It’s easy to die out there. It’s easy to kill too.
Two weeks, 1,500 miles, three opportunities for her husband to save his own life.
It isn’t about his survival – it’s about hers.
Shattered by the discovery of her husband’s affair, Liv knows they need to leave the chaos of New York to try to save their marriage. Maybe the roadtrip that they’d always planned, exploring America’s national parks, just the two of them, would help heal the wounds.
But what Liv hasn’t told her husband is that she has set him three challenges. Three opportunities to prove he’s really sorry and worthy of her forgiveness.
If he fails? Well, it’s dangerous out there. There are so many ways to die in the wilderness. And if it’s easy to die, then it’s easy to kill too.
If their marriage can’t survive, he can’t either.
I missed out on a review copy of this new thriller from Welsh author B E Jones and I’m furious at myself because I’ve just read an excerpt and it’s seriously good.
Civilisation is flimsy at best and, believe me, you don’t have to go far beyond our well¬ groomed towns and smartly dressed cities to watch the veneer crack, see the mask slip, the old, dark shape of the beast emerge. You don’t even have to leave your own home, or what’s left of it, to open a rarely used zip pocket, click on an unexpected text, then feel the hairs on your neck rise, your claws slide out, feel yourself changing . . .
The prose has the bite of classic hardboiled crime fiction and the few pages I read left me hungry for more. Combine that with a plot which sounds like a gripping blend of the kind of domestic noir that is all the rage at the moment and a wilderness survival thriller, and this sounds like it could well be an absolute smash.
Here’s the full extract so you can make your own minds up:
No one died until six months after I saw the home video. The timing was complicated and there were important decisions to be made first, such as should I stay or should I go? Fall or fight? Mend or destroy? Curl up in a ball and die or . . .
Either way, there was no choosing on a whim, with a snap of my fingers, the toss of a coin, because what I saw in my future, if I made the wrong decision, was me all alone, scrabbling through the rubble among heaps of charred bones and the stench of death – in other words, divorced.
All right, perhaps it wouldn’t have been like that, like the actual end of the world, if I’d just left him, but that’s how it felt. So what if I wasn’t the first woman cheated on by her husband? So what if I wouldn’t be the last? It doesn’t matter that it’s a cliché, that it’s commonplace, that it’s glaringly mediocre. It still means the whole world and its end when it’s happening to you.
That’s why I’m trying to explain the last twelve months, the destruction that followed the discovery that my husband was sleeping with a skinny, skank-whore years younger than me. Because it’s not always the noisiest things that do the most harm, not the havoc reported on the nightly news with footage of smoking craters and swooping aid choppers. There’s the carnage that takes place in silence, in the confines of a twobedroom condo among the steel and stone canyons of New York City.
Wars are waged inside these ordinary spaces every day, unfolding quietly within four walls, within our own heads, and there’s no escape from them, no matter how many miles we travel. But we try, don’t we? We try to flee. We attempt to run. That’s how it all came down to one single second on our postcard-perfect ‘holiday of a lifetime’, our shining ‘dream road trip’, our enviable summer vacation – even though I knew about the affair, about Will’s Acup accomplice in infidelity. Because I’d forgiven him, except . . .
Except for that heavy-breathing doubt in the back of my head that refused to shut up and slink away, the one pawing the ground and baring its teeth all winter on the streets of New York, snarling – the little voice whispering, Does he deserve to be forgiven? Can he ever be trusted now? Can you?
I thought the road trip would give me some perspective, to test Will’s commitment to fixing things, without more words, endless, deceitful words, so slick and slippery. I needed to know he was really sorry. And if I didn’t have clear evidence of that by the end of the trip, well, I had options under consideration.
I don’t mean I’d actually plotted to kill him then. Plot, plan, premeditate are such precise words, pickily implying logic and structure when all I really had were a few ‘contingencies’ at hand. Because it’s dangerous out there in the wilderness, inside the resting jaws of the great unknown, always waiting to snap. Civilisation is flimsy at best and, believe me, you don’t have to go far beyond our well groomed towns and smartly dressed cities to watch the veneer crack, see the mask slip, the old, dark shape of the beast emerge. You don’t even have to leave your own home, or what’s left of it, to open a rarely used zip pocket, click on an unexpected text, then feel the hairs on your neck rise, your claws slide out, feel yourself changing . . .
Still, when Will and I set out on the first leg of our holiday it was only my usual research that had highlighted how easily people die all the time in North America’s national parks, those vast areas where there are great heights to fall from, things that want to bite and eat you, and places to lose yourself in for ever. All it takes is one misstep; a slip, a trip, a flash of fangs and each can mean disaster when you’re miles from help, out of sight of CCTV with no signal bars on your phone.
That’s what makes it easy to die out there. Makes it easy to kill, too. Believe me, I should know.
Because by then, by the time I lost myself under the vast skies, in the empty spaces, it wasn’t just about Will’s survival, it was about mine and, if you’re honest, that’s usually the most important thing. We’ll fight for that until we’re bloody and breathless, or someone else is, lying open eyed and broken in the undergrowth or splayed on a hot slab of city paving stone, until the bodies pile up alongside the excuses and you have to admit what you are – no more hiding.
Nothing makes you more honest with yourself than admitting you’re thinking about ways to kill your husband, except perhaps doing it. But as I said, on a flawless June morning, with 1500 miles and four states ahead of us, it wasn’t a plan, it was a possibility.
Fortunately, there are a load of other bloggers on the tour who’ve had a chance to read and review the book, check out their thoughts at the sites below.
‘Wilderness’ was published on 4th April and is available from the following retailers: