In John B. Wright’s debut environmental mystery, Matt Solberg is charged with discovering who is lighting fires in the forests that surround Missoula, Montana. A geographer with a deep personal need to bring people out of danger, Matt leads a search and rescue team whose job is to head directly into the mouth of hell, hiking into blazing backcountry to find missing residents. Matt and his team not only rely on their hard-won knowledge of Montana’s wild landscape, but also on Matt’s mentor, Dr. Bill Knight, a fire ecologist who understands the burning beast better than anyone.
When a suspicious fire destroys the mansion of a movie star, Matt must hike in to find his missing daughter and save her from the chaos. Then fires begin to explode everywhere as climate change drives temperatures over 100 degrees and rain refuses to fall, threatening thousands of homes. Who is setting these fires? Is it the Montana Tree Monkeys, an eco-radical group determined to scare off the newcomers? Or is it a retired smokejumper with an axe to grind about the encroaching mansions? Could it be Paladin, a shadowy figure leaving strange clues around the state? It’s Matt’s mission to find answers to these questions during a summer of heat, smoke, and unimaginable loss. Weaving together gripping drama and intriguing fire science, Fire Scars reveals the physical and psychological wounds we all carry—and the power we have to overcome.
“Fire Scars is simultaneously a compelling mystery, a treatise on the stunning geography of the western US, and an uncompromising look at the lengths people are willing to go to protect their home and way of life. It reminds one of Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang or James Lee Burke’s Bitterroot. Wright has given us a gorgeously written journey, equally adventurous and sobering. It is a beautiful and necessary book.” —Jesse Goolsby, author of Acceleration Hours
"There is so much to admire in Fire Scars, from the author's deep knowledge of the subject matter to the central metaphor of the novel: Much as the trees in Montana show the brutal history of the state's big burns through fire scars, so too do we all carry with us the history of our sorrows, those times when grief has all but consumed us." —Curtis Bradley Vickers, author of This Here is Devil's Work: A Novel