Incident at Big Sky: The Inside Story of the Search for Two Savage Killers in Montana
Edgar Award Finalist: The “exciting” true story of the abduction of biathlete Kari Swenson and the five-month manhunt to bring her tormentors to justice (The New York Times Book Review).
Former rodeo cowboy Johnny France had been sheriff of Madison County, Montana, for three years when Kari Swenson, a Bozeman resident training for the World Biathlon Championship, went missing near Big Sky Resort in July 1984. Her friends feared that Kari had been attacked by a grizzly bear, but the truth was far scarier: She’d been kidnapped at gunpoint by father-and-son survivalists Don and Dan Nichols. The pair had been living in the wilderness off and on for years and hoped to make Kari a “mountain woman” and Dan’s bride. But the plan went horribly wrong from the start, and after a deadly firefight with rescuers, the kidnappers vanished into the rugged terrain of the Spanish Peaks.
As Montana’s summer froze into brutal winter blizzards, SWAT teams, forest rangers, and antiterrorist units searched the backcountry but sighted the mountain men only once. Then came the call about a strange campfire on a slope above the Madison River. Sheriff France decided to go into the forest to face the fugitives—alone. The resulting showdown made him “perhaps the most famous Western sheriff since Wyatt Earp . . . a modern legend” (Chicago Tribune).
Incident at Big Sky is an “amazing . . . exciting retelling of a modern crime” that made headlines around the world (The New York Times Book Review). In a voice as distinctive and compelling as the Montana landscape, France takes readers on a high-stakes adventure so bizarre and unforgettable it could only be true.