Cover image of "Pines," an example of speculative fiction

You know the story, or at least you think you do. Our hero arrives in a small, out-of-the-way town in an unfamiliar part of the country . . . and everything seems off, just a little bit. There’s something strange going on, but it’s deep below the surface. Then the violence starts, and there’s no rational explanation. The suspense quickly becomes unbearable. And that’s what you’ll find in this brilliant example of speculative fiction.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Been there, done that? Unlikely.

Been there, done that? Well, that’s what you’re likely to think much of the way through Pines, the first volume in Blake Crouch’s Wayward Pines trilogy. I certainly did. In fact, given my aversion to horror stories, I became so frustrated that I practically tossed the book aside and looked for something more satisfying to read. Fortunately, I chose instead to read through to the end. Pines is not a horror story, at least not in the conventional sense. It’s . . . something else. If you enjoy speculative fiction, you’re likely to love this book. You’ve probably never read anything like it at all.

Pines (Wayward Pines #1) by Blake Crouch (2012) 320 pages ★★★★☆

Thought-provoking speculative fiction

Although Pines comes across as a conventional mystery or horror story, it’s worth the wait. The thesis of the book (and of the trilogy) is truly original. You may find it difficult to stop thinking about the story for a long time after you’ve read it. It’s easy to see how the trilogy was so quickly shaped into Wayward Pines, a high-profile television series, now in its second season. The pilot was directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Matt Dillon and Carla Gugino star. All three names will be familiar to contemporary movie-goers and television fans.

An unlikely story becomes even less likely

The story seems straightforward. Two U.S. Secret Service agents have disappeared in a tiny rural Idaho town on an investigation involving financial crime. (The Secret Service is an arm of the U.S. Treasury. Its brief extends beyond protection of the President.) A second team of agents is sent in pursuit of the first two — then they also disappear.

In a highway collision, one of the two new agents dies. The other staggers about town in a daze with no memory of what happened. His wallet, his gun, and his briefcase are nowhere to be found. Then the mysteries really begin.

Want to know more of the story? Read the book. It will give your mind a workout.

You’ll find the second book in the Wayward Pines Trilogy, Wayward, at Paradise lost in a small Idaho town. The concluding volume, The Last Town, is at A science fiction trilogy reaches a surprising conclusion.

You’ll find more great stories by this author at The chilling science fiction of Blake Crouch.

For more good reading, check out:

You might also check out Top 10 great popular novels.

And you can always find my most popular reviews, and the most recent ones, on the Home Page.