Hiding a teenage murder witness among a bunch of delinquent kids in a survival-training program in Montana seemed like a good idea. But when two coldblooded killers track him there from Indiana, everyone's life is at grave risk.
The program is run by Air Force veteran Ethan Serbin, who lives with his wife, Allison, in a mountain cabin. She distrusts Jamie Bennett, a federal marshal and former trainee of Ethan's who shows up in the middle of the night, having recklessly driven into a blizzard, to plead for their help. Jamie says the boy, Jace Wilson, is too hot for even a witness protection program. When Jace arrives, it's anonymously, under the name Connor Reynolds. He's badly lacking in confidence but proves adept in handling himself outdoors. Just as he's settling in, though, the killers—two brothers with a creepy way of conversing with each other even as they're about to commit an atrocity—infiltrate the mountain community. Knowing what they're capable of, Jace/Connor drifts away from the pack, teams up with a female fire ranger who feels responsible for her boyfriend's accidental death and fervently hopes an escape route he devised as part of his training will lead them to safety. Having joined the ranks of the very best thriller writers with his small-town masterpiece, The Prophet (2012), Koryta matches that effort with a book of sometimes-unbearable tension. With the exception of one plot turn you'll likely see coming from a mountain pass away, this novel is brilliantly orchestrated. Also crucial to its success is Koryta's mastery of the beautiful but threatening setting, including a mountain fire's ability to electrify the ground, radiate a lethal force field—and create otherworldly light shows.
Summer reading doesn't get better than this.