Ecco, 9780062742797, 352pp.
Publication Date: June 12, 2018
July 2018 Indie Next List
— Bill Cusumano, Square Books, Oxford, MS
View the List
“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.
Praise For Bearskin: A Novel…
“Gruesomely gorgeous. . . . McLaughlin writes about the natural world with a casual lyricism and un-self-conscious joy. . . . Remarkable. . . . The kind of writing that makes me shiver.”
“Exciting. . . . McLaughlin skillfully breaks down the actions of hunter and hunted into their constituent parts. . . . Some of the best action writing in recent fiction.”
“A powerful and often profound debut. . . . Bearskin constructs a riveting narrative, set within a natural world that, should it vanish, McLaughlin suggests, might take part of us with it.”
“Fast-paced and evocative. . . . A genuine page-turner. . . . [Bearskin] emerges from some darker place, a creature of undeniable power.”
“Part thriller, part crime novel, part dreamscape, James A. McLaughlin’s Bearskin refuses to be contained. . . . Smart and sophisticated, with animals both wild and domestic acting as metaphors, [it] is a gritty, down-home tale told with brute force.”
“[A] near-perfect first novel. . . . [A] carefully crafted tale of mystery, ecology, backwoods mysticism and downright evil.”
“One of the year’s most buzzy, fascinating thrillers. . . . A suspenseful, emotionally resonant journey into one man’s dark past.”
“A journey into the wilds of Appalachia. . . . Tightly plotted and beautifully written, Bearskin marks an auspicious debut.”
“Taut as a crossbow and as sharp as an arrowhead. . . . Smoothly orchestrated. . . . A thrilling, thoroughly satisfying debut.”
“[A] hard-edged thriller. . . . An intense, visceral debut equal to the best that country noir has to offer.”
“[A] twisty, knuckle-gnawing thriller. . . . Remarkable. . . . Terrifying.”
“Haunting. . . . Rendered in remarkable prose. . . . [An] edgy tale, with human greed and wildlife exploitation at its heart.”
“Explored in vivid and often dreamlike prose. . . . Successfully [straddles] 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.”
“Bearskin—a gripping tale written in spare, beautiful prose—tells the tale of Rice Moore, a reluctant hero, competent, resilient, and utterly engaging. McLaughlin is a gifted storyteller, and Bearskin is a remarkable debut.”
“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.”
“A secret past, old foes, bloodthirsty locals, and the destruction of the natural world converge in McLaughlin’s debut novel. An intricately written thriller that explores the darkest parts of human nature against the beauty of unspoiled American wilds.”
“At once brutal and beautiful, Bearskin is a tense, haunting thriller brought to life by McLaughlin’s deft and vivid rendering of the rugged mountain landscape and the beasts that dwell within. A powerful debut.”