Well that escalated quickly.
Here we are just floating along fly fishing with our main characters, when BAMMM - some bat-* crazy stuff goes down in the last 15-20% of this book. Sure, we’re given warnings along the way that something sinister is afoot, but there’s sinister and then there’s… whatever this is.
If you haven’t read Peter Heller before, The Guide does have the stylistic hallmarks of his novels. Restrained length, staccato sentences, and a slight dystopian undercurrent. It’s the not-too-distant future, and strains of the coronavirus are still part of everyday life. Much like there are flu seasons, now there are COVID seasons. (Talk about a bleak bummer!)
The titular guide of The Guide is Jack, a semi-tragic character who appeared in Heller’s 2019 book, The River. There’s enough of that backstory sprinkled throughout this follow up that it can be read as a standalone should you choose. Jack is now 25 and working at a chichi lodge in Colorado teaching fly fishing to rich peeps. He and the woman (young and beautiful, of course) he’s guiding sense that something is strange about the place and begin to investigate. Heller must have watched a Scooby-Doo marathon during lockdown in 2020. Meddling kids can always save the day, amiright?
Even if the resolution of the novel gave me whiplash, The Guide still managed to be my favorite so far from this author. Outdoorsy types will enjoy the setting and poetic language about fishing, and thrill seekers will get their payoff with the bonkers ending. I guess you could say Heller reeled me in with this one. (I'm here all week, folks!)