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The Wildfire Season [Paperback]

Andrew Pyper
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

April 2008

After half his body was burned in a forest fire, Miles McEwan left his life behind and moved to the most remote place he could find, a little village in the Yukon called Ross River. He's sitting at his usual spot in the town's one bar as two life-changing forces approach from opposite sides: one is a forest fire, set with the flick of a match; the other is his former girlfriend, who after five years of searching has tracked him down, bringing with her a daughter Miles didn't know he had. As head of the town's firefighters, Miles must confront the fire, find a killer, and protect his newfound family. Andrew Pyper's vivid, panoramic story encompasses the vast wilderness of the Yukon, as malevolent forces of nature and man converge on Ross River, in this "brilliant melding of mystery, suspense, survival, and the supernatural" (The Vancouver Sun).


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From Amazon

Miles McEwan lives alone in the town of Ross River at the end of the road in the Yukon. As bush fire chief, he has a crew of five, including his best friend, Mungo, and several other local characters. Miles's past is written on his face in the form of a serious scar he acquired in a wildfire a few years earlier, during which he was unable to save a young firefighter whose presence he sometimes now hallucinates. His bitter past also includes his girlfriend, Alex, who he was about to marry and then abandoned, and his unknown child, Rachel, now five. Alex has spent the past five summers looking for Miles across the Canadian West. One day she and Rachel walk into the local hotel bar and there he is. Miles, tough and angry, isn't sure he wants to start up again, while Alex longs to make him suffer by letting him fall in love with Rachel and then taking her away. Because he has slept with the Métis tracker, Margot, Miles has acquired a local enemy in her nasty boyfriend Wade. Everything comes to a head when a minor fire quickly goes out of control.

At times, The Wildfire Season is a white-hot read, although the drawn-out climax brings together too many variables, as the long-suffering Miles is hunted by the fire, Wade, and a grizzly all at the same time. Pyper writes well ("in the salt and pepper haze that counts for dawn on a fire site") but sections that give the grizzly's view prove absurdly anthropomorphic. However, the characters are fully, tragically human, and the fire lore is magnificent. --Mark Frutkin --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Set in Ross River, a tiny Canadian Yukon settlement, Pyper's subtle thriller develops a sense of dread more from the menace of uncontrollable forest fires and lurking grizzlies than the human predator who remains anonymous until the end. The local fire chief, Miles McEwan, is a loner whose hidden past is revealed when Alex, his vengeful former lover, arrives in Ross River with their five-year-old daughter, Rachel. Meanwhile, a retired executive and his wife come to town for a grizzly hunt, and it's wildfire season. As several fires combine to threaten Ross River's stubbornly independent inhabitants, the firefighters, the hunting party and the bears, an individual is plotting murder. Pyper (Lost Girls) writes beautifully about the splendor and dangers of the wilderness. He doesn't anthropomorphize, but his understanding of bears and fire imbues both with a life force. A bestseller in Canada, this novel offers excellent pacing and credible characters, though readers should be prepared for some horrific violence. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A tragic and Endearing Tale April 18 2009
By Toni Osborne TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This novel takes you on an unusual adventure right into the heart of God's country, the ultimate wilderness... Some would consider the secluded village "Ross River" to be at the end of the loneliest road in the Yukon. It is the story of Miles Mc Ewan, a man scarred and troubled by his past who has found refuge in this remote region as a fire fighter.

All of the author's characters recount in their own words this tragic, endearing and heartbreaking tale. Even the grizzle bear is given human characteristics. I found the first part to be a bit slow and obscure, the multi- faceted narration distracted me, but as the story progressed, the writing flowed beautifully. The suspense and intrigue intensified when Mr Pyper's characters described the chaos of fighting forest fires and how they affect the people and the surrounding environment. Through his words, the author successfully painted an outstanding vision of the landscape, giving us an insight into the dangers and perils, as well as the benefits of living in the wilderness. He has softened the tone by injecting some tender moments.

