Setting his novel in the Pacific Northwest, Waite blends the rugged character of environment with the fractured relationship between a father and son. A former sheriff of Silver Lake, Patrick Drake has paid for a series of bad choices with disgrace in the community and twelve years in prison. Newly released, Patrick is on probation in the care of his son, Bobby, now a deputy sheriff in the same police department. Bobby Drake has a belly full of resentment stored up and no place the put the emotions heaving inside him, unsure whether he can trust the father who shamed the family name or forgive the years of their estrangement. (Shifting the burden of the tale from father to son, Waite refers to the former sheriff as Patrick, anointing Bobby as protagonist ďDrakeĒ as the story evolves.)
Drakeís wife, Sheri, has agreed that Patrick should stay with them after his release. A room is set up in the home that was formerly the old sheriffís, now assuming the characteristics of the next generation, the hopeful shape of their future. The couple is still grieving, still tentative with each other after the loss of a much-wanted pregnancy. And while the eyes of the community of Silver Lake are on Patrick, nothing left unremarked in this small place, the familiar landscape is like a balm to the returning convict.
Patrick has barely settled in to the home his son has gradually made his own and plans to track a lone wolf poaching game in the area with Drake and Fish and Game Warden Ellie Cobb when unfinished business from the years in prison intrudes. Two associates from Patís years in prison, bring with them the questions left unresolved after Patís conviction, in particular a large sum of unrecovered money. Even before the appearance of the strangers, DEA agent Frank Driscoll pulls Drake aside for a private talk, warning the son not to trust his father. Driscoll has Pat under surveillance when the returning ex-convict joins a group of old friends in a local bar, one of them the sheriff, Gary Elliot, once Patrickís deputy. Without warning, Patrick is on the run, his sudden disappearance and a violent murder only the start of the chaos that descends on Silver Lake.
With Driscoll and the U.S. Marshalls in hot pursuit, Patrick tries to evade capture, unaware of the events unfolding in his wake, while Drake has yet to come to grips with his feelings, still fiercely ambivalent and frustrated by his fatherís inexplicable actions. The strangers converge on Patís home in Silver Lake. as Drake treks to the isolated camp where his elderly grandfather, Monroe, has lived alone for decades, a man at ease with himself and the land around him, who loves his wayward son and agonizes about whether to share Patís secrets with Bobby.
Despite the issues of guilt or innocence, the threat of two killers on a mission to recover the spoils of Patís endeavors at drug-running, or a DEA agentís obsession with Patrick Drakeís case, Waiteís novel is rich with a sense of character. Three generations of men aer trapped in the errors of the past and the bonds of family, Drake reaching a new level of intimacy with the wife he has almost let slip away. Surrounded by the wilderness that has been the background of their lives, grandfather, father and son understand that the issues to be resolved are painful, the reach of forgiveness far and the meaning of manhood individual. Waite captures it all in lyrical prose that sets compassion before fault, the indifference and harmony of the vast landscape calling for greater effort from these men, the howl of a solitary wolf one they all hear.