The Slickrock Paradox
Book One: The Slickrock Paradox
From TouchWood Editions, September 2012
VERDICT Exciting, dense with literary references, and definitely worth a try. Canadian author -Legault’s (The Vanishing Track) complex new series start will appeal to conspiracy buffs, outdoors enthusiasts, and literary detectives. Think Betty Webb for her passion for hot-button topics and Nevada Barr for the gripping challenges posed by the land. – The Library Journal, Sept 2012
Silas Pearson is looking for answers. It’s been three-and-a-half years since his wife, Penelope de Silva, disappeared while working on a clandestine conservation project in Utah’s red rock wilderness. Local and federal law enforcement authorities have all but given up hope of finding the adventurous de Silva alive, but Pearson has not. Having forfeited his tenure at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff where he taught contemporary western literature, Pearson has opened a tiny book store far off the beaten track in Moab, Utah, where his wife was last seen. But selling the occasional book is just a pretext for Silas Pearson’s true purpose: to find his wife, dead or alive.
Troubled by calamitous decisions, wrecked marriages, estrangement from his two grown sons, and obsessive work habits, Silas Pearson was on track to loosing Penelope – his third wife – to indifference and neglect when she disappeared. Friends and foe alike suggest that she may not have vanished into the desert at all, but simply left him for another man.
But Pearson, a Canadian by birth who immigrated to the US when he and de Silva were married more than a decade ago, refuses to believe that. He fosters a growing suspicion that some sort of malfeasance lead to de Silva’s disappearance. Her secretive conservation project – which he believes was related to protecting what she called “Ed Abbey Country” after the famous desert rat and writer – brought her into conflict with the Southwest’s developers and promoters, who had much to lose had she succeeded.
For more than three years now Silas Pearson has been pacing out every mesa and canyon within a long day’s drive of Moab, following up on de Silva’s last know whereabouts. At night he stands before a room sized topographical map and marks off the territory he’s searched. Plagued by nightmares, Pearson wakes one morning from a dream in which Penelope quotes from Abbey’s Desert Solitaire. He finds the passage and before dawn drives into a remote corner of Arches National Park to search the length of Courthouse Wash. He spends the entire day scouring the canyon, ignoring the searing heat and thunderheads. Late in the afternoon the sky bursts open and a wall of blood-colored water surges down the gorge; Silas is caught in the flash flood. When he wakes he is in a pool of quicksand, a skelatalized arm protruding from the morass.
But is it Penelope? And if not, they who is it, and why has he been lead to this body?
Silas’ search takes him into a spectacular wilderness of red rock canyons, soaring mesas and vertical earth where he must confront his own failures as a man and a husband, along with the powerful interests his wife opposed. The Red Rock Canyon Mysteries is a series of books that explores an iconic American landscape through an atypical antihero; deeply flawed, reluctant and yet familiar. What Silas Pearson uncovers in the Red Rock wilderness while he searches for his wife creates a complex and spellbinding thriller that threatens far more than just one man’s life; it threatens a celebrated American wilderness and all those who cherish it.
Stephen has a gallery of photographs from the Southwest for your viewing pleasure here.
Book One: The Slickrock Paradox : Fall 2012
Book Two: Black Sun Descending : Fall 2014
Book Three: The Same River Twice: Fall 2015