cover image Dangerous River

Dangerous River

Richard North Patterson, R. M. Paterson, R. M. Patterson. Chelsea Green Publishing Company, $12.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-930031-26-8

In 1927, British-born writer and adventurer Patterson braved the Nahanni, ``this strange river with the beautiful name,'' in rugged Northwest Canada, where he was prospecting for long-rumored gold, investigating the mysterious murders of an earlier party of prospectors and, above all, seeking excitement. He found no gold and didn't solve the mystery, but the journal of his yearlong battle with the dangerous river (and with temperatures that plummeted to 60 below zero) stands as a paragon of travel writing. Even readers who dislike getting their feet wet will be carried along by Patterson's dry wit, his neatly turned phrases (``Far above the river the topmost cliffs were lit with the wild, yellow light of the setting sun, but down by the water's edge there was only the puny flame of the evening fire'') and his very British devotion to tea, which he downs by the bucketful. The book includes black-and-white photos from the original edition, long out of print, that hint at the eerie, ferocious beauty of the land. (Apr.)