IN THE FOREST OF HARM by Sallie Bissell


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An Atlanta prosecutor, revisiting the area where her Cherokee mother was slain 12 years earlier, steps off the edge of the civilized universe into a world of trouble.

After turning her sixth indictment into her sixth conviction, rookie A.D.A. Mary Crow is ready to celebrate. And it’s time as well that she faced the ghosts back in Little Jump Off, North Carolina, by making a pilgrimage to her mother’s grave and the convenience store where she was robbed, raped, and murdered. Accompanied by her lawyer friends Alexandra McCrimmin and Joan Marchetti, she plans a weekend of physically strenuous but spiritually tonic camping in Nantahala National Forest. But the women aren’t alone in the forest primeval. Mitchell Whitman, brother of the latest convict Mary helped put away, has armed himself to the teeth and decided to do some camping too. And that’s not all. To while away the hours before Mitch can overtake the trio, debut novelist Bissell supplies a crackpot trapper whose mastery of woodlore, coupled with his delusive certainty that Alex is really Trudy, the dead sister who haunts him even more insistently than Mary’s mother haunts her, makes him every bit as dangerous as that city slicker Mitch. After a conscientious, laborious start, Bissell tightens the screws slowly and expertly, providing some spectacular, often threatening, mountain scenery along the way. Credibility and suspense are both strained, though, by the multiplication of villains who have to wait in line for a crack at their potential victims, especially when most of the victims don’t even know the predators exist, and the predators don’t know about each other either. And a nagging loose end at the fadeout will leave plenty of readers piqued.

Nonetheless: a shrewdly judged female actioner, tailor-made for audiences who would’ve loved Deliverance if it hadn’t been for all the guy stuff.

Pub Date: Jan. 2nd, 2001
ISBN: 0-553-80128-7
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2000


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