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by Matthew Scott Hansen
Simon & Schuster, January 2007
448 pages
ISBN: 0743294734

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

I have to admit that I approached reading this book with a great deal of skepticism. Billed as a "good, old-fashioned ghost story", I wasn't sure that I was ready to "follow the thrilling adventures of Bigfoot and his rampage of apocalyptic destruction." Being an unrelenting realist, I felt certain that I'd be squashing Bigfoot before page 50.

However, much to my surprise, the narrative begins in a very convincing fashion. There is a sentient hominid roaming the Snohomish County, Washington, area. Often referred to as Bigfoot, he is over ten feet tall and weighs 1,400 pounds. He is able to intuit the feelings of the humans around him and has some capacity for logical thinking. Mostly, he feels rage, as the members of his tribe were killed many years earlier by a fire caused by careless campers.

So when a "small two-legs" enters his territory, he kills them. Several people disappear in this fashion. A local ruthless TV reporter with aims for the big time stirs up the community by reporting that the disappearances are a result of a serial killer.

There are a few people who know differently, including a local law enforcement official. The problem is that nobody is going to believe that some hairy monster is on the loose killing people. It's just too outlandish a tale for most people to accept. Detective Mac Schneider eventually hooks up with a local who had a run-in with Bigfoot a few years earlier, and who was ridiculed and derided as a result. They are also aided by an Indian who has a sort of mystical connection with the beast.

The story worked well for about the first half of the book. The events as presented seemed possible, and Bigfoot was portrayed as a mysterious, hidden creature. Unfortunately, his behavior escalates. All at once, he is out and about and all over the place. He is chomping down on humans like they are pretzel sticks. I lost count of how many people died way too many and in terrible ways. It felt like the author needed to keep the juices flowing, and did so by killing off a bunch more people. It was overdone. The book began with Bigfoot presented in a much more subtle way; it ended with some kind of out-of-control monster conjured out of the movie screen. For some reason, I kept picturing Fay Wray screaming in the grip of King Kong.

In the epilogue of the book, Hansen presents research that supports the premise that Bigfoot exists. If he does, I hope he's not related to the monster portrayed here. Otherwise, we might see a very mysterious drop in the population of Washington State.

Reviewed by Maddy Van Hertbruggen, February 2007

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