Mammoth: A Novel

Mammoth: A Novel

by Douglas Perry


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The small, isolated town of Mammoth View is hit with terrifying news on a summer morning: a mysterious, large-scale attack is unfolding in the surrounding forest. It’s not clear what happened, but it’s bad. And it’s not over. As residents flee in panic, Police Chief Hicks and his deputy set off into the woods to investigate.

The attack seems like the perfect coincidence for Billy Lane. Looking for the biggest score of his career, he targets the local bank. The robbery does not go well—and the aftermath is even worse, leading the robbers to a nearby running camp for teen girls.

Over the next twenty-four hours, chaos descends on Mammoth View as Billy, the police officers, and a courageous teen athlete at the camp face down murderous strangers and ghosts from their pasts—all leading back to what really happened outside of town.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780997237719
Publisher: Amberjack Publishing
Publication date: 09/06/2016
Pages: 266
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Douglas Perry is an award-winning writer and editor whose work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago magazine, The Oregonian, Tennis, and many other publications. He is the author of two nonfiction books and co-author of another. The Wall Street Journal called Perry’s The Girls of Murder City “a sexy, swaggering, historical tale.” His biography of Eliot Ness, wrote the Christian Science Monitor, is “smart, authoritative, and bristling with challenges to the status quo.”

Read an Excerpt


By Douglas Perry

Amberjack Publishing

Copyright © 2016 Douglas Perry
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-9972377-1-9


Tori woke with a ringing in her ears. She wondered if she was getting a cold.

She rolled to her feet anyway and pulled on a pair of shorts. She shook out her limbs in the dark, squeezed her fingers into fists. Like always in the morning, she felt boneless and fuzzy, lost somewhere inside her body. A floorboard burped under her step. Liesel, in the bed next to hers, shifted like an old fishing boat. Tori tiptoed past her, slipped into her shoes. She eased open the cabin door and was off, running down the gravel embankment with quick, scissoring strides, disappearing into the woods.

The rush of air into her lungs shocked her. At first she thought she was going to gag, but then something inside her adjusted, something mysterious, and her breathing eased. She looked up. The night still grabbed at her arms and chest, but beyond the treetops, way out in space, the horizon shimmered like tinsel.

Tori wanted to love this early morning ritual. She wanted it to give her spiritual insights, open her up to nature, her body, and endless possibility. Instead, she felt lonesome. She felt small.

The morning dug deeper into Tori's lungs, a familiar, annoying burn. She picked up her pace. She shot between two trees and into an opening in the forest. All the other kids in camp stuck strictly to the program. They didn't work any harder than the coaches made them, which was plenty hard enough. But Tori knew she was behind the curve. She'd become serious about running only in the past year, and she was sixteen already. Her father had secured a spot for her in this girls' training camp outside Mammoth View, up in the Sierra Nevadas, about two hundred miles from their home in Bakersfield. It was the only running camp in the country for girls, and she'd been stunned when her father proposed it. She'd wanted to go to camp, just normal summer camp, since she was twelve, and her dad had never even considered it. He expected her to work during the summers. Slinging pizza. Hawking newspapers. Anything. Got to do your part for the family fund, he said. Now, out of nowhere, he wanted her to do this special, two-week sleep-away program, and insisted on driving her up there himself.

When she asked why he'd changed his mind about camp, he said he recognized her potential, that was all. Thought she could be good enough for a college scholarship. Good enough for the Olympics one day. With her dad's sudden enthusiasm, she had started to believe it really was possible. She couldn't be ready in time for the Moscow Games — she'd be just nineteen, and that was going to be Mary Decker's Olympics — but by 1984 she would be for sure. Decker, the little pigtailed teen who'd become famous a couple of years ago after winning the 800-meters race at a U.S.-Soviet meet in Minsk, fascinated Tori. If Decker could outrun those big Russian women, maybe Tori could too. She would work hard at Spritle's Racers, she'd promised her father, harder than she'd ever worked in her life. But hard work was only part of it; she knew that much. Did she have enough of that special sauce, enough extra red blood cells, to be really good? Good like the Kalenjin, whose bone marrow could send a rocket to the moon? She didn't know. No one knew yet even if Mary Decker could run with the Kalenjin.

Tori slowed as she moved into the center of the clearing, gazing skyward at an array of stars being blanked out by the morning. She thought about how everyone loved her father. People lit up when they saw Billy Lane coming. Slapped him on the back, ready for a quip, ready to laugh. But he was rarely Happy Billy for her. He gave her this hard, disapproving look all the time, like he was a hungry hawk ready to swoop down, and she was just this small, scrawny mouse, an unworthy snack. Tori thought she heard something — a hawk or a mouse, some kind of animal — and she picked up her pace again. Still in the clearing, still looking up at the sky, she thought how the world seemed too big out here, bigger than it should be. Her ears pulsed, the pressure jostling about inside her, thumping against the sides of her head. She stumbled, turning her foot awkwardly. She caught herself, but it didn't matter. She kept stumbling and turning, finally dropping to the ground with a bang. She held on tight.

