Yeazel spins a yarn of grizzly but puzzling murders in the Minnesota woods.
While night fishing with his friend Carl Jerome, Alvin Beane, the chief of police of tiny Burden, Minnesota, investigates a troubling noise: “a shriek that pierced the night high and hard above the trees…weird but undeniably human.” They come upon an abandoned camp and a man’s corpse torn asunder, perhaps by a bear, though the county coroner says he looks like the victim of an “agricultural accident.” They soon discover the man was one of a trio of bank robbers wanted by the FBI. When feds show up, their main concern is that most of the stolen money is still missing. The next night, a drifter camping by the railroad tracks suffers the same gruesome fate as the bank robber. Beane has his own demons to contend with: a newly sober alcoholic, the bottle continues to call to him every step of the way, and the situation isn’t helped by the presence of Carl’s wife, Helen, with whom Beane had a brief but charged affair. Most of all, Beane needs to figure out what is terrorizing his community. Whatever is stalking the woods outside of town seems to be much larger than a bear. Yeazel’s gripping page-turner blends police procedural with lurid campfire tale. His prose has a brutal yet beautiful utility, simultaneously folksy and profound: “He had seen disturbing looks on the faces of the dead before but never one like this. This one had an eerie quality of simultaneously encompassing the unfathomable and something completely known—as if a properly trained person could read in it the identity of the killer by mapping the contours of the suffering it contained.” Simple yet wonderfully engaging, this book will sink its claws into readers.
An immersive, old-fashioned backwoods thriller.