By no stretch of the imagination can I describe this story as existing in the realm of the possible. But that doesnít mean it isnít a good novel. It all begins with the abduction of Rachel Innes on the way home from work near the Mexican border. Her attorney husband, Will, has fallen asleep over the briefs he is working on late into the night; their daughter, Devlin, with cystic fibrosis, sleeps peacefully in her room. In the morning, when Will realizes his wife hasnít returned, he steps outside just as police are arriving with bad news.
Eventually suspicion - as expected - falls on Will, who flees with Devlin in the dark of night, unwilling to be parted from his daughter and the critical therapy he gives her for her disease. At least she will have one parent to care for her special needs. Five years later, Will and Devlin are living in Colorado under fake identities, Devlin sixteen and both father and daughter staying carefully under the radar of public attention. Then an FBI agent appears on their doorstep with a theory about Rachelís disappearance.
Kalyn Sharp informs Will, now known as Joe Foster, that she has tracked them down from place to place and believes he is innocent. She also has a plan to arrest Xavier Estrada, connected to the Mexican drug cartel, and force him to disclose the criminal enterprise behind not only Rachelís disappearance but those of many other women over the years. This is where logic fails as Willís excessive naivetť allows him to participate in an outrageous attempt to get to the source of Rachelís disappearance, a journey that takes Kalyn, Will and Devlin to Arizona, Canada and eventually the wilds of Alaska.
If the reader can get past Willís participation in Kalynís plan, the rest is a wild ride through uncharted territory, the trio facing stone killers in a long-running enterprise reminiscent of Dan Simmonsís Carrion Comfort, only without the political context and fantastical support system. All their activities below notice of law enforcement, the FBI agent and desperate husband track the villains through the phases of an elaborate network that ends in violence.
The battle is met in the wilderness, where Will encounters a daunting challenge, complete with a pack of killer wolves and a sixteen-year-old daughter who refuses to be left behind regardless of the danger. As crazy as the premise for this tale seems, Crouch goes all in, writing harrowing scenes with pump-action Mossbergs and hand-to-hand combat, the site of a shocking betrayal and a frantic struggle for survival, the wolves snapping.
In for a penny, in for a pound. Once you accept Will Innesís absurd naivetť, the rest is easy. No matter how outrageous, Crouchís plot is compelling, an accident you canít look away from, or a B movie so bad that itís good. A decidedly twisted ending finishes off this bizarre adventure, where a happy conclusion is possible for some, the less fortunate scattered in the snow waiting for the spring thaw.