Backcountry: A Novel by James W. Clarke

Backcountry: A Novel

KIRKUS REVIEW

A serial killer stalks a national park in this thriller from Clarke (Defining Danger, 2012).

In late spring, a host of characters find themselves in the exquisite but fierce surroundings of Montana’s Glacier National Park. Keno, an often drunk Blackfoot, mourns the death of his troubled daughter; college-aged lovers Vicki and Matt plan an end-of-summer hike through remote portions of the park; and Gary, a skilled horseman and guide, leads a violent secret life—one that becomes more troubled as he plots his most sinister crime yet. As the lives of these and other characters collide, an even greater threat looms in the background; although the park is beautiful beyond words, it’s also host to the notoriously hostile grizzly bear. After one mauls a hiker, even locals accustomed to the risks are a little unnerved. If that weren’t enough, a woman is murdered, apparently by a serial killer. Who should the people fear more in this rugged landscape: man or beast? The answer comes in more than 300 pages of outdoor adventure and violence. The story tours the inner lives of both the murderer and his victims, and although the killer may seem too textbook at times (he comes from an abusive past, had bed-wetting problems as a child and leaves a signature mark on his victims), his thought processes tend to be believable. Occasional details feel tacked-on, such as the fact that two characters fought in Vietnam together, but on the whole, the plot maintains forward momentum without being dragged down by happenstance. It’s easy to predict when someone is likely to be killed, but finding out whom, and under what circumstances, lends the book an edge.

An engaging thriller that will give readers reasons to fear Glacier National Park, and the unsavory creatures its beauty may conceal.

Pub Date: March 13th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1480119505
Page count: 328pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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