Michael Allan Mallory
Reviewed by Gary Shulze
From Once Upon a Crime Bookstore
Writing for CrimeSpree
Snake Jones is back. Following her excellent debut
in Victor and Mallory's Death Roll, Snake finds herself
embroiled in a dispute between northern Minnesota ranchers and
the federally protected gray wolf.
Killer Instinct opens with an old, crusty
local yelling across the Last Chance Outfitters store at Snake:
"... Shoot 'em all, every last one of 'em. Nothin but varmints
worthless murdering scavengers!" Snake is in the small town
of Wolf Lake, Minnesota, gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe
Area Wilderness, with her film crew to shoot a segment of Zoofari
for the Minnesota Valley Zoo. There's some buzz that Animal Planet
may pick it up for syndication. When she and her old college friend
Gina Brown later discover four wolf carcasses, shot and hidden
in the woods, the old loudmouth from the diner becomes Snake's
first suspect. But the old coot is soon eliminated - quite literally
- as a suspect, shot by the same rifle that killed the wolves.
More murders and peculiarities ensue, and Snake,
even though she can't afford to be distracted from this important
film project, can't rest until she gets to the bottom of these
mysteries. Ultimately, Snake and her Aussie husband Jeff will
need to rely on all the survival instincts and training they have
when, deep in the dark interior of Superior National Forest, they
find themselves pursued by the ultimate predator: a crazed killer
desperate to protect a deadly secret.
Some of my favorite books, and a major reason I
enjoy reading, teach me something while I'm being entertained.
This book contains a wealth of material on animal behavior. I
never knew, for example, that ravens are the only bird that will
fly towards a gun shot. They have learned that that's quite possibly
where their next meal will be found, thus overcoming what would
seem to be a natural instinct to fly away.
In one of those coincidences that happen now and
then, the day after I finished reading Killer Instinct, this
headline appeared from the Associated Press: "Feds Want Wolf
Off Endangered List" (September 14, 2010). We might have
had to wait a few years for this new Snake Jones adventure, but
you have to admit, it's about as timely as you can get. Killer
Instinct is both a great entertainment and a compelling mystery,
with a strong sense of place (fans of Kent Krueger take note)
and really cool, interesting characters. Marilyn Victor and Michael
Allan Mallory have seamlessly combined their voices into a well-tuned
and expressive unison.
~Gary Shulze, for Crimespree Magazine