Although this is the second in the author’s ‘Friends of the Dead’ series, you don’t need to have read the first one to really enjoy this spooky story set in the Canadian wilderness. All you need to know is that archaeologists Steve and Theo have previously encountered a restless spirit from history, and were able to resolve that lost soul’s timeless torment. So now they’re sensitive to similar incidents when the dead won’t lie down…
Nicholas Adams pulls together several of my personal preferences in these books: the grim history of the pioneer years on the North American continent, when settlers would set out full of fresh-faced idealism for a new life in the New World and rapidly discovered the harsh truth about the hostile environment and its indigenous peoples.
Adams unites this theme with the realities of modern-day adventuring in northern Ontario, where white water rapids can instantly convert a canoe into matchsticks – or where a minor piloting error could leave explorers isolated in the wild without hope of rescue. He adds a supernatural mystery to the mix, reviving creepy characters from the past to plague his investigative duo. So we get an historical misadventure wrapped inside a modern-day romp – bears, wolves, and things that go bump in the night!
This time, the gruesome ghoul might be guilty of the worst crimes imaginable. Old-timers tell tales of a group of trappers and hunters, isolated in a bitter winter and corrupted by their most basic instincts. If you weren’t already intrigued, then #cannibalism should grab your attention. To raise the stakes, a school party has wandered into the haunted territory – and the famished phantasm has a young girl in his sights…
I hugely enjoyed this tale; the outcome is never as clear-cut as you might imagine, and the author takes pains to give his historical characters real depth and complexity. The ghosts aren’t simply scary monsters, but come across as real people. Oddly, and by contrast, I struggle to tell the modern protagonists apart – Theo and Steve are almost interchangeable for me, and they could do with being developed into easily distinguishable personalities.
You also get an authentic sense of the Canadian wilderness and the practical realities of field archaeology. There’s enough of each to evoke the great outdoors and add credibility to the tale but without slowing the pace or diverting the narrative.
Great stuff, and I look forward to the next one!
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
Evil at Lac La Mort by Nicholas Adams is available at Amazon, and you can catch him reading an excerpt from Lac la Mort here:
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