By: John Manuel
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: November 2021
Reviewed by: Katie Specht
Review Date: December 15, 2021
From veteran author John Manuel comes the sequel to his previous novel The Lower Canyons entitled Solitario: The Lonely One. This novel follows the adventures of river guide Robbie Ducharme as he embarks on a journey down a never-before-run river. The adventures that Robbie and his clients live through while on this river trip turn out to be truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
Our protagonist, Robbie, is an experienced river guide living near the Rio Grande in Texas. As our story opens, Robbie is leading his last trip of the year and looking forward to spending the off-season with his girlfriend, Carmen. However, shortly after arriving home, Robbie is unpleasantly surprised to learn that an acquaintance of his, Daniel Gallagher, has filed assault and battery charges against him for an altercation that happened two years prior.
After being exonerated of these charges by the judge, Robbie is ready to go back to river guiding for the next season. Before heading out for the upcoming season, Robbie hires an assistant for his trips, Lara, who is the daughter of a close friend with whom he had a romantic relationship with in the past. They head out onto the river with their clients, not knowing that the trip they are about to embark on will be one that they will never forget.
Author John Manuel has achieved another success with Solitario: The Lonely One. Manuel’s writing is so descriptive that the reader will feel as though he is paddling down the river along with the characters. With his eloquent writing, Manuel paints a beautiful picture of the landscape that is the background of the story. The supporting details are well-developed, and the story moves along at a timely pace.
The story itself is the perfect blend of adventure, interpersonal relationships, and excitement. With his characters, Manuel crafts well-developed, intricate relationships, both romantic and platonic. The character of Daniel is one that the reader loves to hate throughout the bulk of the story. Amazingly, as the story progresses, Manuel converts this character’s actions so much so that by the conclusion, the reader finds himself developing a level of affinity for him. Achieving this successfully is a rare gift that not every writer is fortunate enough to possess.
Nature lovers will surely appreciate this book, as Manuel takes time to meticulously illuminate the background in which the story takes place. A distinct appreciation for history and the sanctity of ancient artifacts is also present. Any reader with an interest in the past will greatly value that aspect of the story.
Quill says: Manuel has succeeded in producing another thought-provoking, thrilling, and inspiring tale of life on the river through Robbie Ducharme’s eyes. Solitario: The Lonely One presents the ideal balance of character relationships and dangerous explorations on the Rio Grande, intermixed with a few surprises along the way.
For more information on Solitario: The Lonely One, please visit the author's website at: jsmanuel.com