The third book on my Edgar Award Nominees reading project.
It's a harrowing tale of two Dartmouth College chums, Jack and Wynn, who decide to canoe the remote Maskwa River in northern Canada. (Semi-fictional apparently, but a little Googling says that it's based on the Winisk River,) "Remote" means: no authorities or facilities until you make it to the Cree Indian village of Wapahk on the shores of Hudson Bay.
The lads are well-prepared, but things start going wrong. For one thing, a forest fire is bearing down on the river. And although it's remote, they run into people. First, a couple of asshole Texan men; then, they overhear a dreadful argument between a man and a woman. Jack and Wynn are as well-prepared as the very best Boy Scouts, but nobody could be prepared for the subsequent dreadful events.
The author, Peter Heller, is both a canoeist and a poet. His descriptions of the trip are meticulously detailed, down to a precise list of the provisions and equipment the boys are carrying. The style is unusual for a thriller, showing the author's poetic streak: lots of unexpected, interesting descriptions with unusual vividness.