Reservations

Theresa Janson

Book Cover

GENRE

SUSPENSE/THRILLER MYSTERY ROMANCE CRIME

    Core Theme

    OVERCOMING MONSTER, REBIRTH

    TIME PERIOD

    Contemporary

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    WIND RIVER, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, NOCTURNAL ANIMALS, SALT

    CHARACTER LIST

    SAMANTHA “SAM” WRIGHT: 30S. LEAD. HEADSTRONG AND SELFLESS.

    WILL LITTLE BEAR: 40S. SAM'S LOVE INTEREST AND EVENTUAL HUSBAND.

    CHARLIE FALKEN: 40-50S. SAM'S FORMER LOVER AND BOSS WHO BECOMES THE MAIN ANTAGONIST.

    BRANDON LEWIS: 12-13. A BOY FROM WILL’S TRIBE WHOSE LIFE SAM SAVES.

    JESS GRAY FEATHER: 40-50S. WILL’S BUSINESS PARTNER.

    TAD COLLINS: 70S. HIRES WILL AND SAM TO DO SECURITY FOR NEW BUSINESSES HE’S CONSTRUCTING.

    Logline

    Sam, a FBI Profiler, investigates a socially and ethnically sensitive multiple murder case. Cultural identity and the lasting impact of violence and abuse drives her to save the young reservation victims while haunted by her own past traumas. FEMALE LONGMIRE

    Target Audiences

    Age: 18-34,35-54,55+

    Target Gender: Universal

    Setting

    DC, and Montana

    Based on a True Story

    No

    Publishing Details

    Status: No

    Starting Description

    Special Agent SAMANTHA WRIGHT is mourning DR. SAMPSON who died during a heinous serial killer profile involving Native American boys sexually defiled and murdered. She finds a guide on the reservation, Will Little Bear and together they put a plan together to find the killer, turns out to be twins.

    Ending Description

    Sam moves to Montana with Will. Realizes her baggage has traveled with her. The case she thought was over…isn’t. The killer (the third brother) comes to town. The conclusion of the case brings the final killer to justice, but it also brings to light the fact that the Bureau will never let her go.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    No

    ISBN

    Information not completed

    Mature Audience Themes

    Extreme Violence, Language/Profanity,Nudity

    Plot - Other Elements

    Twist

    Plot - Premise

    Overcoming Monster/Villain,Internal Journey/Rebirth,Other

    Main Character Details

    Name: Special Agent Samantha Wright

    Age: Late thirties

    Gender: Female

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Unapologetic,Leader,Strong Moral Code,Honorable,Educated,Heroic,Heartthrob,Empathetic,Romantic,Funny,Selfless,Blunt,Sexy,Confident,Complex,Decisive,Skillful

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Will Little Bear

    Age: Early forties

    Gender: Male

    Role: Sidekick

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Masculine,Badass,Charming,Complex,Sexy,Confident,Decisive,Empathetic,Selfless,Skillful,Engaging,Faithful,Romantic,Heartthrob,Heroic,Educated,Seductive,Honorable,Strong Moral Code,Leader,Unapologetic

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Charlie Falken

    Age: Late forties to early fifties

    Gender: Male

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Masculine,Badass,Aggressive,Complex,Decisive,Blunt,Power Hungry,Sarcastic,Unapologetic,Manipulative,Charming

