Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado boasts one of the most beautiful and deepest canyons in the United States. For twelve-year-old Brian Garrett, a weekend camping trip in the park promises to be an opportunity to bond with his aloof parents. But after his father suffers a horrible accident during a hike to the chasm’s floor, events spiral quickly out of control, and over the next twenty-four hours Brian will uncover a terrifying dark side to his father—and an even darker side to himself.
Discontented adolescent Brian, the narrator of this short, sharp shocker, admits to parricide in the opening paragraphs, and he has a few more startling surprises to spring before he’s through recalling his family’s ill-fated Colorado camping trip in the fall of 1990. Things are already tense between Brian and his bickering parents when Brian’s showboating dad stumbles off a cliff and seriously injures himself. While Brian’s mom runs for help, Brian watches over his dad, until the delirious man tells Brian a secret that makes the boy less inclined to save him. The stage is set for other revelations that put Brian’s behavior in grim context. Bates (The Taste of Fear) writes persuasively from Brian’s adolescent point of view, making the horror of his youthful reminiscences that much more intense. A coda shifting from the past to the present comes across as something of a storytelling cheat, but it doesn’t diminish the power of this first-person tale. (BookLife)