Posted by: Kathleen Mix | July 20, 2012

Seen a Bear Lately?

I wouldn’t dream of boarding an airplane without a book to read. For my recent trip to the Teton Mountains in Jackson Hole Wyoming and nearby Yellowstone Park, I took along a copy of Prey by Linda Howard. My choice proved not only entertaining but also eerily appropriate.
Howard’s books are always masterfully written, and Prey is no exception.
The story is set in the mountains of Montana. In addition to the dangerous locale and a cunning murderer, the author gives readers another memorable villain: a five-hundred pound black bear with a taste for human flesh. Howard ramps up the tension in her story by doing something rarely seen in women’s fiction: she gives the bear a point-of-view. Since I’ve never tried to think like a bear, I can’t say if her characterization is accurate. I can say it is unique and helps her book stand out from the crowd.
As usual, Howard’s human characters are well-rounded and the protagonists are people we’d like to know. She banishes sagging middle syndrome by expertly using the second-act chapters to develop the romantic relationship between the hero and heroine. I was so caught up in the personality conflicts and sexual tension that I hardly noticed the lull in the outdoor action.
Reading Prey on my flight to Yellowstone gave me extra respect for the wildness of the black bears and grizzlies known to frequent the park. By the time Howard’s fictional bear had made his first horrific kill, I’d decided to give any real ones I encountered an extremely wide berth, even if they looked tame.
If you read and liked High Country by Nevada Bar, be sure to read Prey by Linda Howard (Ballantine Books, 2012). If you haven’t read either, put both on your summer reading list. One warning: don’t open Prey in a tent while camping. You may pack up early and rush home.

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