by Lisa Moore

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“Outsanding . . . Surprising and superb . . . A literary adventure story . . . Gripping, detailed, and wholly convincing . . . A supremely human book . . . combining the complexity of the best literary fiction with the page-turning compulsive readability of a thriller.”—National Post

"In the creation of David Slaney, Lisa Moore brings


“Outsanding . . . Surprising and superb . . . A literary adventure story . . . Gripping, detailed, and wholly convincing . . . A supremely human book . . . combining the complexity of the best literary fiction with the page-turning compulsive readability of a thriller.”—National Post

"In the creation of David Slaney, Lisa Moore brings us an unforgettable character, embodying the exuberance and energy of misspent youth. Caught is a propulsive and harrowing read."—Patrick deWitt, author of The Sisters Brothers

Lisa Moore, “Canada Reads” latest winner and a New Yorker Best Book of the Year author, is known for subtly crafted narratives that are at once sharp and impressionistic. Through an acute ear for dialogue and pared down prose, Moore's characters are startlingly present and instantly persuasive. In her new novel, Caught, Moore’s dangerously appealing new protagonist is unlike any she's imagined before: a modern Billy the Kid, a swaggering folk-hero-in-the making who busts out of prison to embark on one last great heist and win back the woman he loves.

Caught begins with a prison break. Twenty-five-year-old David Slaney, locked up on charges of marijuana possession, has escaped his cell and sprinted to the highway. There, he is picked up by a friend of his sister’s and transported to a strip bar where he survives his first night on the run. But evading the cops isn’t his only objective; Slaney intends to track down his old partner, Hearn, and get back into the drug business. Along the way, Slaney’s fugitive journey across Canada rushes vibrantly to life as he visits an old flame and adopts numerous guises to outpace authorities: hitchhiker, houseguest, student, lover. When finally he reunites with Hearn just steps ahead of a detective hell-bent on making a high-profile arrest, their scheme sends Slaney to Mexico, Colombia, and back again on an epic quest fueled by luck, charm, and unbending conviction.

Moore's most plot-driven novel to date, Caught is a thrillingly charged escapade that thrums with energy and suspense and deftly captures a moment in the late 1970s before the almost folkloric glamour surrounding pot smuggling turned violent. Ripe with bravado, love, ambition, and folly, Caught is about trust and deceit, about the risks we take for the lives we want and the mistakes we can’t outrun.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in the late 1970s, Moore’s (February) latest is a smartly crafted novel about David Slaney and his two goals: first, to break out of prison and not get caught; and second, to move millions of dollars’ worth of marijuana from Colombia to Canada and not get caught. It will be his second attempt, and he’s sure that he’s going to be successful this time. After escaping from prison in Nova Scotia, Slaney must travel to Montreal and reach his close friend and partner in crime, Hearn, to finalize their plan. The book’s title, of course, brashly reveals the ending, yet Moore lets the plot unfold little by little, and it’s gripping. And Moore’s prose is as engaging as her skillful plotting. Dialogue is at once crystal clear and elliptical, and descriptive passages pulse with life, as in this sentence about mosquitoes: “They settled on his skin and put their fine things into him and they were lulled and bloated and thought themselves sexy and near death.” (Feb.)
From the Publisher


“Moore combines the propulsive storytelling of a beach-book thriller with the skilled use of language and penetrating insights of literary fiction. She pulls it off seamlessly, creating a vivid, compulsively readable tale that will have you searching out the Newfoundlander’s previous works—including 2005’s Giller Prize– nominated Alligator and 2010’s February, which won the “Canada Reads” competition—if you aren’t already familiar with them.”—Penthouse

“Propulsive, adrenalin-drenched…[infused with] searingly fresh language and sharply drawn characters… This foray into so-called genre fiction by an exemplar of so-called literary fiction sacrifices nothing in terms of style.” —Leah Hager Cohen, The Globe and Mail

“Outsanding . . . Surprising and superb . . . A literary adventure story . . . Gripping, detailed, and wholly convincing . . . A supremely human book . . . combining the complexity of the best literary fiction with the page-turning compulsive readability of a thriller.”—National Post

"In the creation of David Slaney, Lisa Moore brings us an unforgettable character, embodying the exuberance and energy of misspent youth. Caught is a propulsive and harrowing read."—Patrick deWitt, author of The Sisters Brothers