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Development Pitch

    Special Agent SAMANTHA WRIGHT is mourning DR. SAMPSON who died during a heinous serial killer profile—a complex, socially and ethnically sensitive, multi-state case in the West involving Native American boys sexually defiled and murdered. Sam’s heart is aching, but she must continue investigating The RESERVATIONS Case. An accomplished profiler, Sam has abilities other agents don’t possess. Sam, along with her boss and part-time lover, Special Agent CHARLIE FALKEN plan to apprehend the killer. The Bureau is Sam’s life, and she is an unconventional forensic psychologist, seeing with the clarity of a seer. Her profiles are tragically accurate and psychologically warped. To cope in her macabre world of death Sam relies on her dark and self-deprecating sense of humor. Now that Dr. Sampson is dead, Sam takes his case to the Cheyenne Reservation outside Ashland, Montana to bring the serial killer to justice. To navigate the Native American culture and reservations, Sam hires a Cheyenne tracker, WILL LITTLE BEAR. Sam coordinates her efforts with the Tribal Police and local LEOs, concocts a plan to take the killer down, and figures out there are twin serial killers. She begins having feelings for Will, complicated by her boss’ feelings for her. But nothing is more important to Sam than saving the young Native American boys, though Sam’s efforts leave her near death.

    Genre

    MATURE AUDIENCE, SUSPENSE, THRILLER, ROMANCE

    Brief

    A white FBI profiler inherits a gruesome serial killer case where Native American boys from across the country are being kidnapped, mutilated, and murdered. She enlists the help of a Native tracker to help ease her way onto reservations, and together they stop the twin killers. They find love with one another afterward, far away from the FBI, but the case that brought them to together rears its head when the twins’ brother comes calling to seek justice. He dies while trying to break into their house, and they’re finally able to live a life of peace in the Montana wilderness.

    Overall Rating

    GOOD

    Point of View

    FIRST PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: GOOD

    Commerciality: GOOD

    Franchise Potential: GOOD

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: GOOD

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: GOOD

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    Yes, the Book Profile accurately reflects the book overall. The logline, summary, and pitch all do a good job of describing the book and all its themes. The author bio is a little long, and trimming it might help for it to be more successful.

    Draw of Story

    This book starts quick and doesn’t let up until Sam is in the hospital after killing one of the twins. It moves fast, immediately throwing the audience into an engaging mystery and the hunt for a killer (or, rather, two killers as we learn). The pace is absolutely breakneck for the first roughly 130 pages, and it’s an exciting thrill ride that no one will want to put down. The author also does a good job of navigating the politics inherent with the FBI attempting to investigate on Native land, explaining the difficulties of it and why those on the reservations are distrustful. This makes the world feel both unique and authentic.

    Possible Drawbacks

    Unfortunately the quick pace severely slows after Sam is in the hospital, and the time between that and when Sam begins receiving threats from the third brother stretches almost 100 pages. While it’s great to see her and Will happy in their new life together, condensing this lull in the story so that the romantic aspects and crime solving aspects are better balanced would help to avoid this. There’s another slow-down toward the end of the book, too. Sam finds the third brother in the chimney around page 318, and the book continues until page 365. Very little happens in these pages that couldn’t be shortened in order to offer a quicker and more satisfying denouement. The slower parts that focus on their relationship feel out of place with such a dynamic beginning.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY RELIES A LITTLE BIT ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    The fact that the story occurs primarily on Native American reservations is a big hook, as it’s a great way to give a look into spaces that many aren’t able to see. We’re able to see life on the Rez through Sam’s eyes, and she’s appropriately humble and wanting to be educated so as to best help these people whose community she’s joining. She’s careful and respectful, and she’s able to gain a family, a new tribe, because of it. The book doesn’t sensationalize what was done to the poor murdered boys, either. It makes a distinct effort to humanize them.

    Fanbase Potential

    Both mystery-thriller media and romance are huge genres, and the combination can be surprisingly rare. In other words, this fits a niche that could make it extremely successful and able to draw a large audience.

    Awards Potential

    Due to the genre, an adaptation is unlikely to have traditional awards potential.

    Envisioned Budget

    LOW BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    WILD RIVER, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, NOCTURNAL ANIMALS, SALT

    What’s New About the Story

    The mesh of genres in this story is so unique. It’s both a suspenseful thriller and a passionate romance, and the thriller aspect affects the characters but does not impact their romance. The investigation acts as a catalyst to get them together, but once they’re together, they’re solid. So often this genre tends toward erotic thrillers, where the protagonist is either deceiving or being deceived by their lover and that’s where the suspense arrises from. They are both exploring a deep, lasting romance while also attempting to solve a mystery (and stay alive). Weaving these two elements in a more balanced way throughout the story would help for both to be even more successful.

