** spoiler alert **
This was on many of the Best of 2009 lists. It's compelling, it's well written (although oddly missing commas--and I'm usually comma lax--and it has a number of very awkward sentences I'd have to stop to read more than once before I got them), and it's meticulously researched. It's a MacBeth-type story set in Appalachia, in the world of the lumber barons--and the lumber workers. That part of the story works beautifully, as does the suspense--and the brutality both by people and by the dangers of the logging business. What did not work for me as well was the love story. I wished I had just a bit more back story on the two main characters. A lot hinges on their passion for each other but it came across as a bit lukewarm for me. I'm not asking for bodice-ripper heaves and sighs, just a bit more to hang my reader-hat on as far as taking it on faith that love could drive these two to what they do. And they do a lot. As I read it, I kept thinking what am amazing movie it could make, and I read that the rights are already sold. Some actress is going to have a remarkable opportunity playing Serena Pemberton.