Sixteen-year-old Daniel Cooper has witnessed a gruesome murder but no one, except the murderer, believes his accusations. After barely surviving an attempt on his own life, Daniel flees home and heads toward upstate New York, where he hopes to find work on the construction of the Erie Canal. His joy at escape is shattered, however, when he realizes that the killer is tracking him with deadly intent.
This last installment in The Great Awakening Series (and the final work of the late Bill Bright) combines the tensions of a good thriller with the pleasures of a comfortable yarn. (Think John Grisham crossed with Mark Twain.) Although the writing felt choppy in the opening pages, this weakness was so immediately counterbalanced by vivid descriptions coupled with delicious ironies (such as an undertaker who cannot tolerate dead bodies, and a progressive schoolmaster who cannot fathom the adolescent vagaries of his own ward) that the flow of the story soon swept me past any obstructions of style. Loosely set against the background of the spiritual revival of the 1820s, this story of a young man’s flight from danger is a compelling introduction to a dynamic period of American history. Recommended especially for young adults.