, slips, drownings and dehydration. 

The plot of Wilderness switches back and forth between the trip itself and the events that led to Liv feeling utterly betrayed. To say she is hell bent on revenge is an understatement — this woman is spitting fire. But she’s also human and her actions to bring down the “skinny, skank-whore years younger than me” do take their toll, her courage to persist coming from large quantities of Jack Daniels whisky.

She elicits our sympathy even as we watch her actions spiral from stalking Will’s paramour to spiking her drinks, sending her nasty text messages and leaving compromising photographs in her work place.

This is a carefully plotted and well-paced novel that has a strong central character. Will the husband and some of the other characters are not as fully formed but they’re there really more as a foil to Liv. She’s the one through whose eyes we witness every situation and development.

Wilderness is certainly an intense read. If you need some relief from the tension, at the back of the book there’s a play list of tracks that the author listened to while sending her central character on the Great American Road Trip.  Chemical Brothers accompany the Monument Valley chapters, Stereophonics get their turn at the Grand Canyon and U2 blast their way from Yosemite to Death Valley. 

Or you can discover how B E Jones gained inspiration for the book during her own holiday adventures hiking among majestic mountains and canyons. Standing on the rim of one canyon she began to imagine how someone with murderous intent might act in a moment of madness. I think if I were her partner, I’d be rather nervous what the was thinking of when I was just enjoying the scenery.

Wilderness by B E Jones: Footnotes

As a former print and broadcast journalist and police press officer, B. E Jones is familiar with the world of crime and the darker side of human nature. She has published six novels, all psychological thrillers available in paperback or e-format. Wilderness was published by Constable, an imprint of Little Brown in 2019. B.E Jones currently lives in South Wales.


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

13 thoughts on “Wilderness by B. E. Jones — betrayed and dangerous

  • Tars

    Loved the book. Anticipating the Prime series in spite of mixed reviews. Am I going crazy? I remember Will’s girlfriend’s name as being different in the book than in the series.

    • i haven’t looked at the series yet so not sure about the character names yet. The reviews for the serialisation haven’t been very good unfortunately.

  • Pingback: Meet a Welsh Author: Beverley Jones fantasises about college life : BookerTalk

  • Oh boy! I’m clicking through for the ebook as soon as I’ve pushed the “post comment” button. This does sound juicy!

  • Not a thriller fan but I’ve also enjoyed four holidays in the American Southwest and would be more than happy to be transported back there. Fabulous landscape!

    • It’s hard to find the words to describe how stunning those locations can be

  • This is a book I doubt if I’d have picked up from the library shelf. I’m intrigued now. It’s on order. Thanks!

  • I’m definitely intrigued! Funny you post this now when in the US we have a major case of a young couple who went to a National Park. Then the wife disappeared. Then found dead. The boyfriend drove back home. And now the FBI is looking for him.
    There’s also a series of thrillers all set in national parks. The series is called Anna Pigeon, by Nevada Barr. She has written 19 so far. I haven’t read any yet, but planning on trying #1 one day

    • Oh my gosh I hadn’t made the connection to the recent disappearance. It’s been widely reported here in UK but not in as much detail as I suspect you are seeing

  • tracybham

    Great review. Even though I read mostly crime fiction, this is not my usual type of book. But your review has me interested in the story.

    • Its rare for me to read thrillers Tracy but sometimes if I’ve been reading a string of heavy “issue-based” novels I need to give the brain a rest


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