A fast-paced, melodramatic debut suspense novel about unfaithful hunters and scorned lovers.
It’s hunting season in the Northwoods territories of Wisconsin, and Paul Kruk, a fatherless ex-Army soldier, together with his longtime pals from high school, creeps through the snowy, forested wilderness in search of a prize buck. The men drink, play poker and discuss women together. Then the drama unfolds: Paul, armed with his father’s Winchester rifle, with binoculars at the ready, hides in waiting—not for a coveted deer, but for a man named Craig Bunder. Craig, a cocky 20-something, had an affair with Paul’s sister Kristen while she was engaged to be married. (Her fiance, Adam, the twin brother of Craig’s friend Drew, subsequently drowns in a kayaking accident.) Kristen has had many affairs, but this dalliance has deadly consequences after Paul shoots Craig in revenge. Or does he? As detectives dig deep into the murder, more and more sordid details come to light—some involving Craig’s fellow hunters, such as Brien, a psychologist, and Tom, who both had illicit affairs with Kristen as well. Paul is soon tormented by guilt and paranoia as the manipulative Kristen gradually unravels. Bolger delivers the initial setup of the story in short, clipped sentences laced with dark, foreboding undertones, while the final sections, following many revelations, are frothy and seething with scandal. The narrative is effectively suspenseful throughout, although the storyline can be overly turbulent at times; its frequent, jarring flashbacks occasionally stifle the impact of the author’s carefully laid plot revelations.
An occasionally uneven but ambitious and entertaining thriller.