THE WILDFIRE SEASON by Andrew Pyper (HarperCollins), 326 pages, $29.95 cloth. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
It's always been difficult to label Andrew Pyper. His short stories are permanent residents of the literary camp, but his novels edge toward the suburbs of the action/adventure genre while maintaining a higher-brow bent.
His latest novel, The Wildfire Season, ostensibly tells the story of a firefighter in Ross River in the Yukon and his efforts to battle a man-made blaze and save lives, including that of his young daughter. Underlying the frenzy, however, lies the tale of a man dealing with losses: his looks, his dignity and the love of his life.
Pyper has explored these themes in the past. His protagonists are often damaged in both visible and hidden ways and aren't always the easiest people to love. The Wildfire Season takes these ideas one step further and explores what's required for redemption.
Here, Pyper attempts to marry the pace and suspense of a thriller with the depth and character development of the traditional novel. For the most part he's successful, although not to the extent of his first novel, Lost Girls.
The Wildfire Season has merit as both a literary work and a genre piece but may scare both camps away from picking it up. Too bad, since it is wholly engaging and satisfying.
Andrew Pyper joins the Harbourfront Reading Series Wednesday (May 11). See Readings, page 74. Andrew Pyper joins the Harbourfront Reading Series Wednesday (May 11). See Readings, page 74.
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