Second in Evan’s new series (The Walk, 2010, etc.) about an adman seeking redemption while going through several pairs of Nikes.
Alan Christoffersen, the author’s peripatetic ad exec, who is mourning his late wife McKale as well as the loss of his burgeoning career in Seattle, has vowed to walk all the way to Key West. At the end of the first book, our hero suffered a near-fatal assault. The present installment finds him hospitalized in Spokane after surgery for severe abdominal stab wounds. His sole visitor is a woman named Angel, whose flat tire he fixed shortly before the attack. When he is discharged, Angel offers him a room in her apartment, which he accepts, realizing that physical and seasonal obstacles will stymie his wanderlust until spring. Soon he learns that Angel, a 911 dispatcher, is hiding something. Her elderly landlord Bill keeps turning up when she’s not home, asking for “Nicole.” Nicole has cancelled her cable and given Bill notice she’s leaving the apartment. When Angel (admitting she’s Nicole) confesses that due to tragedies in her life she’s vowed to commit suicide after watching all 100 movies on the AFI’s “world’s greatest” list, Alan is able to share his secrets for self-healing. Soon the platonic pair have created an impromptu family, including Bill, a recent widower, that gathers for lovingly described holiday meals. But this idyll ends, as Alan must move on. Nicole will be fine thanks to Bill’s bequest of $3.6 million. (Overwhelmed by her kindness, he altered his will shortly before his death on New Year’s Eve.) Alan hits the road again, rescuing a runaway and calling attention to the problem of abused and neglected children aging out of foster care. In South Dakota, near mountain monuments to U.S. presidents and Chief Crazy Horse, the plot is once again left dangling from a precipice.This leg of the Walk series is brisker and, thankfully, less didactic than the last.