Sten Stenson, Vietnam veteran and retired school principal, and his wife, Carolee, are on a cruise in Costa Rica when their coach excursion is hijacked. Sten’s military training overtakes him and within moments one of the attackers lies dead. The rest flee and Sten finds himself hailed a hero by the tour group and everyone back home.
Meanwhile, in the redwood forests north of San Francisco, Sara – a farrier who refuses to recognize the authority of the government – is arrested after failing to cooperate with police at a routine stop. A chance meeting with twenty-five-year-old Adam, Sten and Carolee’s unstable son, sparks a strange but passionate relationship fuelled by a mutual hatred of the law. Adam, an angry and misunderstood outsider, perennially dressed in camouflage and with his head shaved to the bone, has an unhealthy obsession with nineteenth-century mountain man John Colter. As Adam’s views and behaviour become steadily more extreme, he descends into a spiral of fanatical violence that is impossible for his family or Sara to halt.
The latest novel by internationally bestselling author T. C. Boyle, The Harder They Come is as timely as it is provocative. A deep and disturbing meditation on the roots of American gun violence, it explores the fine line between heroism and savagery, and just how far a parent can be held accountable for the actions of his child.