The Wildfire Season is a very complex psychological thriller, one with a touch of mystic and one with a lasting impression.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Fire isn't like us. It never forgives." April 1 2008
By Luan Gaines - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This novel was a surprise, what I expected in a well-plotted mystery enhanced by the basic themes of human and nature, betrayal, tragedy, redemption and the unpredictability of a forest fire on the rampage, a small flame simmering over a landscape, eventually dancing from tree to tree in a remote area of Yukon wilderness. Caught in the fire, the inhabitants of Ross River will face the fury of an out-of-control burn, their intimate personal struggles laid bare in a stunning denouement. From the first, from the eager, hungry tongues of flame that nibble on the dry branches, subdued by nighttime damp, to the electric atmosphere of the local bar, where a group of outcasts establish an uneasy peace, this story is fueled on raw energy, jealousy and rage, the tensions building as surely as the teasing blaze that twirls along the edges of its intent.

Lead firefighter Miles McEwan has finally retreated to the furthest corner of the world where he can exist on a minimum of commitment, his body half-clear, half-scarred by a fire that almost took his life along with his future. Marriage plans with Alex abruptly shattered by a psyche damaged as deeply inside as outside, Miles chose to run from a situation that overwhelmed him. Now, five years later, the smoky gloom of the bar is severed by a slice of sunlight and the entrance of a woman and a little girl, hand in hand. After five summers of searching, Alex has found Miles, come for her day of reckoning, their daughter's hand held in her fierce grip. Miles realizes the time has come to face the consequences of what he thought was pride, but is really cowardice, at least in Alex's eyes.

In this place, at this time, everything comes together, a long-time feud between a local guide, Wade, and Miles. Wade and Miles are eerily similar, except one has crossed the boundaries of a Faustian bargain, the other not yet committed to a soulless existence. As Alex bravely confronts Miles, purified by her anger, Rachel, her daughter, touches Miles' scarred face lovingly; elsewhere, a grizzly sow and her pups are trapped by Wade and his partner's wealthy hunter, setting yet another critical element of the drama in motion. Miles searches desperately for redemption, for one more chance as the ferocity of nature threatens, the world made small in a battle to survive the flames one more time. In wonderful, insightful prose, Pyper delivers on every count, man against nature and a formidable enemy to find his finer self. Luan Gaines/2008.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A surprising thriller. Aug. 16 2010
By TChris - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This novel deserves a wider audience. Sort of a thriller combined with an action-adventure-wilderness story, the novel is a welcome change from the cliched plots that pepper both genres. Although the story is a wild ride (the race to escape the rapidly spreading fire, not to mention the angry grizzly and the guy with the gun, is intense and memorable), the novel's strength comes from its well-developed characters and their interactions. The principle characters are all flawed or broken or both, and their issues are just as compelling as the wildfire that threatens them. Few novels succeed so well in blending the "story first" sensibility of genre fiction and the "character first" sensibility that drives mainstream fiction.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fine thriller Dec 9 2006
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Miles McEwan moved to literally the end of the road when he relocated to Ross River in the Yukon to become the tiny hamlet's fire chief as he hides from his past though he cannot elude the fiery burn scars that mark and mock his face. Though he drinks a lot to somewhat bury his mental anguish that haunts him, Miles is also aware that he must remain somewhat sober as this is the area's inferno season when forest fires tend to go out of control.

However, this particular season is going be even more chaotic than any Miles can remember. His angry bitter former lover Alex and their five-year-old daughter Rachel have arrived in town; he does not want to see them because they would see him and what has become of him. There is also a bear hunting expedition that is foolish at a time when several fires nearby are blazing. When these separate conflagrations consolidate, the town is endangered. While Miles is distracted by his ex and the inferno, someone sees an opportunity to use the grizzly hunters and the fires to commit murder.

THE WILDFIRE SEASON is a terrific descriptive look at the dangers of the wilderness used as great background to a fine thriller. The fire scenes are superbly described so that the audience will feel the heat and peril facing heroes. Miles is a solid protagonist who wants no human contact except for his bartender serving him drinks, his firefighting team only in an official capacity, and rescues. The murder subplot augments a tense graphic tale that hooks readers from start to finish.

Harriet Klausner
4.0 out of 5 stars enjoy Aug. 30 2013
By bill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Good story. Good author . This guy has a unique style this story was good but Demonoligist is his best
4.0 out of 5 stars Character-driven page turner with an "Up North" setting Jan. 8 2010
By K. A. Evans - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very entertaining novel focusing more on the mental turmoils of the characters than the wildfire. Provides some awakening insight to the life for those of the deep North woods and forest firefighting. Pyper has a pure talent for detailing the sensory and mind-twisting of his characters. Excellent read.
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