By the time Tori made it back to the camp, she had calmed down. They'd all been told on the first day that the Mammoth Mountain area was geologically active and that an earthquake was always a possibility. This one hadn't lasted very long. Thirty seconds, maybe a little more. No big deal.

There was no damage at the camp. No trees or buildings had fallen down. Tori stepped into her cabin and looked around. Her book — Jane Austen's Persuasion — had slid to the end of her bed. That was about it. Her lump of dirty clothes on the floor had been undisturbed by the tectonic ruckus.

Everyone was in the dining hall having breakfast. Tori sat at a large table with her training group. No one moved over for her, so she teetered on the end of the bench, one buttock floating free in space. "You're all still alive," she joked.

"Not for much longer," Liesel said, dramatically holding her nose. "Go take a shower, Tor!"

Everyone laughed, the sound exploding over the table and bouncing off the windows. Tori had grown accustomed to the teasing. She was the new girl. Almost all of the others had been in the camp last summer. Tori didn't mind the teasing that much, but her face and neck still flared into a crimson rash every time. She hated that she was so transparent. She reached across the table, grabbed Liesel's cup of orange juice, and hawked a loogie up from her toes.

* * *

The quake had knocked out the phone line to the camp, though no one had noticed yet. The coaches discouraged parents from calling. Isolation was a powerful motivator. That's how it was in Kenya and Ethiopia, after all. Coach Prinzano, like Tori's high school coach, said that if you were going to be a real competitive runner, you had to think and act and live like an East African, like a member of the Kalenjin tribe. You had to force your body to rewire itself, if it could. That's why Spritle's Racers was at high altitude, more than seven thousand feet up the mountain.

After breakfast and a round of stretching, the seventeen teenaged runners broke up into their training cliques. Tori, Sofia, and Summer would spend the afternoon together doing 800-meter repeats on the track, synchronizing their strides and pushing themselves to the brink. But first they would head off on an eight-mile run along the outer bank with Mary Bowen and her group. Tori enjoyed the slow group runs more than anything else in the program. They provided a sense of community, rather than competition, among the girls. When their various warm-ups were done, seven of them headed out along the nature path, keeping their elbows in tight but letting their legs casually swing like hammocks. It was a challenge — alternately frustrating and satisfying — to hold themselves back, to keep their form while lazing along like old ladies.

The girls chatted during these runs — Liesel, for one, babbled constantly, about the University of Oregon's interest in her, about the hair on her boyfriend's back, about her favorite pair of short-shorts and what she wanted to eat for dinner — but Tori preferred to keep to herself, her head slightly down, watching the dirt path unrolling before her. She liked the way her insides felt when she ran. She liked how her body knew exactly what to do — her left knee springing up just as her right heel rolled forward and the toes pushed off — without her brain having anything to do with it. It was a relief, she thought, to not think at all. She had worked herself into a pleasant, numb state when Sofia nudged her.

"Look at that," she said. "What is that?"

Tori squinted into the sun. She didn't see anything and shrugged.

Sofia pointed again. The girl was a wispy thing even for this crowd, Tori thought. Sofia's black hair bounced. Her thin, coppery arm refracted the sun as she strained to maintain the alignment of her outstretched finger. More than any of them, Sofia seemed to love to run, just the pure act of it. Mile after mile. Liesel had commented on it one night while lying in bed. She joked that it was because Sofia's mother had run across the border when she was pregnant with her.

Tori followed the finger, squinting at the trees, the sky-glare, the precipitous drop beyond the edge of the path. This time a blob also caught her eye, something across the ravine. It was moving with them.

"Do you see it?" Sofia asked.


"Is it a coyote?"

Tori stared across the gulch. She'd never seen a coyote, not in real life. She thought it looked like a bear ... but it couldn't be, right?

She tried to squeeze more focus out of her gaze, but no dice. It was too far away. It was just a blob. A blob moving along with them, like a speck in the corner of your eye.

"I don't know," she said. "But I'm glad it's over there."

Sofia didn't like that answer. "Hey —" she said, reaching out and tapping the shoulder jouncing ahead of her.

The back of a hand whacked Sofia's wrist, causing her to jump in fright.

