Animals don’t have rights, and they don’t torture beings for fun. So why do we call people civilized?
Nile Nightingale is off the sauce, off the chemicals and eluding an APB that would send him to jail for DWI, assault and battery, and for kidnapping his daughter Brooklyn while his ex–gal pal tries to wrest his fortune from him. Actually, he only took Brook to the zoo, and she skedaddled home, but try convincing a vengeful mother that she’s wrong. Nile winds up in the hinterlands of Montreal at the abandoned Church of St. Davnet-des-Monts just as a lumpy parcel is tossed from a truck. The package turns out to cloak the knife-split form of 14-year-old Céleste Jonquères, whom Nile takes back to his rented cabin and sutures up. While she heals, the pair verbally spar over who they really are, what they’ve been doing and whether they can trust each other. Nile, who supports their isolated lifestyle by motoring to redneck stores, where he drops $20 bills for provisions, rifling his neighbor’s deserted home and helping himself to his forest ranger ID, gear and weaponry, soon wrests Céleste’s tale from her: She’s an orphan home-schooled by a grand-maman who trained her to defy Laurentian poachers and loathe the historical marauders who tortured black bears and caused the extinction of sea cows, great auks, Eskimo curlews and Eastern cougars. It’s moot whether the poachers killed grand-maman or whether Céleste helped the cancer-riddled woman to her exit, but whatever the reason, the anti-animal brigade is after Céleste and the man sheltering her, resulting in a skating-pond confrontation that will leave readers swiping at tears.
Nile and Céleste’s relationship—at times bantering, at times lovingly hectoring—will give enthralled readers the stamina to deal with the stomach-turning descriptions Moore (The Memory Artists, 2004, etc.) provides of past and present animal cruelty.