A teenage love triangle is the catalyst for murder in this mystery set against the backdrop of the Adirondack wilderness.
Freed makes his stunning debut with a novel that is grand in scope but intimate in its execution. The story follows a trio of teenagers who meet in the tiny fictional community of Henoga Valley, deep within New York’s Adirondack Mountains. The two boys, John David and Jack, who have been friends since childhood, are both legendary local athletes. Their personalities, however, couldn’t be more different. John David is quiet and inclined to spend his free time hunting, hiking and exploring the vast wilderness. Jack, on the other hand, is gregarious and known equally for his intelligence and charm. Into their lives enters Emily, a precocious girl with few friends who captivates both boys. At the end of their senior year, Jack is found stabbed to death, and John David is identified as the chief suspect after he flees into the woods, setting in motion a course of events that will not be completely resolved for another 15 years. The setup may sound familiar, but Freed proves himself to be both a subtle observer of his characters and a deft manipulator of plot. In this compelling novel, readers will need to hang on until the last few pages to fully understand what has happened. But what really sets this debut apart is the way its rich setting entwines with the lives of its characters. Readers will feel like they’re walking through the dense, damp, impossibly lush Adirondack wilderness, as Freed joins a proud tradition of writers who have found an aspect of the American character reflected in the local landscape. Dialogue is occasionally a challenge for Freed, but the other elements are handled so carefully that readers likely won’t care if these teenage voices sometimes feel inauthentic.
A powerful, quintessentially American work from a debut writer whose skills extend far beyond his experience.