Rating: 4 of 5
Author: Mark Sadler
Returning home early from a job working on a drilling platform, Michael Renton finds a strange pickup truck filled with his possessions parked outside of his house. Certain he is being robbed and that his family may be in danger, Michael grabs his shotgun intent on defending his wife, children, and property. What follows is an unfortunate series of events resulting in a unforgivable crime of passion. Distraught and without hope, Michael leaves town tortured by the memories of his actions. He considers suicide as a way to end the pain, but decides instead to fulfill a lifelong dream of exploring the Appalachian trail in order to find peace and perhaps end it all on such a journey. As he travels cross country to begin his journey in Georgia, little does Michael know he is being tracked by someone intent on seeking revenge for the brutal slaying he has committed.
As I read Mark Sadler’s Blood on His Hands, I was reminded of A Simple Plan by Scott Smith and how a sequence of smaller choices suddenly gets completely out of control and the resulting consequences destroy so many lives. Sadler does a great job putting us inside Michael Renton’s head and the remorse and questions one would ask themselves if found in a similar situation – Is life worth continuing? What about kids and family? How to live with such guilt? Can inner peace be regained? Is ending it all being selfish or is continuing to live more selfish? If only one could go back in time and change any one event perhaps it would all be different…
I especially enjoyed the latter half of the book where the action takes place along the Appalachian trail. The author’s month long experience hiking the trial comes through in the wonderful description of the trail itself, the available lodging, the wildlife, camping, types of hikers one encounters, small towns along the trail, equipment needed, and all around hiking life on the trail. The care in which all of this is described and woven into the storyline gives it a strong sense of realism such that I felt I was right there along experiencing the beauty, wonder, danger, and aching muscles associated with hiking the AT.
The eventual climax and resolution of the novel is very satisfying and expertly written in the vein of classic passages penned by best selling authors Lincoln and Child. Those who enjoy an engaging and face paced thriller along with the majesty of one of natures most beautiful hiking settings will surely enjoy Blood on His Hands.