I recently spent three weeks camping in Death Valley National Park. There, when not hiking canyons, I basked in the pleasant—well, hot—temperatures and eased into a languid “I kind of like just doin’ nothing, it’s something that I do” sort of existence (description courtesy of a Robert Earl Keen song—Something I Do).
Now that I’m back, it strikes me that Guy, the high school upperclassman who is my new novel’s protagonist, also knows something about “I kind of like just doin’ nothing.” If anything, Guy has become a little too comfortable doin’ nothing. It’s part of the reason he isn’t getting along with his father, is struggling in school, has lost all his friends, and sees himself mired in terminal “averageness.” Guy has also become adept at bending the truth. In an attempt to impress a girl who has so far remained beyond his reach, he spins a story around a valuable old artifact he took from his visiting uncle’s bedroom. When this doesn’t impress her, he seeks the help of a classmate who has all the manly charm and social standing he finds lacking in himself. Guy learns what a mistake he has made when his new friend and advisor becomes a romantic rival. Even worse, Guy realizes his so-called friend is really a dangerous young felon-in-the-making and that the artifact story has put his uncle at risk.
To straighten out the mess he’s created, Guy visits his uncle on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. On his arrival, Guy finds his uncle also facing a cryptic threat from another quarter. Guy tries to help, but becomes increasingly preoccupied with uncovering the origins of the artifact. Here, the real adventure begins. Guy and a new, too-smart female partner he reluctantly confides in find themselves in a struggle to survive when sabotage forces them to confront a gruesome historical mystery, and a modern one too, in a hazard-filled cave.