Jack and Wynn are two college friends attending Dartmouth who bonded in their freshman year over their love of fishing and all things nature. Jack’s from Colorado and Wynn is from Vermont, both from families with different lifestyles. They decide to take off the summer and the fall semester to canoe the Maskwa River in Colorado. While on the river, they smell smoke and realize a fire is encroaching, maybe only a few days away. However, they also come upon an isolated site where they hear a couple arguing. They continue their travel but then worry that they should have stopped to warn those people that more trouble was coming their way.
If ever there was a story where the setting is just as critical as the characters, this one is a magnificent example. The beginning may seem slow because of the meticulous care taken with defining Jack and Wynn, their relationship and skill at outdoor adventure. I chose to just experience what the story was giving me rather than anticipate what might or might not be coming. I could smell the pines, hear the changes in the lakes and river, taste the blueberries and feel the friendship between these two young men. When the story shifted to things more ominous and potentially dangerous, I could also feel the wrongness of that shift, the disturbance of that communing with nature.
This was a gorgeously written story that integrated mystery and suspense without detracting from the beauty that was established early on. I also appreciated how all that beauty could turn treacherous if you don’t respect what it signals to you. I won’t go into the suspense elements as I not only can’t do it justice but readers need to experience that firsthand. The narrator delivered a fine performance, letting the prose take center stage without dramatic embellishments. I’ll be haunted by this one forever.
- Release Date: March 5, 2019
- Narrator: Mark Deakins
- Audio Length: 7 hours, 20 minutes
- Publisher: Random House Audio