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Dead Man Falling
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ISBN-10: 1-89484-125-5
Genre: Suspense/Thriller
eBook Length: 233 Pages
Published: January 2002

From inside the flap

False identities, the persistence of memory, and the refusal to admit that love can not save you, combine in a razor-edged crime novel that establishes Randall Silvis as one of the preeminent practitioners of the literary art. The hero of this novel, Mac Parris, isn?t who he appears to be. A wildlife photographer living under an assumed name, he knows firsthand that the most dangerous animal of all is the one behind the camera. He has spent his adult life hiding from the FBI and his own past, while locked in a feverish pursuit of revenge. Although a master of self-denial, Parris has not learned to subdue the one quality that might prove his undoing: his compassion for the other wounded creatures with whom he shares this planet. So when a young woman with secrets of her own asks for help in finding her brotherís killer, Parris puts his own safety at stake?along with his freedom, and maybe even his soul.

Reviews and Awards

I found this book to be beautifully written, like a sad haunting love lost song. The images are starkly brutal but softly painted. This book reads like poetry which should be deep and complicated but is not.

This is a very re-readable book, one that might just call out to you some dark night from some similiar nightmare.

--Reviewed by Linda Nelson for SimGen 5 Stars

Dead Man Falling is magical, complex and lingering. Silvis has created a worthy hero in the stoic Mac Parris, a man who has retreated into the shadows and laws of nature to hone his beliefs and ultimately find his true self. The climax is the product of Mac Parris? belief in the earthís laws, and will have you cheering.

-- Shel Buchner 2001 -- 5 Stars

Dead Man Falling (Excerpt)


The morning of the twenty-first day. Wet red light on a lavender sky, one long scorching streak against the horizon, alive and fluid. The light seems drier somehow as it bleeds toward me through the trees, the dust and ash of dawn, an afterglow. And the trees themselves look black as burned skeletons.

Black coffee in a blue metal cup. Twenty-one mornings of black coffee in a blue metal cup, and still no wolverine. If I am to see one today it will be within the next hour, as the animal returns from its forays through the night, belly full. I've seen it a hundred times in my mind already, the way it will look when I finally spot one, at first just a black shape moving from tree to tree, sniffing at the ground. I will think it a bear cub, and as I reach for the binoculars I will try not to jinx myself with too much hope. Then in magnification I will see the bearish head on the dwarfish body, the dense, coarse fur, the agile loping stride on oversized paws, the massive savage jaw.

If I fail to spot one within the next hour, before the sun loses its bloody sheen, I will write and read and nap and take care of camp chores until nightfall, when the nocturnal creatures come out to feed again. All my allies of the night. I have decided to give this project another nine days; if I don't spot a wolverine by the end of the month, I'll either move further north, deeper into Canada, or abandon the project altogether. I would hate to have to give up, but if I do I won't be the first person to have been bested by the "demon of the North."

Not that merely spotting one will be any kind of victory. Even if I manage to locate a wolverine, or better yet a mating pair, will I be able to stay with one long enough to get three hundred minutes of tape, and of sufficient drama that it can be rendered into an hour-long tale? They are such peripatetic creatures, their movements so unpredictable, it is a matter of pure luck whether I even see one or not.

Especially here. This pine forest is a good hundred miles southeast of their normal territory. And I, of all people, should realize how little credit should be ascribed to reports of random sightings. I know my chances are minuscule here, yet here I sit, twenty-one mornings of black coffee in a metal cup, three weeks lived close to the needle-matted ground.

Sometimes I puzzle myself. I realize, for example, that this is my nature, to always pursue the path of most resistance. But I have no inkling as to why this is my nature. I understand that I like the idea of filming a wolverine outside of his normal range, in territory unfamiliar to both of us, where both man and animal, predator and prey, will be forced to rely on instinct rather than habit. But why do I prefer to have the odds so stacked against me?

I understand also that it is the mystery of the wolverine that keeps me sitting here through the chilly October nights. Like all good mysteries, this one is difficult to unravel and is heavily laced with fear. Apocrypha abound. Do I feel a kinship with this elusive, maligned creature? Possibly. Do I envy his reputation for ferocity, the undeserved terror he inspires? Unfortunately, probably so. Do I covet his freedom of movement, the nonchalance with which he wanders far and wide? Absolutely.

So I sit and drink black coffee and wait for the sun to rise above the trees. I listen for a scrape of leaves, a rustle, an unsuspecting crunch of footsteps. In another forty minutes I will light the camp stove and have some breakfast. Then I will sleep a while. Late this afternoon I will make another thermos of coffee to see me through another night. In the meantime, this final hour of my watch suffuses me with something akin to peace, a fatigue beyond caring, an indifference to the world back home and all the ways it lies in wait for me.

It is the wolverine, this time, that has brought me into the woods. But there is always another reason too, the reason I keep coming back, the reason, despite the discomfort of staying here, I am always reluctant to leave. This reason does not change from project to project, from animal to animal. The reason is one aspect of myself that I truly understand. And the reason is this:

Here in the woods, I never dream of fire.