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A buddy quest on motorcycles in Maynard’s (The Pale Light of Sunset, 2012, etc.) tough-as-nails voice.

A writer of an undetermined older age, Morgan drinks through his angst-ridden days and nights in an old adobe home on a 50-acre ranch in southern New Mexico. His friends—Slade, his Army buddy, and Arturo, a mystical Apache Indian—worry about him, for good reason. When he decides to cleanse his soul by riding a motorcycle to the Arctic Circle, he makes a stop at an office on his way north and proceeds to beat the daylights out of the man who moved in with his ex. He picks up Slade in Colorado Springs, and they're off on a bike trip that takes them on the back roads of Wyoming, Montana, Canada and Alaska. In spite of some tense moments on the road and flashbacks to a time when Slade saved him from “unfriendlies” in the jungle during what is probably the Vietnam War, Maynard seems to be stretching the story with filler—bad weather, soulful sniffling, the same rain and dreariness over and over. It's unfortunate because Maynard can write extremely well and tell a hard-boiled tale. The two do reach their promised land of the Arctic Circle, and on the way home, there's a stunning turnabout. Morgan is an insufferable guy but a memorable character in the modern Wild West.

Maynard knows the outdoors and the thrill of an honest-to-goodness road trip, but he dilutes the story with repetitious angst. Too bad he didn't just get on with it.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-940425-48-1
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Vandalia Press/West Virginia Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2015


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