by Blake Crouch
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312537401
Date: 07 July 2009 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
In the rugged, desolate mountains of Colorado, there was a small mining town named Hope. On Christmas Eve of 1893, hope ran out for 123 men, women and children who vanished without a trace. The ghost town was renamed Abandon and became as infamous and mysterious as the Lost Colony of Roanoke. Along with the townspeople, a ton of gold also disappeared.
Over one-hundred years later, backpackers hike into Abandon in search of ghosts, buried secrets, and hidden gold. What they didn't expect to find is evil men who will stop at nothing to find the gold. The same hideous fate that befell the original townspeople of Abandon will befall the backpackers. The times may have changed, but mankind's lust and greed for gold hasn't.
Abandon is an extremely suspense-filled, action-packed adventure that actually consists of two independent novels. Alternating between 1893 and 2009, each novel can exist on its own. However, both are beautifully interwoven. Events in the past parallel those that are occurring in the present. It is the mystery that remains the same. Where is that evil gold that turns father against daughter and husband against wife and neighbor against neighbor? Yes, there is plenty of bloodshed. However, what keeps this novel moving at a breakneck pace is the struggle of the major characters who battle freezing weather, starvation, dehydration and deadly, manmade weapons.
Speaking of characters, Abandon contains a rich assortment of believable characters that you can't help but love and hate. Some will sacrifice their lives to save strangers while others will gladly resort to disembowelment and dismemberment in order to satisfy their hunger for wealth. Some characters will shock you as the gold transforms them from law-abiding citizens into bloodthirsty savages. My eyes remained glued to the pages, unable to stop reading, as I worried and fretted over who would live and who would die. Abandon is filled with sorrow, suffering and tragedy. It's a sad commentary on modern society. Outwardly, we may have a more sophisticated appearance than our ancestors, but inwardly we are still no better.
Blake Crouch, the expert craftsman who authored Abandon, paints vivid scenes with his words. He is very descriptive of foliage, machinery and buildings. I could easily see (and smell) the rustic cabins, church, and saloon and the gorgeous, extravagant Emerald House as they existed in Abandon on Christmas Eve of 1893. I could also see them in their decay and ruin of 2009. One can't help but wonder what the town will look like over one-hundred years from now. Will people still be searching for the gold?
Abandon is an excellent novel that is highly recommended for fans of action adventure, mystery, and horror. If time permits, I will read Blake Crouch's previous novels, which include Desert Places and its sequel Locked Doors. Both pertain to a suspense writer who is tormented by a serial killer who is also his twin brother. I wonder if these novels are as provocative as Abandon. Each time I look at my gold jewelry, I feel a twinge of guilt as I think of all those who died in the mining town of Abandon.