The Shadowkiller by Matthew Scott Hansen (Simon and Schuster $25.oo)
I know I made you work hard last time I reported on Against the Day. I forgot to tell you to lift with both hands and use your legs! Not your back.
Matthew Scott Hansen has written a compelling thriller with a completely new serial killer: Bigfoot. He's the last of his tribe, all the others having been killed when the small two legs let loose the fire which consumed the canyon where they encamped. Now further encroachments on his territory have enraged him enough that he begins to enjoy the two legs' feelings of terror and fear as he pursues and captures them. As his killing spree continues, he is able to discern these feelings even more clearly.
Ty Greenwood is a retired, disgraced software exec, who after an encounter with Bigfoot two years ago in Idaho has become a laughing stock. He's taken a job with the Forestry Dept. as a cover to continue his search for the elusive hominid. Although his loving wife has stood by him throughout his crackpot quest even her patience is finally wearing thin, though their money isn't.
Chief Ben Eagleclaw has been playing noble, savage Indians in Hollywood since being scouted at a local diner soon after returning from WWII. His youthful encounter with a Bigfoot has spurred his quest to find this one, fueled mostly through "that crazy Indian stuff" he feels creeping back into his consciousness.
Kris Walker is a scheming junior TV reported for the local CBS station, recently transferred up from the hick station in Yakima. She is having visions of cracking the biggest murder case since the Green River Killer, but the only problem is, there are no bodies yet. Just a growing list of missing mountain bikers, Weyerhaeuser surveyors, hikers and rural residents. She'll do anything to get the story, even if it means fucking the local sheriff.
Hansen rachets up the terror as Bigfoot breathes warmly down the backs of his next meals. The forest falls utterly silent. Actual reported sightings record feeling utter dread and the urge to get away, quickly.
Growing up in the wild woods of Washington, I imagined many things, and Bigfoot was one of them. I grew up on a 220 acre farm and I could go hide, run though the woods, not show up until "supper". It actually was concievable to me that I could walk to Mt Rainier. I knew that in my heart. I could dip and dodge and go all the way and never come within sight of a household. When you grow up in a setting like the 1970's Western Washington, it was easy to allow that there might be something out there we humans hadn't found yet. I had read the history of the coelacanth in fifth grade, considered extinct for 65 million years, until one was netted off the coast of Madagascar in 1938. And the gorilla was unknown until after the turn of the twentieth century. Within the past ten years, a previously unknown species of deer has been found in Viet Nam. We already have fossil proof of the existence of Gigantopithecus.
After my many years defending Mystery as a "genre", now I must defend the "Thriller". There are bad ones. There are good ones. Here is a very good one. Matt is a native of these woods and he really puts that onto the page.
ShadowKiller is a fast paced, perfectly placed novel of our times. We ignore the old legends at our peril. All the Indian legends have some form of a large, not human being. The Oh-mah, Sasquatch, See-ah-Tik, Tsunoqua are some of the names in these folklores
I started reading this book as an utter skeptic.... a sarcastic skeptic. I am more willing to entertain the idea of Bigfoot, now. This is a wonderful scary story, the ultimate boogey man. Gigantus Erectus....
Matt signed copies at the Seattle Mystery Bookshop last Saturday. I warned him of this impending book report and he may be lurking here today. Tell us your Bigfoot story and I'm sure he'll comment. I was interviewed about my reaction to the book by the Snohomish hometown paper, The Everett Herald. Signed copies with publisher's promotional post card laid in, $25.00 plus shipping available at Seattle Mystery Bookshop, Jackson Street Books, or fine independent bookstores everywhere.
Unfortunatley, democommie™™™™®© was unable to participate in this book report, being far too occupied in rewriting Dining al a fresca with the Donner Party. He's asking about the Curry chapter... I keep telling him: 2 tsp of Turmeric and move on. I hope the ShadowKiller has enough human carnage to satisfy the Troops in the mean-time.