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3.77  ·  Rating details ·  5,114 ratings  ·  797 reviews
Rice Moore is just beginning to think his troubles are behind him. He’s found a job protecting a remote forest preserve in Virginian Appalachia where his main responsibilities include tracking wildlife and refurbishing cabins. It’s hard work, and totally solitary—perfect to hide away from the Mexican drug cartels he betrayed back in Arizona. But when Rice finds the carcass ...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published June 12th 2018 by Ecco
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Barb A bit bloody, but no sexual content. I would recommend it to an older teen boy or girl. It was very good. (by the time you read this, you might have g…moreA bit bloody, but no sexual content. I would recommend it to an older teen boy or girl. It was very good. (by the time you read this, you might have gotten it already ;)(less)

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Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,114 ratings  ·  797 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
”The giant trees were like dormant gods, vibrating with something he couldn’t name, not quite sentience, each one different from the others, each telling its own centuries-long story. On the forest floor, chestnut logs dead since the blight had rotted into chest-high berms soft with thick mosses, whispering quietly. Something called out and he turned to face a looming tulip tree, gnarled and bent like an old man, hollowed out by rot, lightning, ancient fires.

His skin tingled.”

 photo Tulip20Tree202_zpspz9btku8.jpg

Rice Moore fe
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a literary humdinger of a thriller. Set in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia, Rice Moore is a man with a dangerous past. As the caretaker of a nature preserve he seems to have found the perfect place to hide. Living an isolated and almost hermetic existence with his past seemingly behind him, Moore becomes involved in trying to stop a bear poaching ring that is operating on the preserve. Sounds straightforward doesn’t it? It isn’t.

The writing is absolutely sublime...atmospheric, evo
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

this is a fine, meaty debut. it’s grit lit literary enough to drop words like “extispicy,” but gritty enough to include an anecdote* that made me, long leatherskinned against book violence, wince.

it takes place deep in the virginia part of the appalachians, where a man named rice moore has been working for six months, appreciating the seclusion of his new home:

No other human being lived within miles. Rice presided alone over seven thousand acres of private nature preserve: he w
Jan 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Recommended to Paula by: Edgar award
Edgar Award for Best First Novel 2019

Everything about this book sounded like it was perfect for a good read. A new Ranger in the forest protecting bears that were being hunted for their paws and gallbladders. So similar to what goes on in Africa and other countries. The selling of parts as delicacies for the rich and famous. Just to make a buck. Profit is all that is thought about...not the lovely animals...

Bearskins started out well for me. Half way through, however, I lost interest. Too repeti
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
I went into this sucker as a buddy read with the high hopes of getting out of my book slump-working all the hours-holiday hecticness. It ain't happening.

No, I can't really have it all.

What I read of this is damn boring. I ain't got time for that.
This is old school frigging Captain Planet trying to sit down and do a grit lit book and it's just boring as hell.

We get you Captain...we really do. (If you are not old enough to know who Captain Planet is..then I just will go to my old corner a
Edward Lorn
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic addition to the Hick-Lit genre

BEARSKINS blew my expectations out of the water. At times beautiful, at times tense, this book is never boring. I enjoyed the author's way with words and his appreciation of small details. The genre needs more writers like James A. McLaughlin.
Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance
3/5 🐻🐻🐻

A rural, raw slow burn eco-thriller taking place in the Appalachian Mountains...

Rice Moore has left his past behind to become a caretaker at the Turk Mountain Preserve deep in the Appalachian Mountains. The locals are skeptical of him as he works for what they call “wealthy outsiders”. His predecessor, a woman, was raped while on the job, leaving him consciously aware and skittish of any movements around his living quarters and property. Not to mention his prior assignment to infiltrate a
J.K. Grice
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
In BEARSKIN, McLaughlin has not only crafted a taught novel of suspense, but also a compelling view of the natural world and how we as humans respect and/or exploit that world. Rice Moore is a unique character; an educated field biologist, as well as a part time badass when push comes to shove. He's a survivor and wiser than his years in some regards. I loved Rice's story and McLaughlin's prose and just how deftly this marvelous book was handled. Richly drawn characters abound in BEARSKIN, and I ...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

2.5 Stars

Upon realizing the buddy read of Bear Skin wasn’t going to be a winner for me, I was fully prepared to . . . .

