By Chuck Logan
HarperCollins Publishers, Hardcover, 9780060570200, 360pp.
Publication Date: July 1, 2005
It never occurred to Phil Broker and Nina Pryce -- still recoveringfrom their life-and-death struggle with a demented terrorist -- that a minor school-yard tussle could lead to this.
In the winter backlands of Glacier Falls, Minnesota, nobody knows a thing about the crucial roles Broker and Nina played months earlier in averting an act of terrorism. Nor does anyone know about the damage -- both physical and psychological -- that Nina, especially, suffered as a consequence. This is why they'd moved here in the first place: for anonymity, calm, and therestorative powers of a remote landscape. Also for the chance, maybe, to become a family again. Broker tells himself that if they just keep a low profile, stay out of trouble, and tend to their wounds, everything will work out fine.
But it doesn't take much to set off an avalanche, and one is triggered for them when a school-yard bully picks a fight with the wrong third-grade girl: Phil and Nina's daughter, Kit. She humiliates Teddy Klumpe, and so too Klumpe's parents, by giving him a bloody nose -- and thereby puts the Broker household in the crosshairs of a vengeful local clan notorious for violenceand criminal behavior.
Suddenly little things start happening -- a flat tire, footprints in the snow, garbage spilled across the driveway. Did Broker leave the door unlocked? Or was somebody in the house when he and Kit were out cross-country skiing?
Broker copes as best as he can -- monitoring Nina's mood swings, running interference for Kit at school, and keeping a wary eye out for whoever's engaging in the small-time guerrilla warfare, which grows increasingly malevolent. When his daughter's kitten disappears, though, he begins to fear for his family's safety. But Glacier Falls' tiny police force is already stretched too thin, battling the scourge of methamphetaminethat has extended even to this rural outpost.
That's when the ghosts of Broker's past begin reappearing -- question is, to haunt or to help? The good news is that Harry Griffin, whom Broker served with in Vietnam thirty years earlier, advises him on how to deal with the locals -- and so an old friendship is reaffirmed.
But the bad news is really, really bad. An ex-con named Gator Bodine (another Klumpe relative) discovers Broker's role, long ago, in an undercover drug sting that resulted in the death of a mobster's son. Seeking advantage in his own criminal endeavors, he gives Broker up to the mobster, who dispatches a hit man to confirm that Gator's info is accurate -- and, if it is, toexact vengeance on Broker and his family.