This compelling novel follows three damaged people as they face their inner demons and end up connecting with each other.
Gudrun, a defense lawyer in Mississippi, finds herself haunted by her desire to see her client, a violent murderer, suffer for his crime. After encountering the man in her imagination and dreams, she decides to make a trek on the Appalachian Trail to find peace.
While there, she meets Eamon, a Vietnam War veteran trying to make peace with his past. Having just reunited with several of his old war buddies, he has formed a plan to give one of them the justice he feels is deserved: Jimmy, a machine gunner during the war, lost custody of his child after landing in jail for defending his family and has never gotten over the trauma. With Eamon’s guidance, he now has a way to exact vengeance for his loss and end the pain of his life. These plans change, however, when Gudrun and Eamon fall in love, and their attempts to alter Jimmy’s course leads to a violently climactic end.
A highly engaging plot, well-drawn, articulate main characters, a literary, yet accessible style, and plenty of action all conspire to make readers turn the page. That Eamon and Jimmy are still sympathetic despite their violent actions at the end is a testament to author Chet Nicholson’s talent.
There is one quibble, however: The novel makes judges and police officers rather unsubtle villains who come across as corrupt and brutish; this may turn off some readers. (Readers should also be warned that cursing abounds in the story, with words like “motherf——” making frequent appearances.)
Nonetheless, this is a captivating read overall. Readers will find themselves absorbed as the author skillfully reveals the tragedy of men unable to escape their pasts, despite the powerful attempt of family and lovers to help them.
Also available as an ebook.