cover image Claw Heart Mountain

Claw Heart Mountain

David Oppegaard. CamCat, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7443-0750-4

Menaces both natural and supernatural turn a planned pleasure trip into a nightmare for the five college students at the center of this macabre thriller from Oppegaard (The Town Built on Sorrow). Nova and her friends Mackenna, Landon, Isaac, and Wyatt are en route to a weekend retreat at a vacation home in Wyoming’s Claw Heart Mountain when they stumble on an overturned transport truck on the highway, abandoned by its driver and containing millions of dollars in cash. Their impulsive decision to take the money puts them in the crosshairs of Bannock, a killer hired by the vaguely defined “Organization” to retrieve the loot. The quintet’s troubles are complicated further by the emergence of “the Wraith,” a legendary mountain monster with an insatiable appetite for human flesh who threatens both the hunted and the hunter. Though the dovetailing of the two pursuits is overkill in spots, Oppegaard milks the caroming confrontations with both monster and assassin for maximum suspense. A few loose threads at the end don’t diminish his tale’s visceral power. Anyone looking for gripping natural horror should check this out. Agent: Dawn Frederick, Red Sofa Literary. (Feb.)