Robert Liparulo

Thomas Nelson
Hardcover/496 pages
ISBN: 0785261796
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". . .a tale with moral and simple human values. . ."

“In giving comfort, it is impossible not to receive it.”

Four friends – David, Terry, Phil, and Hutch – are taking a break from their lives to camp in the wilderness of Saskatchewan, Canada. Terry and David want to fish; Phil wants to be with his friends, and Hutch wants to hunt caribou with his bow. Their camp is near Fiddler Falls on the Fond du Lac River, too close to a disaster about to test their friendship and resilience to the limit.

Tom Fuller, sheriff of Fiddler Falls, walks up to the burning heap of twisted metal and frying flesh that was once a local trapper coming back to town after running his trapping lines. A group of six people, four teenagers and two men in their early twenties, stand beside a black Hummer surveying the damage. In a few moments Fuller is running for his life. The town’s other 238 inhabitants, including Fuller’s wife Laura and son Dillon, are rounded up and locked in the town’s auditorium.

The tourists in the black Hummer are gamers researching a new video game to be based on devastating Fiddler Falls and the entire population. They will stop at nothing to get what they came for, and no one is safe. Before the gamers are done, Hutch and his friends and Laura and Dillon will face down the gamers in a battle to the death, fighting against cold-blooded murder and fire from the sky.

By pitting brilliant gaming minds in control of vast technological resources and weapons against a mother protecting her son and lifelong friends with real life skills, Robert Liparulo pens a tale with moral and simple human values in Deadfall. After a slow beginning that engages sympathy for the heroes of his story, Liparulo’s story becomes a staccato burst of plot-driven energy that switches gears, eventually becoming a character-centered thriller that finds it legs and runs for all it’s worth.

Liparulo’s prose is clean and sharp with the occasional jarring use of metaphors that clunk instead of zing, muddying scenes that are clearly and brightly realized.

Deadfall is surprising in its depth and scope and, once it gets going, never lets go of the throttle. Although Liparulo’s tendency to live only in the minds of his characters works for the gamers, he takes a little too much time getting to the heart and emotions of the central protagonists. However, when he gets there, he makes the trip worth the effort.

In spite of its minor flaws and initial uneven pacing, Deadfall is a shuddering ride through an isolated wilderness that leaves the reader breathless with anticipation and rooting wildly for the underdogs.

Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell