Up in northern Minnesota there are small lakes no one visits. When a half-breed French Indian canoe guide, Frank Desper, gets sucked into a bar fight and fatally knifes Sheriff Rantanen's son, he lights out for the lakes to hide. For three months, Desper does little more, as a character, than display considerable skills as woodsman, hunter, trapper, and even harvester of wild rice. Rantanen hunts him from the air and by boat, but only a foolish move on Desper's part--when he steals some coffee and sugar from some greenhorn campers--at last gives the sheriff the clue he needs. He finds Desper's hideaway well enough, but the wild creature who lives there, now half man/half bear, dancing in firelight, is too far gone to inspire revenge. For the backpacking, canoe and portage crowd, Indian lovers, outdoorsmen, and those interested in learning how to skin porkies, beavers, deer, and bear.