The shoulder and the hand belonged to Mary Bowen — Coach P. always used her full name when talking to or about her, no one knew why. What everyone did know was that Mary Bowen was the queen of the camp, a junior trainer after two summers as the coach's star pupil. Except she didn't really care about helping the other girls train. Keen to start her freshman year at the University of Arizona, she cared about her splits. She cared about her regimen. She cared about her long, perfect legs, which she carefully shaved in the shower every morning until there was no hot water for anyone else. She cared about herself.

All the girls admired her anyway. Mary Bowen was a jock through and through, with the rolling stride of a cocky drunk and the broad, indecent shoulders of a mannequin. She would chat now and again during slow runs, agreeing with or Hmmming at whatever Liesel was saying, but she was disciplined about her form. She did not want to be touched or bumped.

"Mary ..." Sofia said, her quiet voice now a little ragged. "Mary, what is that?"

"What?" Mary Bowen said. She was looking straight ahead, concentrating on her feet gobbling up the path.

"Over there."

Everyone followed Sofia's finger across the ravine.

"There," Sofia said.

The blob was still moving along with them, flashing in the sunlight. Tori strained to put it in perspective with its surroundings. It was big, she knew that much.

"What is that?" Liesel parroted.

"Is it a bear?" Tori asked, daring to offer her opinion.

The girls had unconsciously picked up their pace. Tori's jaw rattled with every footfall. This wasn't a slow run anymore. They had to be doing a five-minute mile all of a sudden — while craning their necks, looking over and around each other. Mary watched the blob just like the rest of them, her eyes like gun slits. The others repeatedly turned to look at Mary, waiting for a sign. Should they run faster? Should they dash into the woods?

Mary hooked her thumbs on her hips and broke stride. Sofia spun to avoid a collision. The girl in the lead, Robin, flapped her arms like a goony bird to arrest her momentum. As the younger girls caught their breath and gathered together, resting on each other's shoulders and backs, Mary stepped to the edge of the path, squinting across the ravine. The blob had stopped too. It wavered like a mirage. All at once, it disappeared.

Mary Bowen waited, chewing on her lower lip, her teeth worrying into a small tear in the fleshy center. "It's nothing," she finally said. "A local. There's a lot of rednecks around here. The idiot just fell over. He's drunk." She looked at her stopwatch. "Now our time is ruined."


"How's it look out there?" Billy called.

Sam, peering through the glass in the front door, grinned. "Not many cars left on the street. People are getting out of Dodge."

Billy Lane couldn't believe their luck. The diversions — especially the big one, the one they'd all laughed about — had worked better than they possibly could have imagined. And the earthquake — well, that was just pure serendipity. A nice little kick-start to the plan. He checked his watch: he'd cleaned out the vault in four minutes flat.

He tripped over the bank manager on the way out. The banker kept his hands on his head, his face pressed into the floor. Billy noticed that the man had balled up his necktie into a little pillow for his ear. He considered what to do with him. The man had seen his face. But after Billy shaved and cut his hair, would the old guy be able to recognize him, if it came to that? Would there be even a flicker?

The whole thing had gone so easy — too easy. The public panic had started before they even reached Second Avenue. When the first bomb went off, three blocks from the bank, people really got moving. Cars jerked away from the curb and screeched around corners. People ran. All headed out of the little downtown. Jackson had been able to park right in front of the bank; he wouldn't have to circle the block. By the time Billy and Sam walked in, only the manager and one teller were still in the place. The guard had already run into the street. The teller smiled when they came in, which seemed odd. Sam, wearing his big fake nose and badger-hair mustache, walked right up to her and punched her in the face. She hit the floor as if she'd fallen from a plane, her nose lying across her cheek like roadkill. Sam hit her again with his rifle as she lay sprawled on the floor. She wasn't going to remember the past month, let alone the man who'd decked her. Seeing this, the manager threw his hands in the air like a football referee. He opened up the cash drawers without complaint, whispering please please over and over as if wooing a lover. All Billy could think was: it wasn't supposed to be this easy.

Billy hadn't done a bank job since Seattle. Little T was, what, four years old? Five? Becky's sister had driven in from Tucson to look after the kid for the week. Becks wouldn't leave her with just anybody. They headed to LAX dressed for the Yukon. What did they know? They had lived in the Southwest their whole lives; they had no idea what to expect in Seattle. Billy could still picture Becks on the street outside the First National, wearing that white sweater that showed off her shape. She was the only diversion they'd needed. They would have gotten away free and clear if he'd offed the guard, but of course he hadn't. He'd tied him up instead. The man had somehow pulled himself loose from the chair and stumbled outside right when Becky was running for the car. The guard plugged her with a single shot in the back. Pure luck. They had to leave her there, bleeding out in the street, screaming, the sound of sirens in the distance. When Wilson swung into a turn half a block away, Billy vomited all over himself.

