An historic trader’s cabin has been found in the woods in northern Ontario and archaeologist Steve Dawson has been asked to investigate. Disturbed by the unpleasantness he and his co-worker Theo experience there, they quickly finish their work and move on, camping at Shekarkistergoan Lake, where they encounter the deeply unsettlingly, vigorous ghost of Charles Janvier, an eighteenth century voyageur with a bullet hole in the middle of his forehead. Charles’s tale of starvation, violence and cannibalism does nothing to ease Steve and Theo’s minds. This is no ephemeral spirit - he has substance, and altogether too much interest in the smell of their food.
Meanwhile, a little girl, separated from her school canoeing party has been lost in the woods for days. With a self-confessed cannibal hunting for her, things are starting to look desperate. Can Steve and Theo, aided by the ghosts of two of Charles’s victims, find the lost girl before Charles? And just how do you kill a two-hundred year old malevolent, flesh-eating ghoul before he goes on another rampage? They have to find a way.
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Nick Adams traditionally writes about motorcycles, archaeology and travels in Britain, but this novel, the second of a series (Friends of the Dead) sees him continuing the excellent departure he began in "The Ghosts of Holleford Lake." This work of fiction sees the return of his two protagonists, Steve and Theo, from "Ghosts" back in the wilderness and once again encountering the spectres they are investigating through their archaeological work. Except this time things get darker. MUCH darker!
This is a fascinating examination of what might be on the other side of life on earth and draws some of its storyline from true events and a good deal of its appeal from Adams's own experience and expertise with the wilderness of Ontario, archaeology and life in a canoe. The paranormal elements are deftly and convincingly handled and the characters and story lines will keep you flipping pages to the dramatic conclusion.
Nick is clearly as at home in the fiction world as he has proven to be when dealing with reality in his prior works. I was enthralled by the tale and found the writing smooth and effortless, carrying me along with the characters as the road we travelled got stranger and stranger. This new landscape is one I am looking forward to exploring with future works in the 'Friends of the Dead' series. I highly recommend these books (and particularly this one) to fans both familiar and new to Adams's work.