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.
“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
About the Author
James A. McLaughlin is a native of Virginia who lives in the Wasatch Range east of Salt Lake City, Utah. He holds law and MFA degrees from the University of Virginia. His essays and fiction have appeared in River Teeth, Camas, Portland Review, Clackamas Literary Review, and elsewhere. His essay “¡No Pasaran! Rage and ORVs” was chosen as a Notable Essay of 2003 in The Best American Essays, 2004. His novella “Bearskin” appeared Summer 2008 in The Missouri Review and won the 2009 William Peden Prize in fiction. He’s currently working on two novels related to Bearskin and set in Virginia and the American Southwest. Photographic interests include wildlife, landscape, and human ecology, and his photographs have appeared in numerous publications including Virginia Wildlife, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and The Missouri Review.
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WINNER OF THE 2019 EDGAR FOR BEST FIRST NOVEL