“Exhilarating… a memorably oddball and alluring novel that’s simultaneously breezy, taut, funny, and insightful.” —The Vancouver Sun

“A pleasure to read… Moore’s mastery of language and image…sets her apart.” –Quill and Quire

“Witty, retrospective, eloquent and exciting.”—Chatelaine

"[Lisa Moore’s] written a new kind of legend for a new Newfoundland."—Reader's Digest

"This is an author who grips you with her impeccable use of language. The novel walks a great line between paperback levity and psychological intelligence—exactly what you want in a summer read."—Maclean's

"Even we, as readers, will be caught by the timbre and skill of Moore’s storytelling and her careful sculpting of characters."—Chronicle Herald

"[T]his novel that is rife with realness, and beauty, and tension; so much it hurts, in the best possible way."—Newfoundland Quarterly

"As trippy, mellow, and revelatory as Hearn’s weed, Caught takes pleasure from rewriting crime formulas and gives pleasure in doing so."—The Vancouver Sun

"Lisa Moore’s new book is a beautiful piece of writing…" —Winnipeg Free Press

“Exhilarating… a memorably oddball and alluring novel that’s simultaneously breezy, taut, funny, and insightful.” —The Vancouver Sun

“A pleasure to read… Moore’s mastery of language and image…sets her apart.” –Quill and Quire

“Witty, retrospective, eloquent and exciting.”—Chatelaine

Kirkus Reviews
An escaped prisoner, locked up for a drug deal gone bad, hopes for a few lucky breaks across Canada and South America. The hero of the latest novel from Moore (February, 2009, etc.) is David Slaney, who has a quintessential case of warring instincts. As he breaks out of a Nova Scotian prison (how isn't quite clear), he wants to build a stable, upstanding life for himself, but to do it, he needs to cross Canada and catch up with his former (only lightly punished) partner and arrange one more drug deal. As he hitchhikes and hustles his way west, Moore deploys clipped yet lyrical prose to depict Slaney's past failures, both in terms of romance and in marijuana smuggling, and introduces Patterson, the undercover detective tasked with tracking him down. Given Patterson's ease in staying two steps behind his prey (not to mention the novel's title), Slaney's fate is never really in doubt. If this book lacks the suspense of a traditional thriller, though, at moments, it smartly captures the sense of alienation that comes with life on the lam. And the book picks up some energy as Slaney journeys to Colombia for a drug run with a drunk captain, his impossibly pretty girlfriend in tow. Moore's skill at describing Slaney in isolation tends to falter when he interacts with others; the dialogue is generally flat or, in the case of the woman David left behind, overly dramatic. Moore is an established literary novelist taking a stab at a more plot-driven tale, and it's not a mistake in itself that this doesn't hew to convention. But the book never quite reconciles Moore's efforts to complicate Slaney's character with the stock feel of the surrounding characters and plot lines. An interesting but often ungainly attempt to blend mood piece and page-turner.
Library Journal
★ 01/01/2014
Childhood friends David Slaney and Brian Hearn grow up in 1970s Newfoundland to become college slackers, potheads, and drug runners—unsuccessful drug runners, that is. On their first big score, they're nabbed and arrested on their return from Colombia. While Slaney gets jail time, Hearn manages to skip out on bail, flee across the country, and change his identity. Four years later, Hearn concocts a bold new scheme. He arranges Slaney's escape from jail and pulls together a team of old friends and new investors for one more big operation. One of the "investors" is undercover detective Patterson, an overweight and underappreciated Toronto cop who hopes that, with the assistance of brand-new satellite surveillance, this case will be his big career break. VERDICT Moore, recent winner of Canada Reads and author of February, a New Yorker Best Book of the Year, provides a rollicking ride to an outcome that is never really in doubt. With pitch-perfect dialog and endearingly human characters, this finalist for Canada's prestigious Scotiabank Giller Prize is a fantastic read. [See Prepub Alert, 8/12/13.]—Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont.

Product Details

Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt


Slaney broke out of the woods and skidded down a soft embankment to the side of the road. There was nothing but forest on both sides of the asphalt as far as he could see. He thought it might be three in the morning and he was about two miles from the prison. It had taken an hour to get through the woods.

