Some suspension of disbelief is necessary to appreciate Lost Canyon, from the moment a park ranger tells the quartet of Los Angeles-based hikers their planned route is closed due to ﬁre and he sets them up with a hand-drawn map for a trail elsewhere in the Sierra Nevada — one that supposedly hasn’t been accessed in years. The book is prefaced by a quote from James Dickey’s Deliverance and seems to be in part a retelling of that story with a more diverse cast of characters. The organizer Tracy, a ﬁtness trainer, organized the backpacking trip with several of her clients; the area has personal signiﬁcance for her from hearing her Japanese-American grandfather’s tales of slipping away from Manzanar’s internment camp. Her three guests don’t know each other very well and each come from fairly diﬀerent backgrounds, so they privately consider a fair amount of initial doubt of their own and each other’s abilities as they make their way further from their homes.
As hinted by that ﬁrst, heavy-handed foreboding, the group discovers the area is not as isolated as they thought when the wander oﬀ route and straight into trouble, setting oﬀ an extended chase scene. There are a few more not-quite-believable points in the story, including an open-ended conclusion for one of the characters that felt very unsatisfying and not really earned by the writing.