‘Bearskin’ is a thriller like no other

Sometimes, you just need to get away.

Out of your element, far from the usual. A change of scenery is called-for, a temporary life unlike the one you usually live. Or, as in the new book “Bearskin” by James A. McLaughlin, you need new digs that could save your life.

Renovating the old cabin was a big job, but Rice Moore had willingly signed on for it. Despite bees, despite high Virginia temperatures and humidity, despite that he had other tasks to do as caretaker for an Appalachian forest preserve, working on the cabin was a relative pleasure.

It sure beat risking his life.

On the run from a Mexican drug cartel that hadn’t managed to kill him while he was in jail on set-up charges, Moore hoped that anonymity in Virginia would keep him safe. Then again, it hadn’t helped Apryl, a researcher and his partner, who’d been deeply involved in smuggling unmarked packages and who trusted too much. She’d kept her head down, but someone killed her near the Arizona border.

Moore had to admit, Virginia was a nice place to hide. The cabin was at the end of a long private driveway. Surveying the forest was enjoyable, and the job took advantage of Moore ’s skills and knowledge. The locals were stand-offish and a few rednecks rankled him, but it wasn’t anything he couldn’t handle.

And then he started finding the carcasses.

A local mushroomer showed him the first dead bears, paws removed and guts spilled. Later, Moore found other dead animals, and he found tree-stands, and bait. Someone was killing bears for their black-marketed body parts, and they were doing it in pristine forest that was supposed to be off-limits to humans.

But as his obsession with finding the bear-killers grew, Moore crossed the wrong people. One of them, a small-town lawman, did what nobody else had done: research, and he knew who Moore was and why he was in Virginia .

And that lawman had a big mouth…

“Bearskin” is a little – no, wait, it’s a lot different than your normal thriller.

What makes it so is a quite-lengthy passage in which author James A. McLaughlin’s main character trusts a shady source in an uncharacteristic manner and descends into a hazy dream-state obsession that lasts for pages and pages. It seems to tell readers more about Moore and it serves as a bridge to an important part of the story, but it’s weird. Really weird.

And yet – the things you find in a normal thriller are all here, times two, which makes the weirdness mostly forgivable. Crime, torture, murder, stalking, a heart-pounding chase, it’s all here, mixed in with acres and acres of thick forest that serve, metaphorically, to give readers a safe place to go when this thriller gets too thrilling.

And, happily, that’s often, as you’ll see in this book. Your heart will race, your mouth will go dry and if you’re a bedtime reader, “Bearskin” may keep you awake for hours. Beware: you may never want to put this book away.

More in Life

Auburn Symphony Orchestra Chamber Series comes to Kent, Auburn

Musicians to perform works by Beethoven, Britten and Loeffler

You’ll want to read ‘Dracul’ with the lights on

It was just a little scratch. You wouldn’t have even noticed it,… Continue reading

This book will help you talk about death with loved ones

There’s plenty of food for all. You can see that, and it… Continue reading

Kent-area community calendar | Oct. 18

Events Recycling Collection: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 20, Hogan Park, 24400 Russell… Continue reading

Trava Mayes, left, plays Mirabelle, and Anne Cameron is Bernice in Pamela Loyd’s “Lunch Ladies at L’ambrosia Luncheria,” on stage at the Kent Senior Activity Center this month. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter
Knot Quite Write Players present fall lineup

The Knot Quite Write Players (KQWP), the Kent Senior Activity Center’s Readers… Continue reading

‘November Road’ is the nail-biter you’ve been looking for

Catch me, if you can! And the chase began, one of you… Continue reading

‘A Healing Justice’ should be on your bookshelf

Your pup is a pretty respectable watch dog. If anyone merely considers… Continue reading

Look. Listen. Learn.

Puget Sound Fire celebrates Fire Prevention Week by holding a contest and creating two new forms of non-emergency contacts.

Mira Slovak driving the original Miss Wahoo unlimited hydroplane in 1957. COURTESY, Museum of Flight
Legendary pilot and hydroplane champ profiled in Oct. 13 lecture and book signing

‘A Race to Freedom: The Mira Slovak Story,’ plus Slovak hydroplane and stunt plane on view

Ryan Gosling plays astronaut Neil Armstrong in the film, “First Man.” COURTESY PHOTO
Museum of Flight hosts exclusive display of costumes and props from the new feature film

The Museum of Flight presents a special collection of costumes and properties… Continue reading

Country stars to perform Dec. 6 in Kent at Hometown Holiday concert

Combs, Morris, Ballerini, Brothers Osborne, Davis and Tenpenny

Auburn Symphony Orchestra presents fall concert, Pines of Rome

Oct. 14 program welcomes new music director, features renowned young violinist