All these years later, he still didn't know how he managed to brazen it out when he showed up at the hospital later, how he convinced the cops that Becks had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time, a tourist out looking for the Space Needle while her useless husband was taking a piss in the park. Maybe the coppers had bought the story because they wanted to believe they lived in a city that was a tourist destination. He went straight from the hospital to the airport, hopped the next flight back to LA. He never talked to Wilson again: Wilson, who had the old school chum working at the bank; Wilson, who assured them it would be a piece of cake.

Billy put his Browning Hi-Power to the manager's head. His hand shook as if it were taking control of its own destiny. The bank manager, recognizing what was happening, also came to life. He choked on a sob, twisted his head to look at Billy and plead his case. "No, please," he tried to say, but he swallowed the words. Snot fell out of the man's nose. Billy closed his eyes, put his left hand on top of the right one, and pulled the trigger. The report threw the gun toward the ceiling, wrenching Billy's shoulder. Brain matter sprayed across the floor. Billy refused to look. He stood and turned away before opening his eyes. First time for everything, he thought. Better safe than sorry. He'd learned that the hard way.


Excerpted from Mammoth by Douglas Perry. Copyright © 2016 Douglas Perry. Excerpted by permission of Amberjack Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Mammoth: A Novel 2.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
JBronder More than 1 year ago
We start Mammoth off with several things happening at the same time. An earthquake followed by some kind of attack has most of the residents fleeing Mammoth. The few remaining people go about trying to figure out what is going on, robbing the local bank, and dealing with a girl running camp in the mountains. The story rotated between several different people as we trying to figure out what is happening. After reading Mammoth, I think that it started out as a great mystery. Unfortunately the more characters we meet, we start learning about their hopes, dreams, past and present. It quickly became a convoluted, mixed up mess as we start studying the characters than really moving along with the story. As for the story, it is fleshed out with the different characters so it does take a while to get to the end. Unfortunately it gets thrown to the side and partially completed. There are a lot of loose ends and I admit that I was let down by the ending. Over all I liked where Mammoth started out. I think if Douglas Perry would have kept it simpler the book would have been better. I received Mammoth for free from PR by the Book in exchange for an honest review.
SheTreadsSoftly More than 1 year ago
Mammoth by Douglas Perry is a so-so novel about a town-wide panic and the aftermath. Something happens in Mammoth View at the beginning, a small earthquake and then some kind of attack that resulted in everyone fleeing the town in a panic. We don't know what the attack was until the end. Now there are just a few people left. Police Chief Hicks and his deputy are trying to figure out what happened, Billy Lane and his 2 cohorts take advantage of the situation and rob the bank. The two ne'er-do-well Johnson brothers also take advantage of the empty town. King, a radio DJ is leaving town with his girlfriend. And, instigated by Billy, the teen girls running camp up in the mountains evacuates in a rush, but leaves one of the campers behind, Billy's daughter, Tori. Over the next 24 hours chaos ensues, bringing out the worst in people, and perhaps the best in those that endure the rampage of the brothers. Mammoth is technically well written and contains a whole lot of character development and backstory for multiple characters. The novel is told through short chapters that feature the point of view of several different characters. It is a quick read. I agree with the reviewers who have said that the focus of his novel got away from Perry. It was about the disappearance of people who all suddenly and swiftly left town, that's intriguing on its own and what led me to read it. Add to it the bank robbery, Tori and the teen girls at the running camp, the DJ, the bad-news brothers.... and suddenly the novel morphed into something else. I could roll with that, but it seemed to swiftly and repeatedly change its focus. Okay, I decided, maybe it was just a character study of these people, but, then, no, it's about something else now. Finally, the disappearance is nothing and felt gimmicky and I was extremely disappointed when it was explained at the end. Next, there is a whole lot of running up and down the mountain, running here, running there, running, running. I understand that Tori is a runner and will be running, but exactly how much blindly running to and fro would people be doing under these circumstances. Yes, run away from bad guys, but, no, do not run down to an empty town after you've been told everyone left it. Disclosure: My advanced reading copy was courtesy of the publisher for review purposes.
CathyGeha More than 1 year ago
* Thank you to NetGalley and Amberjack Publishing for an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review * Told from the perspective of many varied individuals in or near Mammoth View, California this is a story of their world gone wrong and how they deal with what is happening. That said, I did not really relate to or like any of the characters in the story and wish that I could have. I thought the ending iffy at best and wonder at the naivety of the people in the town even if this took place sometime in the past when it was more difficult to get information easily. Mass hysteria is possible but I am not sure it would unfold as it did in this book. I was at times confused and ultimately believe that I was really expecting something else. I was looking forward to reading this book since I have been hiking and skiing in the area long ago. I guess I should say I was underwhelmed and wished for more but will also say that there are no doubt others who will really enjoy this book. 2-3 Stars