But then a miracle of all miracles happened and our fearlessful leader Ron 2.0 not only finished this book but managed to write a review nearly instantly rather than his usual 18 month turnaround time. And then we agreed on it . . . . .

Ron points out in his review (go read it, he’s way gooder at the word thin
Ɗẳɳ  2.☊
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, grit-lit

Whatever is a reader to do when finding oneself with a thriller bereft of thrills? A resonating call of the wild that fails to resonate? A Grit Lit story without a whole heck of a lotta grit? Say it ain’t so, Joe!

Well, it wouldn’t surprise me if my frenemies who joined me for this buddy read, the GIF twins, simply throw in the towel. Time will tell. But I’ve always prided myself on my can-do attitude, my stick-to-it-iveness; my certain je ne sais quoi. So you better believe that I read ev
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a literary humdinger of a thriller. Set in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia, Rice Moore is a man with a dangerous past. As the caretaker of a nature preserve he seems to have found the perfect place to hide from a drug cartel. Living an isolated and almost hermetic existence, Moore becomes a vigilante as he tries to stop a bear poaching ring operating on the preserve. Sounds straightforward, doesn’t it? It isn’t.

The writing is absolutely sublime....atmospheric, evocative and, at tim
Cathrine ☯️
5 🤤 🤤 🤤 🤤 🤤
Lovely, dark, violent, and entertaining — a suspenseful poetic eco thriller tailor made for my guilty pleasures palate. I’m a respectful borrower so somehow managed to keep my saliva from dripping DNA all over the pages. Another Hot Damn! read.
Thank you James McLaughlin. I very much look forward to your next offering.
Joy D
This book provides a wonderful combination of observations on the natural world, a flawed but likeable main character, a complex plot, and erudite writing. It contains a diverse assortment of topics that the author skillfully weaves together into a cohesive story: old growth forests, ecology, herpetology, bear behavior, hunting dogs, federal and local law enforcement, drug cartels, even ghillie suits!

Rice, the main character, originally a biologist from the desert southwest, has become caretaker
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an awesome read. I live in Virginia so I had the added bonus that a good part of the book takes place there. I have had an odd fascination with bears. I actually self research interaction between bears and humans in my spare time because they fascinate me (I’m a research psychologist so I like to do research even in my spare time). So the bear aspect of the book was sad to read about (the hunting dogs also) but the different plots going on in Rice’s life really make this book. It was an ...more
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
How often do you hike the autumn woods, paddle a burbling creek, or shrink inside when you hear about big game hunters slaughtering beasts for no good reason? I am a geologist by education, vocation, but most importantly mindset. As they say in Steel Magnolias, I am "the outdoorsy type."

This gorgeous debut, written by a Virginia-born conservation attorney, was 20 years in the making, and that is why, I suppose, it feels like a life's work. The story, with a cathedral ceiling of tree canopy and c
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 - 3

I am always on the lookout for a new author to take me on a journey similar to Ian McGuire's The North Water . The synopsis of Bearskin made me think I was getting a modern day The Revenant crossed with some episodes of Narcos-Mexico. This was idealistic as Bearskin is more Powers The Overstory crossed with an ecology textbook by way of a few pages torn from Don Winslow.

Even though I wanted a literary / eco-thriller experience by the end of the novel I came to the conclusion I li
“What amazed Rice was how you could spend your whole life physically immersed in a particular ecological system and yet remain blinded to it by superstition, tradition, prejudice.”

A prominent theme in ‘Bearskin’ by James A. McLaughlin is the necessity of violence. Others are our disappearing world of nature, reality versus nonreality, and science versus superstition. The prologue opens with the protagonist, Rice Moore, in a prison in Mexico. It’s a violent scene for survival and the picture of h
Diane S ☔
DNF at 35% Writing is good just having trouble connecting.
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, book-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is not quite what I'd expected.
It's a genre blend of drug cartel thriller, Appalachian grit-lit with some paranormal/folkloric realism, and redemption tale but it's not mixed so well as to create a single, seamless story; there are definite chunks of genre floating throughout. Choking hazards abound.

Rice Moore/Rick Morton, 34, is on the run from Mexican drug cartels and is hiding as a caretaker for a large private preserve in the backwoods of Virginia. (view spoiler)
Dec 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Starts off with some possibility and a guy called Rice, with a back story of betraying Mexican drug cartels in Arizona. He wants to be off the grid and stay off the radar so he takes an obscure job as a tracker/caretaker/maintenance man deep in a private wilderness preserve in Virginia.

