Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Bearskin” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.9  ·  Rating details ·  649 Ratings  ·  144 Reviews
Rice Moore is just beginning to think his troubles are behind him. He’s found a job protecting a remote forest preserve in Virginian Appalachia where his main responsibilities include tracking wildlife and refurbishing cabins. It’s hard work, and totally solitary—perfect to hide away from the Mexican drug cartels he betrayed back in Arizona. But when Rice finds the carcass ...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published June 12th 2018 by Ecco
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Bearskin, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Luke Johnson If they are mature. There's no sex but there a f-words, mentions of rape, and a lot of violence. I found book quite enjoyable but it does have it's…moreIf they are mature. There's no sex but there a f-words, mentions of rape, and a lot of violence. I found book quite enjoyable but it does have it's dark, violent moments. And I'm twice the age.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Jeffrey Keeten
”The giant trees were like dormant gods, vibrating with something he couldn’t name, not quite sentience, each one different from the others, each telling its own centuries-long story. On the forest floor, chestnut logs dead since the blight had rotted into chest-high berms soft with thick mosses, whispering quietly. Something called out and he turned to face a looming tulip tree, gnarled and bent like an old man, hollowed out by rot, lightning, ancient fires.

His skin tingled.”

 photo Tulip20Tree202_zpspz9btku8.jpg

Rice Moore felt t
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a literary humdinger of a thriller. Set in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia, Rice Moore is a man with a dangerous past. As the caretaker of a nature preserve he seems to have found the perfect place to hide. Living an isolated and almost hermetic existence with his past seemingly behind him, Moore becomes involved in trying to stop a bear poaching ring that is operating on the preserve. Sounds straightforward doesn’t it? It isn’t.

The writing is absolutely sublime...atmospheric, evo
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

this is a fine, meaty debut. it’s grit lit literary enough to drop words like “extispicy,” but gritty enough to include an anecdote* that made me, long leatherskinned against book violence, wince.

it takes place deep in the virginia part of the appalachians, where a man named rice moore has been working for six months, appreciating the seclusion of his new home:

No other human being lived within miles. Rice presided alone over seven thousand acres of private nature preserve: he wa
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is a literary humdinger of a thriller. Set in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia, Rice Moore is a man with a dangerous past. As the caretaker of a nature preserve he seems to have found the perfect place to hide from a drug cartel. Living an isolated and almost hermetic existence, Moore becomes a vigilante as he tries to stop a bear poaching ring operating on the preserve. Sounds straightforward, doesn’t it? It isn’t.

The writing is absolutely sublime....atmospheric, evocative and, at tim
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an awesome read. I live in Virginia so I had the added bonus that a good part of the book takes place there. I have had an odd fascination with bears. I actually self research interaction between bears and humans in my spare time because they fascinate me (I’m a research psychologist so I like to do research even in my spare time). So the bear aspect of the book was sad to read about (the hunting dogs also) but the different plots going on in Rice’s life really make this book. It was an ...more
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, book-books
A debut book. The storyline contained a great idea for a book. Rice worked for one of the Mexican cartels, turned on the cartel and staged his own disappearance to a remote game preserve to save himself. He finds peace in the preserve but that is interrupted when poachers begin killing bears.

Now, that is a simplified summary of the book, far more complex and yes, there is violence which is what I wanted. I wanted something like 'Sicario' to happen with the poachers! Some did, yes, but also a lot
This is not quite what I'd expected.
It's a genre blend of drug cartel thriller, Appalachian grit-lit with some paranormal/folkloric realism, and redemption tale but it's not mixed so well as to create a single, seamless story; there are definite chunks of genre floating throughout. Choking hazards abound.

Rice Moore/Rick Morton, 34, is on the run from Mexican drug cartels and is hiding as a caretaker for a large private preserve in the backwoods of Virginia.
The woman who was there before him, a
Diane S ☔
DNF at 35% Writing is good just having trouble connecting.
B.A. Brock
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oof. That was a good book. I would have skipped my day job for that one, if I wasn’t so poor.

