Guess what I know about fly-fishing? Zip. Nada. Diddly squat. But it didn’t matter because Peter Heller told me all about it. Have I been to a fancy resort for the uber-wealthy in the Colorado wilderness? Nope, but Peter Heller told me all about it. Kingfisher Lodge, boutique fishing at its finest, is nestled in a canyon along the most pristine river water on the planet, and locked behind a heavy gate. Sandwiched between barbed wire and a meadow with a sign that reads Don’t Get Shot! Kingfisher offers a respite from Covid for wealthy clients and for newly arrived fishing guide, Jack, a return to normalcy. Jack has lost both his mother and his best friend and blames himself for both deaths, heavy emotional baggage for a young man to carry. When he is assigned to guide a well-known singer, his only job is to rig her line, carry her gear, and steer her to the best trout he can find. Then a scream pierces the night.
“And a spiderweb’s gleamings in the exposed roots of a cut bank. And in a tailwater pool: the spreading rings of rising trout, dapping silently like slow rain.” Peter Heller, The Guide.
The Guide is intricately plotted, with a lush, lyrical, poetic style. Heller’s vivid descriptions of the gorgeous setting made me feel as if I was there, not reading about it here on the flat plains of Minnesota. It’s an unconventional, fast-paced thriller without the gore factor, which is always a plus. Another bonus? It is about Covid three years in the future, but the virus is not a major plot point. Other novels I’ve recently read dwell on it, as if we don’t hear enough about it in our everyday lives. By the way, although The Guide is a follow-up to The River, it works as a standalone. I didn’t think I’d like the novel at first because it was about a fly-fishing—sheesh, I don’t even like trout—but by the time I finished the book, I thought standing in a cold river flicking a fly rod sounded like a great idea. This was my first book by Peter Heller, and it won’t be my last. 4 stars.
Publication Date: August 2021
Genre: Thriller and Suspense
Read-alikes: A Solitude of Wolverines by Alice Henderson, Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin, Hunters in the Dark by Lawrence Osborne
- I received a digital review copy from NetGalley and the publisher for my honest feedback. I supplemented the book with audio, narrated by the talented Mark Deakins, whose credits include novels by John Grisham, Jodi Picoult, Gillian Flynn, and Pat Conroy.