‘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.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@courierherald.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.courierherald.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.

More in Life

Relay for Life of South King County moves online

American Cancer Society donations to be taken during May 30 virtual gathering

Auburn Symphony Orchestra announces 2020-21 season

Begins with Summer Series scheduled to start June 21

Medic One Foundation’s Gratitude Meals offer support to first responders, local businesses

The initiative provides hearty lunches to first responders staffing the COVID-19 testing sites as they work to test their colleagues.

‘Don’t assume it can’t happen to you’

Federal Way resident Evelyn Allcorn shares story of her husband’s battle with COVID-19 after he tested positive on March 28.

Auburn dance studio finds creative solutions to keep going during COVID-19

Pacific Ballroom Dance moves to online classes; group returned home early from national competition

Local Sasquatch event to be live-streamed

Due to the coronavirus, the convention has to be put online — but that means more people can participate in the live-stream presentations.

At a glance | March 2020 events

Reading with a Daffodil Princess, a St. Patty’s 5K, an aebleskiver breakfast, and more.

Empty Bowls again raising money to feed the hungry

The annual event is this Friday, Feb. 28, at Enumclaw High.

What happens if the novel coronavirus spreads here? | Public Health Insider

Even though a severe outbreak may not happen, it’s smart to start preparing now.

Aging Mastery Program returns to Enumclaw | Enumclaw Senior Center

The free program has limited space, so reserve your seat soon.

Talks continue about local affordable housing

The next meeting is scheduled for March 18.

Six things you don’t (but should) know about STIs | Public Health Insider

STIs are becoming more prevalent, so make sure you brush up on what you think you know.