Hell or High Water Author Peter Heller Releases New Novel: The River


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Longtime whitewater kayaker and author Peter Heller is well known amongst paddlers for such non-fiction works as Hell or High Water, depicting Scott Lindgren and company’s first descent attempt of Tibet’s Tsangpo Gorge. Other non-fiction works include The Whale Warriors and Kook.

Turning his efforts to fiction over the past few years with such classic works as The Painter, The Dog Stars and Celine,  now he returns to a setting he knows well in his new  novel, The River.

The book is about two college kids, best friends, who take a canoe trip on the remote and wild Maskwa River in northern Canada up near Hudson Bay. The young men share a deep love of books and rivers and wilderness. Jack is a tough ranch kid from Kremmling, Colorado, who has spent half his life in the saddle; cooking over a fire and sleeping under the stars are as second nature to him as breathing. Wynn is a gentle giant, an architect’s son from Vermont, sweet in every cell, who loves nothing more than paddling a canoe and making ephemeral art out of stones and water.

Thus begins an idyllic, leisurely paddle until…stuff happens: Fire, a killer early frost, an injured and abandoned woman. It’s a cascade of events that test their friendship and everything they hold dear.


Praise for The River

 “Using an artist’s eye to describe Jack and Wynn’s wilderness world, Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist Heller has transformed his own outdoor experiences into a heart-pounding adventure that’s hard to put down.”

Library Journal (Starred Review)  

“Two college friends’ leisurely river trek becomes an ordeal of fire and human malice… [Heller’s] pacing is masterful as well… Fresh and affecting… An exhilarating tale delivered with the pace of a thriller and the wisdom of a grizzled nature guide.”

—Kirkus (Starred Review)

“Heller once again chronicles life-or-death adventure with empathy for the natural world and the characters who people it. He writes most mightily of the boys’ friendship and their beloved, uncompromising wilderness, depicting those layers of life that lie far beyond what is more commonly seen.”


  With its evocative descriptions of nature’s splendor and brutality, Heller’s novel beautifully depicts the powers that can drive humans apart—and those that compel them to return repeatedly to one another.”

Publishers Weekly 


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