A mix between Thoreau and Nevada Barr, ‘Bearskin’ was equally surreal and stone-cold present in the moment. In fact, I’m still not sure if our protagonist has a few screws loose or not. I’m thinking so.

Rice was relatable, despite his toxic masculinity and stupidity (see toxic masculinity for source of said stupidity). I liked that he was half shaman and scientist, a source of his irreconcilable self. I
My review for this book was published in the Feb. 15, 2018, edition of Library Journal:

On the lam from a drug cartel after they killed his girlfriend, biologist Rice Moore has gone off the grid in Virginia, finding work as a caretaker at the secluded Turk Mountain Preserve. The forest is off-limits to hunters, and Moore's primary job is to monitor the vast acreage for disturbances. It's lonely and exhausting work but exactly what Moore needs, until he discovers a bear carcass left behind by poac
Fred Shaw
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bearskin by James A. McLauglin

Rice Monroe is the caretaker at a privately funded nature preserve in the Virginia Appalachian mountains. He is taking over the job previously held by a Virginia Tech biology professor, Sara Birkeland. Rice has changed his name, and wants to remain below the radar because of his recent incarceration in Arizona. He was caught trafficking unlawful substances between Mexico and the US. The drug cartel tried unsuccessfully to silence him in his cell to prevent him from
Andy Weston
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
McLaughlin’s novel is set in rural Appalachian hills of Virginia and about illegal bear poaching. It’s one of a new batch of ‘eco-thrillers’ that seem to be marketed for this summer of reading, let’s hope it doesn’t become a new genre. Last week I read Soil by Jamie Kornegay , just slightly better, but still falling into the same traps as this.
Let me state clearly that I am a passionate environmentalist, and support pretty much anything that helps educate our society to look after our world be
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Gritty-ish Appalachian thriller with just enough violence and a lot of beautiful nature writing. My sweet spot for sure. When I saw reviews refer to "dream-like" writing I was almost spooked away from this one, but I wound up really enjoying the main character's fugue states -- they are peppered in there and quite effective. Excellent book.
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a terrific debut thriller set in Virginia Appalachia. Rugged, ecological and well-written.
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is a need for preservation, for self, for forest preserve, and for Bear. This narrative is tight and without wavering, on point, right in the story, having the reader in the scene and developments in hunt of the bear killer, suited in a a ghillie suite. A good mystery in Appalachian wilderness, a bad men hot on a mans trail kind of redemption tale. Pair this up with No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy and recent debut of Rough Animals by Rae DelBianco.
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Determined to lay low after a vicious encounter with the Sinaloa Mexican drug cartel, Rice Moore has re-surfaced in the wilds of Appalachia as a research biologist. Destined to lead a life of solitude to survive, Moore stumbles upon a mysterious mushroom hunter, who leads him to a series of bear carcasses. Violence soon ensues from all directions, forcing a desperate Moore into a dance sure to destroy him. James McLaughlin’s debut thriller “Bearskins” is a page-turner certain to keep you on the ...more
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, library, thriller
4.5 stars
Rice takes his job seriously. He’s taken the assignment of being the caretaker of the Turk Mountain Preserve for the isolation and the security that he hopes he will find up in the mountain ranges. He’s content doing physical labor and making his rounds, until a mushroom hunter finds his way onto the property. This hunter shows Rice the remains of the bear. Killed illegally on the protected property, Rice sets off on a mission to find the individual(s) responsible for this criminal act.
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The world around me disappeared as I read this book. I read roughly the first 20% on a Friday night and finished it in Saturday, primarily on my back patio on a beautiful summer day. Normally when I'm sitting out there, birds and squirrels won't come anywhere near me and yet I would occasionally look up, somewhat disoriented, and see them very close (at which point they'd run/fly away). I think they could tell I was far away (in a forest in western Virginia). So needless to say, Bearskin really ...more
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a lot more fun than I thought it would be - I picked it up just because it was available and I hadn’t reached my card limit at the library. It’s a debut which makes it even more impressive. It’s not easy to juggle the cartel, bear poachers, hostile neighbors, old growth forest that is decidedly creepy, feds running a sting operation, sleep deprived hallucinations that might be aided by suspect mushrooms handed by a mushroom picker who may or may not be a figment of said hallucinations, ...more
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. I loved the rugged setting and the emotions the writer evokes with his vivid description of the forest, the mountains, and the natural world of predator and prey. There's a lot of action, great dialogue and a feeling of unrest throughout. Main character Rice Moore, forest preserve caretaker, attempts to catch bear poachers while keeping his whereabouts unknown to a Mexican drug cartel who'd like to see him silenced. Hostile locals, haunting memories, hallucinations, and the natural wo ...more
Έτσι θα πέσω, με τα μούτρα
επειδή Απαλάχια.
Shane Douglas Keene
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: upcoming
Mini review: This book is fucking outstanding! Full review coming to Ink Heist soon.
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars rounded up for a fantastic debut novel

