“The cook had an aura of controlled apprehension about him, as if he routinely anticipated the most unforeseen disasters, and there was something about his son’s seriousness that reflected this; in fact, the boy looked so much like his father that several of the woodsmen had expressed their surprise that the son didn’t also walk with his dad’s pronounced limp.” How Dominic Baciagalupo acquired that limp, and the accident that killed his wife, Rosie, are his son Daniel’s favorite stories. Neither his dad nor his dad’s best friend, Ketchum, a “raging woodsman” with a loyal heart and decided opinions about everything, will talk about the night that led to the christening of Dead Woman Dam. That falls to Injun Jane, the camp’s dishwasher and Dominic’s lover.
Then another accidental death sends Daniel and Dominic running from local law enforcement, a girlfriend-beating bully of a man known as Constable Carl. In order to protect his son, Dominic goes underground in Boston’s North End.
Carl, it must be said, is no Inspector Javert. He lacks the drive and relentless implacability necessary to power a decades-long manhunt. Barring his homicidal tendencies, he’s more like the boorish former schoolmate you avoid at all costs at high school reunions – and he shows up about as often.
So, once every decade or so, Dominic and Daniel go “on the run” – with Dominic changing his name and getting a job in a new restaurant. The adult Daniel, meanwhile, has opted for a hide-in-plain-sight approach, becoming a world-famous novelist called Danny Angel, who dedicates novels to his father using his real first and last name. This is before Google made research effortless, granted; and, as Daniel points out, Carl doesn’t tend to read literary fiction. But there’s not a whole lot of tension here, and the way Daniel lives wrecks the conceit that he and his father are perpetually in danger from a madman.