We read to be surprised. We also read to have our preconceptions reinforced. But openness to new fictional worlds means we allow for the possibility of experiencing a turning point in how we think, how we see.

Recently, I finished reading a novel that is described as a “thriller”–not my meat and potatoes as a reader. Coyote Fork is one of those books people like to say is “ripped from the headlines.” Yes, it is timely, but its concerns are as old as our species. I was surprised, entertained, and fired up by the time I completed reading it, and I wanted to read more by its author, Englishman James Wilson, pictured below.

Here is my Goodreads review.

“James Wilson’s Coyote Fork sweeps the reader along with protagonist Robert Lovelace, a British journalist, on a journey that will hook and hold lovers of noir mysteries all the way to the book’s conclusion. While that ought to be enough to warrant a recommendation, this novel’s appeal transcends genre expectations, exploring cosmic questions in a timely way.

“A scan of reviews and the publisher’s jacket blurb reveals an intriguing list of categorizations: techno-noir, metaphysical thriller, nature vs. nurture tale.

“Some reviewers/readers mislabel the novel “dystopian.” Yes, Coyote Fork’s fictional terrain certainly is dehumanizing and frightening, but novelist Wilson did not have to imagine a future with such depraved institutions and characters. Present day Silicon Valley and its myriad tentacles does just fine.

“Wilson’s stew of cultural influences is complex, and his understanding of causation and interrelationship impressive. In an interview with Shelley Fallows (who called Coyote Fork a “timely, stylishly written, and brilliantly conceived metaphysical thriller”), author Wilson describes Silicon Valley as “the improbable lovechild of two radically contradictory visions…the heroic individualism of Ayn Rand” and “the hippie movement of the sixties and seventies.” 

“Add to this the backdrop of a native American community (one of Wilson’s areas of expertise; he authored The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America, which won a Myers Outstanding Book Award), and you’ve got the ingredients for an entertaining and rich novel about troubling and important issues.

“In Wilson’s capable hands, the result is a story that works and characters that earn the reader’s interest. I am not a regular reader of thrillers, but this is one I plan to reread and to share with friends.”

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Ned Bachus is the author of Open Admissions (Wild River Books, 2017) and of the TURNING POINTS blog on nedbachus.com and on his OPEN ADMISSIONS Facebook Page. City of Brotherly Love (Fleur-de-Lis Books), his book of stories, was awarded the 2013 IPPY Gold Medal for Literary Fiction.