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Retro Reading: The Trail by Brian Francis


As the scare season rapidly approaches, true bibliophiles looking for something scary may not find it in this book, but it is a good suspense novel. Sure, there's a major problem, but that comes later.

Scott and Susan Ginder have a camping trip planned in the deep woods of Pennsylvania (somewhere along the Appalachian Trail) with the hope of rekindling their marriage, but on the day that they're leaving, Scott comes home with their college friend Jack and his girlfriend Kim.

Susan is livid that Scott has invited them, but he claims that they came to see him at the office, so what was he going to do? While Susan likes Jack, she's not too fond of Kim after meeting her and after packing up the car the four head off on their adventure.

After Scott tells them where they're going to camp, Jack tells him there's another spot he knows of that has a lake. Scott likes the idea of having their own private lake, so they head to the new location.

What they don't know is they're being watched by a serial killer and some hikers have recently gone missing (within the last few days) but they throw caution to the wind and head deep into the woods.

Susan, who has always doubted her marriage, decides that she's always been in love with Jack and after telling him, she plans on divorcing Scott since he has been cheating on her for years.

Even though this foursome is the main storyline, the second revolves around Sheriff Adams and his investigation into the disappearance of the hikers, and essentially letting the killer, Martin Levy go scot-free. He only learns that Levy is the killer after he hears a story from waitress Nicole and why her husband committed suicide.

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After the sheriff learns more from Nicole, he begins to believe the stories that have been circulating for years about the town of Crenson and comes face to face with the leader of the cult and the followers.

During the three days, it's survival of the fittest and it takes forever for them to even get close to getting out of the woods.

That's not the problem.

The book is a little oversized and there are 133 chapters. Since there are this many chapters and in an oversized book, the print seems too close together. This is what made reading the book difficult.

I thought Francis did a great job with putting you into the action (especially in the woods) and while the book didn't scare the bejesus out of me, it had its suspenseful and ah-ha moments.

Another thing that I enjoyed about the book is Levy doesn't just stalk the four campers, but there's a pileup of bodies and it's like murder is Levy's fulltime job.

The murders are pretty graphic and if you go into the woods, chances are you're not coming out alive in this part of Pennsylvania

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