Feature

Novel of the week: The Signal by Ron Carlson

Ron Carlson's taut mountain adventure begins as a wised-up love story, but &ldquo;accelerates like an avalanche&rdquo; toward a white-knuckle conclusion, said Ron Charles in<em> The</em> <em>Washington Post.</em>

(Viking, $25.95)

“If men can’t be brought back to fiction” by a novel as fine as Ron Carlson’s latest, “it’s their own damn fault,” said Ron Charles in The Washington Post. Carlson “writes like Hemingway without the misogyny and self-parody,” and he’s now applied his spare, well-toned prose to a taut mountain adventure that begins as wised-up love story but “accelerates like an avalanche” toward a white-knuckle conclusion. An estranged couple, Wyoming-reared Mack and his Yankee ex-wife, Vonnie, have set off into the Wind River Range on a camping trip that continues an annual tradition they had started in far better times. Even as Mack aches for reconciliation, he withholds from Vonnie the fact that he’s also hunting for a downed airplane on this outing—and being paid by some shady operators to do so. The book’s opening half “shimmers” with apprehension and the sense that trouble lingering at the story’s fringes will soon “march center stage,” said Richard Rayner in the Los Angeles Times. Carlson doesn’t disappoint. He masterfully builds The Signal “to a climax of shocking, and satisfying, violence.”

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