Sunday, July 8, 2018
Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin
Rice Moore has found the perfect job for someone in his situation. He is the caretaker on a remote setting in the Appalachian mountains; land owned by a Foundation that wants to preserve the pristine forest as it has always been. Rice has a biology background and in addition to building a cabin, he spends his days making observations on the land, cataloging the plants and animals he encounters. It's a far cry from the Mexican prison he spent time in after having drugs planted in his backpack. That experience left him with scars and some dangerous enemies that would love to put an end to him.
But things are never perfect. Rice discovers that poachers are killing the preserve's black bears. The paws and gallbladders are valuable commodities on the black market. He decides that he will take on the task of stopping the poachers. In the process he bumps up against local inhabitants who don't trust him as an outsider, a motorcycle gang and DEA agents that still believe he is a criminal. He also meets the woman who had the job before him and hopes that perhaps a relationship might start there. But danger surrounds him everywhere as his Mexican enemies get word of where he is adding to his local enemies. Can Rice rebuild his life in the midst of chaos?
This is a debut novel for McLaughlin. He grew up himself in the land he writes so beautifully about and holds both a law and MFA degree from the University of Virginia. His characters are drawn well and the plotting is tight but above all, his love for the land and animals shines clear. This book is being recommended as one of the best thrillers of the summer and it seems clear that McLaughlin has made an impressive start on his career. This book is recommended for thriller readers.