    Lead Characters

    Sam is a great, older version of Thomas Harris’ Clarice Starling. Sam is of course her own distinct character, but it’s easy to draw a line from naive student Clarice to a grown up and somewhat weathered Sam who has seen the darkest sides of the FBI during her career. Sam doesn’t want to be in the field, but she’s willing to tackle this challenge to save the boys. She’s also willing to give her own life. She’s commendable and empathetic, and her insistence on protecting others, including Will, makes her stand out. Despite all she’s seen and been forced to do, she still values others’ lives so highly that she’ll forget to protect her own.

    Uniqueness of Story

    The blend of genres makes this a rare gem despite having some familiar touchstones in other media. Anything that can be done to better integrate the thriller and romance storylines, balancing them throughout, will help the story to really shine. The climax with the third brother dying in the chimney is also anticlimactic, which Sam even points out within the pages. It feels like she has very little impact on the action in the last third of the book, which is a shame. She’s not the one who solves the mystery of who’s after them, nor does she get to actually do anything about it. We’ve seen her be so clever up until this point, and it would be great if she had one last send-off before officially leaving the Bureau.

    Possible Formats

    Film: Indie, Streaming

    Analyst Recommendation

    CONSIDER

    Justification

    Though there are some pacing issues with the story itself, and it sometimes feels uneven with the multiple genres, overall this is a solid thriller. The suspense works well, and the creeping dread as Sam is threatened by the third brother in what should be her safe haven of a town is palpable. The story and characters are memorable, and Sam and Will’s romance is aspirational. With a cleaner and tighter through line, this would be a great entry in the thriller genre, which just so happens to also have a beautiful love story. The Montana setting would also be extremely cinematic, featuring a starkly beautiful landscape even in the winter.

    Brief

    An FBI profiler inherits a gruesome case from her mentor upon his death, making her responsible for tracking down twin serial killers. Across multiple reservations, Native American boys are being kidnapped, mutilated, and murdered. Together with a Native tracker, she’s able to take down the killers and save more boys from a grisly fate. The two find romance afterward, but the case that brought them together rears its head when the twins’ brother comes to seek justice.

    What We Liked

    This story has a compelling and engaging mystery that begins immediately and makes it impossible to put the book down for quite some time. As the audience, you’re immediately drawn into the story and have to see it through to the end. The protagonist is a strong woman who’s not afraid to be vulnerable, which is best shown in the burgeoning romance between her and her eventual husband. Their journey together is inspirational, and it both deals with the reality of trauma and baggage, as well as how to move past it. This is ultimately a story of hope and new beginnings, and the temporary peace that these two find feels earned.

    Film: This story is so easy to see adapted into a tight thriller film. The mystery and suspense are perfect for the time constraints, and everything would only be heightened. Thrillers are a popular genre for a reason, and this is no exception. The leads’ and their romance would still be able to shine through, as their love for one another is integral to their characterizations. The Montana setting is also incredibly cinematic, and the sweeping landscapes would translate beautifully to the big screen. This story is a thrill ride from beginning to end, and audiences would flock to experience it.

    TV: A television series would allow this entire world to come alive even more. There are so many characters on both the reservation and in the small town where the protagonist settles down, and a show would give them the space to all become fully fledged people who make this already intriguing world feel that much more alive. A show could also more fully delve into the politics of the FBI investigating on reservations, as well as Sam’s own acceptance by the Cheyenne. There are layers of history here that the book is only able to touch on, and a TV show would be able to really shed light on difficult and sensitive topics in a way that would help the audience learn, too.