He had crawled under the chain link fence around the yard and through the long grass on the other side. He had run hunched over and he’d crawled on his elbows and knees, pulling himself across the ground, and he’d stayed still, with his face in the earth, while the searchlight arced over him. At the end of the field was a steep hill of loose shale and the rocks had clattered away from his shoes. The soles of Slaney’s shoes were tan-coloured and slippery. The tan had worn off and a smooth patch of black rubber showed on the bottom of each shoe. He’d imagined the soles lit up as the searchlight hit them. He had on the orange coveralls. They had always been orange but when everybody was wearing them they were less orange.

For an instant the perfect oval of hard light had contained him like the shell of an egg and then he’d gone animal numb and cringing, a counter-intuitive move, the prison psychotherapist might have said, if they were back in her office discussing the break – she talked slips and displacement, sublimation and counter-intuition and allowed for an inner mechanism he could not see or touch but had to account for - then the oval slid him back into darkness and he charged up the hill again.

Near the top, the shale had given way to a curve of reddish topsoil with an overhang of long grass and shrub. There was a ringer washer turned on its side, a bald white, and a cracked yellow beef bucket.

Slaney had grabbed at a tangled clot of branches but it had come loose in his hand. Then he’d dug the toe of his shoe deep and found purchase and hefted his chest over the prickly grass overhang and rolled on top of it.

There he’d been, flat on his back, chest heaving, looking at the stars. It was as far as he had been from the Springhill Penitentiary since the doors of that institution admitted him four years before. It was not far enough. He’d heaved himself off the ground and started running.

This was Nova Scotia and it was June 14th,1978. Slaney would be twenty-five years old the very next day. The night of his escape would come back to him, moments of lit intensity, for the rest of his life. He saw himself on that hill in the brilliant spot of the swinging searchlight, the orange of his own back, as it might have appeared to the guards in the watchtower, had they glanced that way.

The Long Night

Slaney stood on the highway and the stillness of the moonlit night settled over him. The evening thumped down and Slaney ran for all he was worth because it seemed foolhardy to stand still.

Then it seemed foolhardy to not be still.

He felt he had to be still in order to listen. He was listening with all his might. He knew the squad cars were coming and there would be dogs. He accepted the unequivocal fact that there was nothing he could do now but wait. A fellow prisoner named Harold had arranged a place for him. It was a room over a bar, several hours from the penitenary, if Slaney happened to get that far. Harold said that the bar belonged to his grandmother. They had a horsehair dance floor and served the best fish and chips in Nova Scotia. They had rock bands passing through and strippers on the weekends and they sponsored a school basketball team.

Harold’s place was in Guysborough. The cops would be expecting Slaney to be going west. But Slaney was lighting out in the opposite direction. The trucker was heading for the ferry in North Sydney, bringing a shipment of Lay’s potato chips to Newfoundland.

Slaney could get a ride with him as far as Harold’s place in Guysborough, then backtrack the next day when things had cooled down a little. He bent over on the side of the highway with his hands on his knees and caught his breath. He whispered to himself. He spoke a stream of profanity and he said a prayer to the Virgin Mary in whom he half believed. Mosquitoes touched him all over. They settled on his skin and put their fine things into him and they were lulled and bloated and thought themselves sexy and near death.

They got in his mouth and he spit and they dotted his saliva. They were in the crease of his left eyelid. He wiped a mosquito out of his eye and found he was weeping. He was snot-smeared and tears dropped off his eyelashes. He could hear the whine of just one mosquito above the rest.

It was tears or sweat, he didn’t know.

He’d broken out of prison after four years and he was going back to Colombia. He’d learned from the first trip down there, the trip that had landed him in jail, that the most serious mistakes are the easiest to make. There are mistakes that stand in the centre of an empty field and cry out for love.

The largest mistake, that time, was that Slaney and Hearn had underestimated the Newfoundland fishermen of Capelin Cove. The fishermen had known about the caves the boys had dug for stashing the weed. They’d seen the guys with their long hair and shovels and picks drive in from town and set up tents in an empty field. They’d watched them down at the beach all day, heard them at night with their guitars around the bonfire. The fishermen had called the cops. Slaney and the boys had mistaken idle calculation for a blind eye and they had been turned in.

And they’d mistaken the fog for cover but it was an unveiling. Slaney and Hearn had lost their bearings in a dense fog, after sailing home from Colombia. They were just a half mile off shore with two tons of marijuana on board and they’d required assistance.

