This week I’m looking back at an audiobook I really enjoyed. Abandon by Blake Crouch, released in September 2016. Luke Daniels did an amazing job with the narration.
The story begins in 1893 with a mule skinner arriving in Abandon to find a ghost town. He’d been there only two weeks ago delivering supplies and the town was thriving and full of activity. Now the streets were deserted with the snow laying in drifts. Then he sees a young girl with a revolver, and it’s the last thing he ever sees.
Fast forward to 2009 and Abigail Foster, nervously contemplating the imminent meeting with the father who left her and her mother when she was four years old. Lawrence Foster, a history professor, had invited his daughter, a freelance journalist, to join an expedition ostensibly to research and photograph the deserted old mining town of Abandon. With them were their two guides, Scott and Jerrod, and a husband and wife team of paranormal photographers. Abigail had no notion of the real reason for the trip but she was about to find out very soon, and it would become a fight to survive.
The sheriff gave the envelope back but lingered a moment longer, her brown eyes passing over each member of the group as if taking some kind of mental inventory. “I hope y’all have a real safe trip,” she said, then tipped her hat again and strode back to the Expedition.
As they watched her climb in, crank the engine, and continue on up-canyon, Abigail caught something, but it was subtle, and she instantly let it go. In a day and a half, she’d remember this moment, wish to God she’d paid it more credence. What she saw was a glance between Scott and Lawrence – just two seconds of eye contact that looked something like relief.
The chapters alternate seamlessly between 1893 and 2009, with no doubt about which year it is, while filling in the events that lead up to the mysterious and total desertion of Abandon. The narrative is atmospheric and vividly descriptive, evoking the wilderness, the town and it’s inhabitants. Both time frames come alive with increasing tension and suspense and I found the plot really compelling.
The Christmas day events of 1893 and the outcome is horrific and very sad, the consequences of greed, secrets and betrayal. The happenings of the past are linked eerily to the present with the same greed and betrayal driving most of the characters’ behaviour. A few are unaware of the true nature of the expedition.
The townsfolk of Abandon are a motley crew – Lana, the mute piano player, Bessie the abused wife, Gloria and Ezekiel, coping with the loss of their little boy and Joss, the no holds barred saloon keeper, to name a few. All of them very well drawn and easy to visualise, some of them not who they appear to be. There are twists galore and the pace doesn’t let up. I never knew what was going to happen. Luke Daniels’ narration only added to the enjoyment. A brilliant job as always.
About the Book
One hundred sixteen years later, two backcountry guides are hired by a history professor and his journalist daughter to lead them to the abandoned mining town so they can learn what happened. Recently, a similar party had also attempted to explore the town and was never heard from again. Now the area is believed to be haunted. This crew is about to discover, 20 miles from civilization with a blizzard bearing down, that they are not alone, and the past is very much alive.