The combination of the protagonist hiding out in a nature preserve in rural Virginia and a mexican cartel betrayal backstory worked perfectly as nature and drug cartels are two of my favourite reading themes.

The story itself was a slow burn but a highly satisfying read the descriptions of the landscape, flora and fauna alone are worth the price of admission.

I'm sad that this is a standalone story but also optimistic that the author will be one to w
Jenny Jo Weir
This book was awesome! I loved the character development and the back story. I loved the unraveling of the plot and the progress followed throughout the whole thing. Very well put together and entertaining. I seriously enjoyed this one. Looking forward to more from this author.
I liked many of the aspects of this book including the basic plot line and setting - a young man, trying to hide from his past, takes the job of caretaker at a secluded, private nature preserve in the mountains of Virginia. But something wasn't sitting right with me and I kept putting it down and then picking it up again. Forced my way through with a bit of skimming so I had to take off a star because it was such an effort.
Jun 22, 2018 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: PW summer 2018
Shelves: audio
This is such an interesting and different story that I thoroughly enjoyed it. It opens up with Rice working solitarily in a forest in Virginia. He is the caretaker of the privately owned land. He is supposed to protect the land and keep it safe. He soon finds a dead bear that has clearly been hunted and much of its remains have been purposefully picked through and items removed. He soon discovers why but is determined to find out who. This leads in on a hunt. He also has a past and is escaping h ...more
Jun 24, 2018 rated it liked it
A former drug mule hides out from a Mexican cartel with a new name and a job in far-off, rural Virginia as mountain range caretaker. He frequently has trouble distinguishing hallucination from reality as he searches for bear poachers and the men who'd hurt his predecessor.

I was beyond bored most of the way through, and kept putting the book down in favor of other entertainment.

3 stars.
Krissy Neddo
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Reminds me of CJ Box and Joseph Heywood books and Nick Petrie's Burning Bright. The border crossing chapters remind me of Tricia Field's Josie Grey series. Not an edge of your seat thriller. If you want a backwoods thriller, read The Marsh King's Daughter by Dionne.
Looking forward to the next book!
It is astonishing that this is a 'debut' novel. McLaughlin has seemingly stepped out of the gate as fully formed mature writer.

I can't say enough good things about this debut. McLaughlin has woven a narrative with strands that appear at odds with one another. A bio-scientist who gets involved with a Mexican drug cartel who is knowledgeable of under cover sleuthing activities (though he fails at this occasionally, which is surprisingly realistic as well), and is passionate about trying to sav
Nancy McFarlane
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bearskin is not a typical action filled thriller. It is a beautifully written literary adventure set in a pristine area of Appalachian Virginia. The action, while slow at times, builds into something powerful and intense by the end. Rice Moore is trying to get his life back together after a vicious run in with the Sinaloa Mexican cartel. He is a biologist who cares deeply about the environment and the animals in his job as caretaker of a private Virginia nature reserve. Rice must figure out how ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Fiction Deals

