Michael Koryta’s newest novel, his tenth, is perhaps his best yet, high praise indeed.
About the title: The reference is to two killers who are hunting (literally and figuratively) 13-year-old Jace Wilson, witness to a horrifying murder, who must not be allowed to live, according to the code of these purely evil men. When Jace’s parents refuse to place him into the standard Witness Protection program, they do agree to allow him to leave Indiana and spend the summer in Montana and Wyoming in the care of Ethan Serbin, who runs a summer wilderness survival camp, heading a search-and-rescue team in the mountains the rest of the year and “. . . .working with probation and parole officers from around the country, taking in kids who were facing the threat of lock-up somewhere.” Jace, considered at high risk, needs to be taken completely off the grid, his real identity hidden even from Ethan, who takes on the task of ensuring his safety, knowing only that Jace is one of the seven youngsters entrusted to him care, but the only one that is there to hide.
The characters created by Mr. Koryta are all memorable in their own way, none more than Ethan. Among the women, Ethan’s wife, Allison; Jamie Bennett, former US Marshal, who had taken the survival course with Ethan a year ago; Hannah Faber, 28 years old, in charge of the fire tower cab in the mountains and has her own ghosts which still haunt her after a fatal wildfire a year ago. And Allison’s horse, Tango, also recovering from his own wounds, and who will be sorely tested before the tale ends. The weather in those mountains is famously unpredictable, e.g., a blizzard hits on the last day of May, as the story opens. And as the heat of the summer begins to build, the threat of wildfires is never far from anyone’s thoughts.
As the suspense mounts, the beauty, and the danger, in the mountains is made palpable, and the writing is gorgeous. A sudden plot twist near the end of the book is jaw-dropping, and I almost simultaneously wanted to close the book for a moment, and keep the pages turning in a race to the end. I loved this book, and it is highly recommended....Continua