Continuing a trek across Canada that seems unwittingly aimed at unearthing traumas to rival the nightmare she experienced when Boko Haram struck in Nigeria, returning aid worker Amanda Doucette (Fire in the Stars, 2016) takes a dozen Montreal teenagers on a camping trip into deep troubles.
Persuaded first by her journalist friend Matthew Goderich to lead the Laurentian Extreme Adventure and then by divorced local artist Ghyslaine Prevost to include her son Luc among the campers despite his prison time for dealing drugs, Amanda has an eye out for trouble from the beginning. But she doesn’t expect the forms it takes: first the reluctance of husband-and-wife guides Sebastien and Sylvie Laroque to join Zidane, a youth counselor who doesn’t want to work with a female guide, even after he relents; then Zidane’s determination to dilute the cross-cultural bonding Amanda’s aiming for by segregating the campers into Arabs and non-Arabs; and finally Luc’s sudden disappearance when he takes off one night, apparently to meet someone else. When Yasmina, an Iraqi camper who was friendly with Luc, also vanishes, the scene seems set for a snowy remake of And Then There Were None. But Fradkin has other fish to fry. She leaves the campers behind to follow the inquiries of Cpl. Chris Tymko, an Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer sweet on Amanda, who keeps calling different police forces for information and assistance until, inevitably, he calls a colleague who finds his own interest in the case dangerous. Both Luc and Yasmina, it seems, have been in touch with an Islamic State group recruiter calling himself Abu Osama, and there’s every indication that at least one of them is involved in a terrorist plot whose clock is ticking relentlessly down.
Fradkin downplays sleuthing and suspense in favor of counterterrorism twists; when the violence begins, there’s less interest in who killed whom than in whether the heroine and her friends can foil a diabolical bombing plot.