    Key points:
    1. Thrilling mystery
    2. Aspirational romance
    3. Unique setting
    4. Overall diverse cast
    5. Female protagonist

    Synopsis

    FBI analyst SAM mourns the death of her mentor, SAMPSON. Sampson was working on a gruesome murder case involving several Native American boys, and now it’s Sam’s responsibility. They were kidnapped, mutilated, and murdered, all around their twelfth birthdays, and from reservations all over the West. Sam breaks off her affair with CHARLIE, her boss at the Bureau, and sets off for Montana. There she meets WILL, an expert tracker and member of the Cheyenne tribe. Sam has to persuade Will to take her to where the last boy was found despite it being sacred ground. He agrees to take her into the wilderness, and they grow closer throughout the trip, culminating with a kiss. Sam realizes the killer is actually two: a set of twins. That’s how they’ve been covering so much ground, and why the DNA found at the scenes is the same. THE FBI narrows it down to two boys who are the right age to be next: BRANDON in Montana and ANOTHER BOY in Wyoming.

    Charlie puts Sam in charge of staying in Montana and leading the charge, even though she’s not an agent and they could both get in trouble. She and Will catch the KILLER before he can kill Brandon, and they both take bullets in the ensuing fight. Sam kills the man, but she’s gravely injured. The OTHER TWIN is taken into custody, where he commits suicide. When Sam wakes up in the hospital, Will commits himself to her, and vice versa. She wants to wait until she’s fully recovered, though. Two years later, she leaves D.C. and sets off for Montana. There she discovers that Will has been preparing for their life together. He sold the lodge he ran for tourists and built them a beautiful home. Sam is retired from the FBI, though Charlie left her officially on the payroll as a consultant. Will runs a successful tracking business and often takes customers on trips into the wilderness. Brandon now helps him with the horses in the stable.

    They settle into their new life together. Sam is accepted into the tribe, and they’re set to be married and trying to have a family. Everything seems idyllic, until Sam begins receiving cryptic emails that imply one of the killers is still alive. She keeps this from Will, not wanting to worry him, but the actions escalate. Her tire is slashed when she’s in town, and she sees a strange MAN who looks like the twins. Sam begins carrying a gun, not knowing who to trust. She sees the strange man again and chases after him, spraining her ankle in the process. Sam looking into the case on her own gets flagged in the system, and Charlie tells Will what she’s doing behind his back. Will is upset that Sam would keep this from him, but he understands that she’s a protector. Will talks to JESS, his business partner and the medicine man in their tribe, and Jess informs Will that Sam is pregnant but doesn’t know it yet. Will doesn’t tell her, and it should be impossible as he hasn’t had his vasectomy reversed yet.

    They get married at city hall and plan a full ceremony in the summer. They then lie in wait for this man to find them, hiding in their house behind security systems and trying to go about their lives as normal. Sam is attempting to light a fire while Will is at the stables, but the chimney is backed up. She climbs on the roof to see why, and she finds the strange man in the chimney, dead. He tried to get into their house and got stuck, dying of exposure. He’s the THIRD BROTHER of the twins, whom Sam was never told about despite it being her case. Charlie hid the information so the FBI could use Sam and Will as bait. Sam quits the Bureau for good. The couple learns officially that Sam is pregnant. The reader learns that SCOTTY, who bought the lodge from Will, was secretly funded by Charlie. Scotty didn’t know who Charlie was at the time, and now Charlie wants a favor from him that will certainly harm Scotty’s friends.

    About The Author

    All at once a paralegal working with attorneys and law enforcement, a mortgage professional, a property manager who knows everyone’s secrets, and the owner of a horse ranch, writing has always been in Theresa Janson’s blood. She was born in St. Louis, Missouri and uprooted to Colorado in 1996, and has been an avid reader most of her life. She was always drawn to mystery/thriller books so she could test herself to see if she could solve the plot before the author concluded the final chapter. RESERVATIONS came to her night after night in the form of dreams.