Cover image for Bearskin
Title:
Bearskin

Bear skin
Title:
Bearskin
Edition:
First edition.
Publisher Info:
New York, NY : Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2018]
Physical Description:
343 pages ; 24 cm
Abstract:
Rice Moore is just beginning to think his troubles are behind him. He's found a job protecting a remote forest preserve in Virginian Appalachia where his main responsibilities include tracking wildlife and refurbishing cabins. It's hard work, and totally solitary--perfect to hide away from the Mexican drug cartels he betrayed back in Arizona. But when Rice finds the carcass of a bear killed on the grounds, the quiet solitude he's so desperately sought is suddenly at risk. More bears are killed on the preserve and Rice's obsession with catching the poachers escalates, leading to............

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F MCLA New or Popular Adult Fiction Book
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FICTION MCLA New or Popular Adult Fiction Book
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Summary

Summary

"Bearskin is visceral, raw, and compelling--filled with sights, smells, and sounds truly observed. It's a powerful debut and an absolute showcase of exceptional prose. There are very few first novels when I feel compelled to circle brilliant passages, but James McLaughlin's writing had me doing just that." --C.J. Box, #1 NYT bestselling author of The Disappeared

Rice Moore is just beginning to think his troubles are behind him. He's found a job protecting a remote forest preserve in Virginian Appalachia where his main responsibilities include tracking wildlife and refurbishing cabins. It's hard work, and totally solitary--perfect to hide away from the Mexican drug cartels he betrayed back in Arizona. But when Rice finds the carcass of a bear killed on the grounds, the quiet solitude he's so desperately sought is suddenly at risk.

More bears are killed on the preserve and Rice's obsession with catching the poachers escalates, leading to hostile altercations with the locals and attention from both the law and Rice's employers. Partnering with his predecessor, a scientist who hopes to continue her research on the preserve, Rice puts into motion a plan that could expose the poachers but risks revealing his own whereabouts to the dangerous people he was running from in the first place.

James McLaughlin expertly brings the beauty and danger of Appalachia to life. The result is an elemental, slow burn of a novel--one that will haunt you long after you turn the final page.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

As taut as a crossbow and as sharp as an arrowhead, McLaughlin's debut unfolds in the Appalachian wilderness of Virginia, a landscape whose heart of darkness pulses viscerally through its characters. Rice Moore is working as a biologist caretaker at the vast Turk Mountain Preserve when he discovers that poachers are killing bears to sell their organs on overseas drug markets. Rice's efforts to curtail their activities antagonizes locals who raped the last caretaker and left her for dead, and-worse-it alerts agents of Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel, from which Rice has been fleeing for reasons revealed gradually, to his whereabouts. McLaughlin skillfully depicts Rice, revealing quirks and peculiarities of his personality that show how "his hold on what he'd always believed was right and what was wrong had grown fatigued, eventually warping to fit the contours of the world he inhabited"-a disconcerting revelation that helps establish the suspenseful feeling that anything can happen. Rice's story builds toward violent confrontations with the poachers, the cartel, and nature itself. The novel's denouement, a smoothly orchestrated confluence of the greater and lesser subplots, plays out against a tempest-tossed natural setting whose intrinsic beauty and roughness provide the perfect context for the story's volatile events. This is a thrilling, thoroughly satisfying debut. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

Native Virginian McLaughlin has set his debut novel in the state's rugged Appalachian forestland, which is as haunting and precarious as the story itself. Bears are being baited and killed on a private land preserve, and its caretaker, Rice Moore, becomes obsessed with catching the poachers, which leads him into serious conflict with the locals, who feel they are entitled to roam the property at will. Unfortunately, after both regional and federal law-enforcement agencies become involved, and Moore's former Arizona connections to a Mexican drug cartel are revealed, the caretaker finds himself in a dangerous position on multiple fronts. Moore's character is artfully revealed through flashbacks to what really went down in Arizona and through his interaction with biological researcher Sarah Birkeland. The landscape is rendered in remarkable prose that puts the reader right out on the trail with Moore in his ghillie suit, often lost in a Castaneda-like rapture that contrasts sharply with intermittent bursts of stunning brutality. C. J. Box and Paul Doiron fans will enjoy this edgy tale, with human greed and wildlife exploitation at its heart.--Murphy, Jane Copyright 2018 Booklist


Library Journal Review

DEBUT On the lam from a drug cartel after they killed his girlfriend, biologist Rice Moore has gone off the grid in Virginia, finding work as a caretaker at the secluded Turk Mountain Preserve. The forest is off-limits to hunters, and Moore's primary job is to monitor the vast acreage for disturbances. It's lonely and exhausting work but exactly what Moore needs, until he discovers a bear carcass left behind by poachers, who sell the gallbladders on the black market. His pursuit of the trespassers will shatter his solitude and resurrect the demons of a past life he's tried to bury. Other characters include Rice's predecessor, Sara Birkeland, who was forced off the preserve after a vicious attack, and a local biker gang that Rice suspects is involved in the poaching. But -McLaughlin's most memorable character is the dense ecosystem of the Appalachian forest, which is explored in vivid and often dreamlike prose. These lush, hallucinatory sequences sometimes stunt the momentum of the central mystery, but McLaughlin gets it back for a violent climax. VERDICT This versatile debut is hard to pin down, successfully straddling the line between the evocative erudition of Gabriel Tallent's My Absolute Darling, Tom -Franklin's Poachers, and page-turning suspense of C.J. Box. [See Prepub Alert, 12/11/17.]-Michael Pucci, South Orange P.L., NJ © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.