First published back in February of 2009 by Severn House Publishers, Guy N Smith continues to add to an illustrious career as a prolific horror author with his novel ‘Maneater. Beautifully presented in a sleeved hardback edition, the novel is already seen as an essential addition to Smiths glorious back catalogue.

DLS Synopsis:
In the picturesque rural area of the Shropshire and Welsh border, ex-reporter Gordon Hall now lives alone after spending a number of years in South Africa as a professional hunter. During this time in the outback wilderness, Hall honed his skills at tracking, hunting and killing large wild animals. Since then and the tragic death of his wife Diana, Hall has moved back to where he felt was truly his home; the rural landscape that surrounds the Black Hill. 

Nothing much had been troubling the local community of late until a ewe is found mauled to death on the grass within one of the local farmers
fields. After Hall observes the animal's carcass, he declares that it had been done by a large feline predator, somewhat unknown to the UK. Hall declares that the predator is none other than a leopard.

Before long the leopard is spotted by the local games keeper Martin Jones, who foolishly takes a pot shot at the wild cat, wounding its front leg, but otherwise causing no further damage. Now that the leopard is injured it can no longer catch and kill its usual choice of prey in the wild; rabbits and other such wild animals. Instead, the leopard has to resort to easier targets, namely humans. The leopard is now a dangerous maneater.

Soon enough, a baby is killed and the mother wounded by the hungry and desperate leopard. Gordon Hall
s pervious fame as a successful hunter catches up with him, as the news of a maneating leopard hits the papers. Unfortunately the publicity attracts the unwanted attention of the local animal rights activist Ellen Mason, whose extreme measures add a new and unnecessary danger to Hall's life.

The leopard is still at large and taking more victims with each day that passes. Hall pairs up with the local thirty-nine year old ex-bakery worker Dawn Finch, who Hall employs to do general household chores and the like. With the local police force and armed response unit sill having no luck with capturing or killing the leopard, a decision is made to seek the services of Gordon Hall.

Hall accepts the request for help, and so his hunt for the illusive and highly dangerous leopard begins. The landscape is now covered in a thick layer of snow making hunting the beast a much more arduous task. The longer it takes Hall to kill the desperate killer leopard, the more victims it is likely to take. Time is not in his favour, but not even the experienced Gordon Hall could predict the challenges that await him...

DLS Review:
Set within the rural area of the Shropshire and Welsh border, just up from the village of Llanadevy; the tale follows on in a loose fashion from Smith
s early ‘Werewolf trilogy - ‘Werewolf By Moonlight (1974), ‘Return Of The Werewolf (1976) and ‘The Son Of The Werewolf (1978).  Although this new tale is set a number of years after the horrific events that beset the village and surrounding farmland, Smith still gives a brief nod towards his old, but obviously not forgotten, characters of the past.

What undoubtedly links the novels together the most is the inclusion of the principal protagonist of Gordon Hall. Although time has aged the now ex-reporter, Hall still gives off his undeniable charm and charisma. 

Smiths love of the rural lifestyle, guns and hunting in general are all brought to the forefront of the tale. Not since his earlier novel ‘Caracal (1980) has any other piece of Smiths fiction delved so unashamedly into this passion of his; once again drawing on the hunting theme as the main premise to the tale.  Indeed, many similarities can be made between ‘Caracal (1980) and that of 'Maneater, however both tales follow their own separate storylines, detailing of two entirely different savage felines at large in the UK.

The character of Gordon Hall has matured a lot since the early days of the ‘Werewolf
novels. His age must now be well into his sixties at the very least. His developing relationship with Dawn Finch is brought into question on numerous occasions during the tale, mostly due to the large age gap between the two of them. Although Hall is now quite considerably older than he was in his previous adventures in the woodlands of Black Hill, Gordon Hall still proves to be a very able and skilful hunter.

The novel races through at a fast and suspense filled pace. The inclusion of the small
animal rights activist’ subplot adds a nice little break from the main thrust of the tale, whilst also allowing Smith to declare his obvious dislike for what he sees as the narrow-minded and blinkered views of such people. Furthermore, Smith manages to carefully throw in justifications for hunting, giving the story a very real and true to life quality.

With the dramatic ending in sight, Smith knocks the tension up a gear, slipping in a number of unpredictable twists and turns to the tale, until the grande finale is finally upon us. The conclusion is entirely satisfying, with a good and unrushed ending that suitably wraps up this eventful and fast-paced adventure. Smith even slips in the possibility of a further Gordon Hall-esque
hunting sequel, as a parting message at the very end of the tale.

All in all, Guy N Smith’s novel ‘Maneater’ is another great addition to his incredibly prolific back catalogue. The novel shows that this master scribbler still has many top quality stories left in him, with his undeniable passion and talent for writing horror fiction still as strong as it has ever been.

The novel runs for a total of 185 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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