October 8th – Descent

This week’s selection is Descent, by Tim Johnston and let me just put this out there: it’s agony. I’m talking pain and suffering. In heaping doses. I put it down a number of times, proclaiming to any who would listen that I was done, couldn’t take another page. But then there I was, standing in the hallway, in the kitchen, outside in front of the mailbox, clutching this novel, not breathing.

The book jacket calls Descent a ‘literary thriller’. Yes. I had to look that up too because it seems to imply a great story and great writing cannot co-exist and that feels like creative snobbery to me. Johnston’s book is ripped from the headlines but he has the heart of a poet and writes as such. We should be grateful, even if we kind of hate him for it.

Angela and Grant Courtland take their eighteen year old daughter Caitlin and fifteen year old son Sean from Wisconsin to Colorado for vacation. Caitlin is a college bound track star and desperate to test her strength against the mountain trails and the altitude. Sean begrudgingly accompanies her, on a mountain bike so he can keep up, into the Rocky Mountain wilds. When Sean is struck by a car on a remote mountain road, Caitlin drives away with the man to get help and is abducted.

What follows is the dreadful unraveling of a family as they search for their lost child and sibling. We see these stories in the news but Johnston takes you close, right down the rabbit hole, pinning you to the floor. He forces you to keep your eyes open, even as you murmur to yourself ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’

I recommend this book but won’t take the blame.

On another note, I’ll be at the Great Valley Book Festival this weekend talking about creative inspiration. Join me if you can!

Have a great weekend!



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