A mutilated bear is found on the property, hands cut off and gallbladder removed and hence it begins. He is so obsessed with catching the poachers and the various ways he sets traps and tracks activities is comme
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bearskin by James McLaughlin features a main character named Rice Moore as a caretaker of a private wildlife preserve in the Virginia Appalachian mountains. Rice is not native to the area and has taken over duties once carried out by a woman that was violently chased out by locals.

Locals in the area are offended people they consider outsiders have carved out the preserve in lands felt to belong to them, even though the preserve has been owned by the same people for many generations.

The story i
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an incredible read! I wasn't sure what I would end up thinking of it but the last 100 pages or so sealed the deal for me. "Bearskin" is an intense thriller and the author does an amazing job transporting the reader to the Appalachian mountains of Virginia. Truly a unique novel of suspense and I highly recommend it. All I can say is stick with it until the end-you'll be glad you did!
Melania 🍒
Oct 06, 2018 rated it liked it

Just fine. It dragged ,the end was too convenient ,actually the whole story was a bit unbelievable. After the 50% mark my interest in reading this took a hard hit and it never recovered. It was an achievement that I read the whole thing, to be fair.
Tom Mathews
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is my first book by McLaughlin and I really enjoyed it. Part literary/part thriller, it is the story of Rice, on the run from the Mexican cartels and taking refuge as the caretaker of a private nature preserve in Virginia. His tranquility is shattered though when he learns that poachers have been sneaking onto the property he is supposed to be protecting and killing and mutilating wild bears on the property.

I look forward to reading more books by James A. McLaughlin.

My thanks to the folks
B.A. Brock
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oof. That was a good book. I would have skipped my day job for that one, if I wasn’t so poor.

A mix between Thoreau and Nevada Barr, ‘Bearskin’ was equally surreal and stone-cold present in the moment. In fact, I’m still not sure if our protagonist has a few screws loose or not. I’m thinking so.

Rice was relatable, despite his toxic masculinity and stupidity (see toxic masculinity for source of said stupidity). I liked that he was half shaman and scientist, a source of his irreconcilable self. I
Working Man Reads
Jun 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. It was high on the manly scale. We had action, we had fun fights, we had the lone ranger badass.

I have read a few thrillers where I enjoyed the plot more. That being said looking at this book at face value. It is a great book if you wanna sit down and watch an action film play out on paper. The writing is spectacular.

The flashbacks in the book were a nice touch but kind of pulled me out of the story. That may be just a personal preference.

Overall I enjoyed this as a summer
Viv JM
4.5 stars

This is a really excellent debut literary thriller. There's enough excitement to be properly thrilling but it's also coupled with some really wonderful and evocative nature writing. I listened to the audiobook, which was very well narrated by MacLeod Andrews, so I would recommend that format.
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, fiction
Bears have always been powerful figures in the human imagination. They reside in the dark secret world of the forest. Their acute sense of smell lures them into close proximity to humans. When they rear up they present the image of a terrifying half-human revenant. They are resourceful and persevering apex hunters whose strength commands awe. Their ability to hibernate suggests a shared habitation with humans in a mythic dream world.

Author James McLaughlin, an experienced outdoorsman, exploits t
Fred Shaw
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bearskin by James A. McLauglin

Rice Monroe is the caretaker at a privately funded nature preserve in the Virginia Appalachian mountains. He is taking over the job previously held by a Virginia Tech biology professor, Sara Birkeland. Rice has changed his name, and wants to remain below the radar because of his recent incarceration in Arizona. He was caught trafficking unlawful substances between Mexico and the US. The drug cartel tried unsuccessfully to silence him in his cell to prevent him from
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A former smuggler tries to start a new life as a caretaker of an Appalachian forest preserve, in the thriller Bearskin . But his reprieve ends...
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“The giant trees were like dormant gods, vibrating with something he couldn't name, not quite sentience, each one different from the others, each telling its own centuries-long story.” 7 likes
“when you slack off, what you’re really doing is choosing to fail because you didn’t try hard enough. It was a rational choice, his father had said, for people who would rather fail on purpose than risk finding out they’re not good enough, but if you made that choice you should at least be honest with yourself about what you were doing.” 5 likes
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