Wild things haunt the Northern Cascades’ evergreen slopes and valleys in Waite’s (The Carrion Birds, 2013, etc.) third novel. Those most feral walk on two legs.
In the symbolic opening, Deputy Bobby Drake calls in a sighting: a deer is fence-stranded, with a lone wolf, out of place in the Cascades, scavenging its carcass. Bobby’s heading for the state prison to meet his father upon his release. Former Silver Lake sheriff Patrick Drake made bad choices after "he’d sat in the Seattle hospital listening to machines pump life in and out of his wife." Patrick needed money. He found it trafficking drugs. Waite’s early pages have a bit of repetition—it’s repeated that Bobby owes his job to Gary, Patrick’s former deputy who’s now sheriff. That stumble behind, Waite’s tale turns bloody, dark and mean. Driscoll, an obsessed DEA agent, remains certain Patrick secreted thousands of dollars before his arrest. In this Inspector Javert–Jean Valjean narrative thread, Driscoll is sure Patrick killed two drug dealers to get the money. Family neglected, bosses ignored, Driscoll’s a character totally realistic in his obsession. Another powerful character is Morgan Drake, Bobby’s hermit grandfather, loyalty honed down sharp, an emblem of all that’s right and true about the West’s rugged individualist paradigm. The wolf’s counterparts are Bean and John Wesley, Patrick’s former prison mates. The pair protected vulnerable Patrick in prison. Now they’ve killed a guard, escaped, and are marauding murderously in pursuit of Patrick—and the secreted cash—expecting to lure him by kidnapping Bobby and his wife. With a gift for descriptive language, Waite shows superb familiarity with Washington’s dualities—the lush, green western slope and the great, flat wind-swept east, every inch of wild nature a metaphor reinforcing his theme.
A tale of greed and violence and loyalty and of fathers and sons who communicate in silences, "fearful of what response might come, of what truths might be revealed."