Robert F. Jones, Editor . Lyons $22.95 (288p) ISBN 1-58574-406-9

The nature-loving novelist's 12th book is a disjointed tale of fishing adventure and innocence lost. Opening in the fall of 1950, the novel tracks best friends Harry Taggart and Ben Slater as they set out on their last fishing trip together before Ben ships out to Korea with the Marines and Harry goes premed. Both devoted outdoorsmen, the boys make a run down the Firesteel River to Gitche Gumee ("Big-Sea-Water") in Lake Superior, to hunt steelhead salmon, cannibal brown trout and muskellunge deep in Chippewa country. Following Jones's signature style (in novels like Blood Sport; Blood Root; Blood Tide), the boys get roped into an almost farcical adventure movie plot complete with bootleggers, squaws, rich flyboys and a soundtrack of Charlie Parker and Lester Young tunes, courtesy of Harry's saxophone. But the dangers they face pale in comparison to the carnage Ben witnesses in Korea. In the book's second half, where the narrative voice switches from Ben to Harry, a full 50 years have gone by. Brooding over the recent loss of his wife, Harry is diagnosed with prostate cancer. Desperate to feel sweetness for one last time in his life, he tracks down Ben, now a bitter alcoholic recluse, and the two set off to recreate their fishing trip of half a century before, this time armed with bladder-control pills and disdain for a world they no longer understand: "This is a consumer society, pal. And it's consuming us big time, guts and balls and brains, every fucking minute of the livelong day." The novel is more a series of snapshots than a cohesive story, but Jones provides lavish descriptions of the natural world and pays witness to man's ever-growing distance from it. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/22/2001
Release date: 11/01/2001
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