It is 1978, and three generations have set out on a family hunting trip to Goat Mountain in northern California. The narrator is a man looking back on his eleven-year-old self, so eager to make a first kill. Along with his grandfather, his father, and his father's best friend, Tom, the boy is prepared for a marathon of deer tracking except the day's victim will be human, a poacher the men catch on their land. This murder occurs in the first chapter, and the rest of the novel is about its psychological aftermath, as the men weigh their complicity and decide whether to cover up the crime.
The opening sentences display Vann's compact style as well as the vivid sense of place, with color, smell, and texture adding up to a description worthy of John Steinbeck: "Dust like powder blanketing the air, making a reddish apparition of the day. Smell of that dust and smell of pine...
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