There were mistakes and there was a dearth of luck when they had needed just a little. A little luck would have seen them through the first trip despite their dumb moves.

Now Slaney was out again and he knew the nature of mistakes. They were detectable but you had to read all the signs backwards or inside out. Those first mistakes had cost him. They meant he could never go home. He’d never see Newfoundland again.

Everything will happen from here, he thought. This time they would do it right. He could feel luck like an animal presence, feral and watchful. He would have to coax it into the open. Grab it by the throat.

Slaney had broken out of prison and beat his way through the forest. He’d stumbled into a ditch of lupins. The searchlight must have seeped into his skin back there, just outside the prison fence, a radioactive buzz that left him with something extra. He wasn’t himself; he was himself with something added. Or the light had bleached away everything he was except the need to not be attacked by police dogs.

There was the scent of the lupins as he bashed through, the wet stalks grabbing at his shins. Cold raindrops scattering from the leaves. Then he was up on the shoulder of the road. He batted his hands around his head, girly swings at the swarms of mosquitoes.

The prayers he said between gusts of filthy language were polite and he had honed down his petition to a single word: the word was please. He had an idea about the Virgin Mary in ordinary clothes, jeans and a t-shirt. She was complicated but placid, more human than divine. He did not think virgin, he thought ordinary and smart. A girl with a blade of grass between her thumbs that she blew on to make a trilling noise. He called out for her now.

His prayers were meant to stave off the dread he felt and a shame that had nothing to do with the crime he’d committed or the fact that he was standing on the side of the road, under the moon, covered in mud, at the mercy of an ex convict with a transport truck.

It was a rootless and fickle shame. It might have been someone else’s shame, a storm touching down, or a shame belonging to no one, knocking against everything in its path.

His curses were an incantation against too much humility and the prayers pleaded with the Virgin to make the mosquitoes go away. Then the earth revved and thrummed. He jumped back into the ditch. He lay down flat with the lupins trembling over him. The sirens were loud, even at a distance, baritone whoops that scaled up to clear metallic bleats. The hoops of hollow, tin-bright noise overlapped and the torrent of squeal echoed off the hills. Slaney counted five cars. There were five of them.

Red and blue bands of light sliced through the lupin stalks and the heads of the flowers tipped and swung in the back draft as the cars roared past. The siren of each car was so shrill, as it swept past, that it pierced the bones of his skull and the tiny hammer in his ear banged out a message of calibrated terror and the rocks his cheek rested on in the ditch were full of vibration and then the sirens, one at a time, receded, and the echoes dissipated and silence followed. It was not silence. Slaney mistook it for silence but there was a wind that had come a long distance and it jostled every tree. Some branches rubbed against each other, squeaking. The leaves of the lupins chussled like the turning pages of a glossy magazine.

Five cars. They would go another three or four miles and then they’d let the dogs out. They had taken this long because they’d had to gather up the dogs. Slaney listened for the barking, which would be carried on the wind. He crawled out of the ditch to meet the next vehicle and he stood straight and brushed his hands over his chest and tugged the collar of the coveralls. He couldn’t wait for the truck that had been arranged. Anything could have happened to that truck.

He was getting the hell out of there before the dogs showed up. A station wagon went by with one headlight and he could see in the pale yellow shaft that it had begun to rain. The station wagon had a mattress tied to the roof. It had slowed to a crawl. There was a woman smoking a cigarette in the passenger seat. She turned all the way around to get a good look at him as they rolled to a stop. Slaney would remember her face for a long time. An amber dashlight lit her brown hair. The reflection of his own face slid over hers on the window and stopped when the car stopped, so that for the briefest instant, the two faces became one grotesque face with two noses and four eyes, and there was an elongated forehead and a stretched mannish chin under her full mouth and maybe she saw the same thing on her side of the glass.

The cop cars must have passed her already and she would have known that they were looking for someone. She exhaled the smoke and he saw it waggle up lazily. She reached over and touched the lock on the passenger door with a finger. They paused there, looking at him, though Slaney could not see the driver of the car, and then they’d sped up with a spray of gravel hitting his thighs.

Meet the Author

Lisa Moore is the acclaimed author of February, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, selected as one of The New Yorker's Best Books of the Year, and was a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book; and Alligator, which was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and won the Commonwealth Fiction Prize (Canada and the Caribbean), and was a Canadian bestseller. Her story collection Open was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and a Canadian bestseller.

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