Fiction 2021 | 257 pages
25-year-old Jack leaves his father's ranch for a job as a fishing guide at an upscale resort, Kingfisher Lodge, on pristine river waters in Colorado. Dealing with grief over the loss of his best friend, Jack knows he finds solace, relief, and serenity whenever he stands in his waders and fishes. And what a gorgeous place to be able to do so!
Except, upon his arrival, he begins to question his decision. The lodge sits behind a locked gate, surrounded by barbed wire, and a sign that shouts "Don't Get Shot!" There are hidden cameras everywhere ... on a bridge crossing the river, fastened onto trees in the woods, even in Jack's cabin. He is assigned as a guide to a well-known singer, and his job is to carry her gear, set up her line, and find the best trout he can for her adventure. And then ... a human scream pierces the night, death is revealed, and Jack comes to realize that his lodge, a respite for wealthy clients during the time of a pandemic, may be a cover for a way more nefarious operation.
This is a wilderness story, a mystery, and a love story. What could be better? Heller’s writing simply astounds me, especially as he writes about fishing, I am not a fly fisher-woman, but Heller’s vivid description of the sparkle of the river, the beauty of the surrounding land, and the excitement of the chase, once you have a trout hooked, is spellbinding! He also paints a vivid picture of our two main characters, Jack, and his singer-star client, Alison K. And the mystery pulls you in … where are those breakfast trays going, and why is there a young girl in a hospital gown fleeing on the road? And what about the boot in the dirt, that disappeared?
The Guide is a selection in our local county library’s annual community read (they selected four books this year). I can see why! Over the last few days, I carried this book with me, and was eager to find moments to read a few pages or a chapter. Delightful!
I heartily recommend The Guide.
Is this a sequel to The River?
I read that on your recommendation
Huh! I forgot all about The River! I would not categorize The Guide as a sequel, though our main character, Jack, is the same person in the next stage of his life.
I read the Guide and liked that it continued to reference the grief we learned about with the story of Jack’s mother’s death (and her horse) that led him to the River (and yet another death). I agree that anything by Peter Heller is captivating, but I found the secret shenanigans going on to be contrived and unrealistic. I realize that he was making ties to Covid-19 and social inequity, but I just didn’t buy it. And to have it all resolve into a dramatic shoot out was just too much for me. But he wrote it during the height of the pandemic so maybe that affected his storytelling this time. I certainly will read his next book. The fly fishing information was very enjoyable and I do think about the Guide whenever I am forced to hike around the House on Metolius resort on the Metolius River at the far end of Camp Sherman near Sisters Oregon. If you haven’t already, read The Dog Stars, still Peter Heller’s best book in my opinion.
Ah yes, I see and appreciate your perspective, Deby! I have, btw, read The Dog Stars. The Dog Stars was the 2014 Novel Idea read for the Deschutes Public Library. This led to the selection of The Guide as a 2023 Novel Idea read, as all four books selected for 2023, in honor of the 20-year anniversary of A Novel Idea, are newer books from beloved authors in past years.