The Dog Hermit

David Stout, Author Mysterious Press $18.95 (311p) ISBN 978-0-89296-503-8
Stout, the author of Night of the Ice Storm and the Edgar-winning Carolina Skeletons , here completes a hat trick of crack crime fiction. As in Storm , the cold wastes of upstate New York serve as a remote, socio-economic wasteland, where newspaper editor Will Schafer hunts for a missing boy and the key to an old friend's suspicious death. Reporter Fran Spicer is covering the abduction of five-year-old Jamie Brokaw when his car crashes on a snowy road; his death is attributed to alcohol. Meanwhile two ransom demands are delivered to Jamie's wealthy, divorced parents, and the cops and the FBI converge on fictional Hill County. Despite the ransom payments, the boy isn't returned. Deep in the forest, a physically and emotionally scarred hermit who lives with his dog hears a child's voice in the darkness and is drawn from his private torment into the middle of the crime, with startling results. Stout's forte is gentle understatement and the ability to merge site and characters in seamless scenes of quiet terror. The entranced reader watches as Will, intent on vindicating Fran, finds new purpose as a newspaper man and falls for a local woman, all the while remaining isolated, an alien in an unfriendly town. The canny, breathless ending, which may be too neat in smoothing every last nihilistic edge, nevertheless elicits the reader's deep sign of relief. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/31/1993
Release date: 06/01/1993
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