Peter Heller, best-selling author of THE RIVER is back with a gripping eco-action adventure, THE GUIDE, featuring protagonist Jack from his previous novel. Jack comes to Kingfisher Lodge as a fishing guide to recover from a recent loss. The lodge is nestled in a canyon on a pristine river and serves an elite clientele. Jack is assigned to guide Alison, a famous singer who knows how to cast a line. But soon after his arrival, he realizes that there is more going on at the lodge than fishing.
Heller’s lyrical prose reveals an author who knows how to fish, keeping the storyline taut at times, and letting it run as the action plays out and the secret of Kingfisher Lodge is revealed.
This passage illustrates the author’s appreciation for the natural world and the symbolism and symmetry imbued throughout the novel:
“. . . the fish caught her second wind, if she’d ever lost the first. Jack had begun to think of her as female, because to fight this hard she must have been full of roe and protecting her eggs. The riffle was not long and the trout lunged up it and swam into the quiet pool at the top, right at the edge of the meadow. Then, with must have been the last shreds of her strength she fought the pull and went deep and stopped . . . Few humans had this much heart. Jack could not have measured his admiration. He loved the fish right then as much as anything in the world.”
The natural beauty depicted in THE GUIDE is a sharp contrast to the depravity of the characters who run the Lodge. The time period is post pandemic, although new strains continue to emerge. And while the lodge doesn’t restrict Jack and Alison from going into town, they keep a close eye on them when they venture out. More troubling are the signs that warn guests and guides to keep off of the property next door, where Jack finds a boot buried in the brush.
Heller has a heart for his two main characters – Jack is a complex character who finds solace in the woods and the water. Alison, in spite of her fame, is fierce and funny and not afraid to get her hands dirty – whether catching fish or criminals. The pacing ratchets up the last third of the book, as Jack and Alison discover the mystery of the property adjacent to the lodge.
I would describe THE GUIDE as a mash up of A River Runs Through It and Deliverance. If you love trout fishing, heart-stopping action, engaging characters, and mystery, THE GUIDE is the book for you.
This is Lin Salisbury with Superior Reviews. Listen to my interview with Peter Heller on August 26 at 7:00 pm and August 28 at 6:00 am on WTIP, 90.7 Grand Marais, and on the web and wtip.org.