  • Mercy Among the Children
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Darkness There: Selected Tales by Edgar Allan Poe [Kindle in Motion]
    $1.99 $0.99
  • An Empty Cup
    $3.99 $1.99
  • I Like You Just Fine When You're Not Around
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Abby's Journey
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Underground River
    $12.99 $2.99
  • The Word Game
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Fraulein M.
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Sister of Mine
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Bury What We Cannot Take
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Chomp
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Searching for Grace Kelly
    $15.99 $1.99
  • Bricking It
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Fifth of March: A Story of the Boston Massacre (Great Episodes)
    $8.99 $2.99
  • Starfish
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Thunder and Rain
    $9.99 $2.99
  • All Grown Up
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Light of Hidden Flowers
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Olive's Ocean
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Ecstasy
    $13.99 $1.99
  • The Elephant Keeper's Daughter
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Virtues of Oxygen
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Home to Harmony (Harmony #1)
    $11.14 $1.99
  • Dog Crazy
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Towers of Tuscany
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Noticer: Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Who We Were Before
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Reluctant Midwife (Hope River, #2)
    $10.49 $1.99
  • Sin No More (Reverend Curtis Black)
    $10.39 $1.99
  • The List
    $7.99 $2.99
  • Lost & Found
    $5.74 $1.99
  • A Watershed Year
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Savage
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Designer
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Novice: A Story of True Love
    $10.74 $1.99
  • Go Away Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Leaving of Things
    $4.49 $1.99
  • Train I Ride
    $6.99 $1.99
  • We'll Always Have Paris: Stories
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Hidden Flower
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Greyhound
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Heart Mender: A Story of Second Chances
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Lisette's List
    $11.99 $1.99
  • This Burns My Heart
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Journeys of Socrates
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Annie on My Mind
    $9.99 $1.20
  • An Absent Mind
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Book of Ruth
    $18.99 $1.99
  • Smoke
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Sisterhood of Blackberry Corner
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Covenant
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Digging In
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
    $11.99 $12.99
  • The Traveling Vampire Show
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Long Way Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Going Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • In Between Days
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Girl in the Glass
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Super Sad True Love Story
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Prayers and Lies
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Go the F**k to Sleep
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Fat Chance
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Just a Couple of Days
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Boleyn Inheritance (The Tudor Court, #3)
    $12.99 $2.99
  • The Girls from Corona del Mar
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Daughter of Union County
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Fighting Ground
    $6.49 $1.99
  • Delicious!
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Embers
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Sugar Men
    $3.99 $1.99
  • You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down: Stories
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Last Storyteller: A Novel Of Ireland
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Vengeance Road
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Ungifted
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Julie of the Wolves
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Mrs. Saint and the Defectives
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Stiltsville: A Novel
    $10.99 $1.99
  • To the Bright Edge of the World
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Patriots
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Flicker of Old Dreams
    $9.99 $1.99
  • All the Good Parts
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Food of Love
    $3.99 $1.99
  • So Long, See You Tomorrow
    $11.99 $2.99
  • A Scattered Life
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Every Ugly Word
    $3.99 $1.99
  • A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Desert God (Ancient Egypt, #5)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy (Bloody Jack, #1)
    $8.99 $2.99
  • The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds (Malayan #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • An Amish Buggy Ride
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Old Yeller
    $6.99 $1.99
  • The Secret Healer (The Secret Healer #1)
    $3.49 $0.99
  • Elizabeth Street
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Gates of Rome (Emperor, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Unkillable Kitty O'Kane
    $4.99 $1.99
  • It Is Well
    $4.99 $1.99
  • A Sinful Calling (Reverend Curtis Black #13)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • On a Cold Dark Sea
    $4.99 $1.99
  • My Lady Viper (Tales from the Tudor Court #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Kings of Broken Things
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Edward Adrift
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Restaurant Critic's Wife
    $3.99 $1.99
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“He found it puzzling that so many rural people were hostile to, even terrified of, the place where they lived. It wasn't just that hard-working country folk had no time for the precious concerns of the effete urban environmentalists, what amazed Rice was how you could spend your whole life physically immersed in a particular ecological system and yet remain blinded to it by superstition, tradition, prejudice. Out west, it was ranchers' holy war on predators and their veneration of Indo-European domestic animals they husbanded on land too dry to support them. Here in the Appalachians, you saw rugged country men who refused to walk in the woods all summer because they were scared of snakes.” 1 likes
“hump of his body, a thousand bees orbiting his head like electrons. Then he” 0 likes
More quotes…