In John B. Wright’s debut environmental mystery, Matt Solberg is charged with discovering who is lighting fires in the forests that surround Missoula, Montana. A geographer with a deep personal need to bring people out of danger, Matt leads a search and rescue team whose job is to head directly into the mouth of hell, hiking into blazing backcountry to find missing residents. Matt and his team not only rely on their hard-won knowledge of Montana’s wild landscape, but also on Matt’s mentor, Dr. Bill Knight, a fire ecologist who understands the burning beast better than anyone.
When a suspicious fire destroys the mansion of a movie star, Matt must hike in to find his missing daughter and save her from the chaos. Then fires begin to explode everywhere as climate change drives temperatures over 100 degrees and rain refuses to fall, threatening thousands of homes. Who is setting these fires? Is it the Montana Tree Monkeys, an eco-radical group determined to scare off the newcomers? Or is it a retired smokejumper with an axe to grind about the encroaching mansions? Could it be Paladin, a shadowy figure leaving strange clues around the state? It’s Matt’s mission to find answers to these questions during a summer of heat, smoke, and unimaginable loss. Weaving together gripping drama and intriguing fire science, Fire Scars reveals the physical and psychological wounds we all carry—and the power we have to overcome.
“Emotionally wrenching. . . . Haunting (and haunted) in the best possible way.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Darkly compelling.” —Tom Perrotta
In the fall of 2018, a bomb goes off at a water-bottling plant in the mountains of southwest Virginia, an incident the FBI declares an act of ecoterrorism. Arrested at the scene is Chris Bright, a mountain hermit with a long history of activism. Unaccounted for—and presumed dead—is Mara Wood, an installation artist who in the last two years has lost her son and left her husband.
But Mara’s estranged husband David cannot quite believe she is dead, and as he goes about reconstructing the story of what happened, he begins to imagine an alternate narrative—one in which their son doesn’t die and his wife doesn’t leave him, one in which his wife doesn’t carry on a secret relationship with Chris Bright, a man bent on fighting back against the environmental despoliation of his Appalachian home. Lioness is a page-turning, heart-wrenching examination of extremism: What pushes people to act violently, and is that violence ever justified?
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