Death of a Cloudwalker

E. S. Russell, Author Walker & Company $18.95 (182p) ISBN 978-0-8027-5784-5
At age 18, Toby Frame mangles his leg in a catastrophic fall while hiking along the Appalachian Trail. A mountain man finds him but accuses him of being one of the ``outsiders'' ruining the Smokies--and abandons Toby to his fate. And a dark and brooding fate it turns out to be. Eventually Toby is rescued, but he loses his leg to gangrene; his hospitalized father has died from the stress of his son's disappearance. Vowing to meet the mountain man again, Toby forgoes personal relationships, withdraws to a world of academe and becomes a renowned Harvard psychologist. After Toby accepts a visiting professorship at a small New England college, circumstances land him once more in a hospital, where he hears the voice of the mountain man. Here Russell ( Nice Enough to Murder ) runs into trouble: the plot hopscotches confusingly between flashbacks to Appalachia and events in Toby's present life, and the most interesting characters are developed only to fade inexplicably from the narrative. The mountain man offers a brilliant study in madness but Toby's behavior in the face of this insanity is sheer stupidity. Though Russell's prose is accomplished, he fails to give the story adequate cohesion. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1991
Release date: 06/01/1991
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