The stories are deeply felt and marvelously told tales of hunting and fishing in the UP and Alaska but the hunting and fishing serve as entry points for dealing or wrestling with private or interpersonal problems. The reason for a father and son hunting trip to Alaska is a father's way of trying to reconnect with a wayward son. A veteran of the Gulf Wars hunts and fishes to help heal the emotional and mental wounds of too many tours of duty. An old man and his middle-aged son find solace from grief and loss in the Northwoods, and three high school buddies return to their small hometown every year to reconnect.
This reviewer is curious as to how long the author spent in the UP before writing these stories because he has captured the essence, beauty, and lure of the peninsula's rugged landscape, primal forests, bountiful lakes and streams, abundant wildlife, and hardscrabble lifestyle of its inhabitants.
As with any great writer the characters he creates and the problems they must deal with are not limited or unique to males living in Michigan's northern peninsula, they are common to every man. The result is a wise, enjoyable, collection of short stories showcasing the splendor of the UP and the importance of relationships and the coming to grips with the thorny questions of life everyone faces.
Hunter's Moon: A Novel in Stories by Philip Caputo. Henry Holt, 2019, $28
When Laura Frizzo, the Iron River Police Chief began looking into the disappearance of Chris Regan the trail led to Jason and Kelly Cochran. Kelly and her husband immediately became the focal point of the investigation when Kelly admitted she had had an affair with Chris and her husband Jason knew about it. Captain Frizzo brought the State Police into the investigation but their experienced investigators soon dismissed the Cochran's as having nothing to do with man's disappearance.
Captain Frizzo was convinced Kelly was a pathological liar and had played a major role in Chris Regan's disappearance. The book is a detailed and engrossing account of the Chief of Police's dogged pursuit of the truth. For two years the Police Chief checked leads, interviewed and re-interviewed Jason and Kelly and kept turning up inconsistencies in the couple's accounts of where they were and what they did on the night Chris Regan disappeared. Just when Frizzo thought she had almost painted the couple into a prosecutorial corner Jason and Kelly fled to Indiana. Within days of returning to Hoosier Country Jason was rushed to a hospital where he died from what everyone thought was an overdose. Everyone except the coroner who reported Jason was murdered. Frizzo enlisted the help of a crack local investigator to help her nail Kelly for multiple homicides.
The author constructs his narrative from pages of court testimony, interviews with law enforcement officers, transcribed dialogue from body cams, and personal interviews he conducted with Jason and Kelly. The result is a gripping story of evil and a chilling descent into the mind of a serial killer.
Where Monsters Hide: Sex, Murder, and Madness in the Midwest by M. William Phelps. Kensington Books, 2019, $15.95
Great Lakes Rocks: 4 Billion Years of Geologic History in the Great Lakes Region
The Cabin by Landon Beach. Landon Beach Books, 2019, $13.99.
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