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on Dec. 08, 2011 :
"The Pack" was a fun and scary little book that you just had to keep reading.
Beth is a journalist in Sydney lusting after a NY position. Having fled the city of Brereton twelve years ago at a young age and after a marriage proposal by Gabe, she is reluctant to return when her boss, Mr Brown asks her to cover a story there regarding canine attacks on humans and cattle alike.
Fueled by her ambition and possibly her subconscious need to see the people she cares for again, she drives to Brereton with her young daughter.
It is all rumors and speculation when she gets there and everyone is happy to share an opinion bordering on urban legend with dog interbreeding in order to make the perfect killer dog for dog fighting, but Beth finds out it's all true the hard way.
Barely surviving a dog attack herself, thanks to Gabe, now a National Parks and Wildlife officer, Beth knows there's a story right there. What she doesn't know, though, is that as she delves even deeper into this mystery she is undeniable danger, herself and everyone she cares about.
I really liked how packed with action the book was. It really didn't stall or drag at all. From the very first moment you became acquainted with Beth and her life and then into the little community of Brereton.
Although the story telling was more "tell" than "show" and I'm usually not sold on this, it worked really well for this book since it mostly focused on the action. Through people's reactions and words, you had no trouble understanding them and what drove them, what made them act that way. The motives ranged from love and loyalty, to anger, revenge, even stubbornness.
Though, one usually aches for more characterization and depth, this book was all about non-stop action and people being in danger that you couldn't help sympathizing and feeling for them.
I also really like how the author had passages about most of the victims and how they met their end and reading about someone and his story, starting to feel for him and then BAM! having him taken away was quite a shock and really kept your blood pumping. It kind of reminded me of Karin Slaughter and her books in which she makes you care about the victims too and then takes them away from you, which I'm particularly excited about.
Even the dash of romance was believable and even though the story wasn't heavily based on that, it still managed to put a smile on your face and make you hope for a reunion. I think generally, the book read like a movie which was really fascinating.
I don't think there were any blatant plot holes I can think of regarding the book, although I did find myself screaming when Jackson, Beth and Gabe went into the dog's lair as it was a sane thing to do. I mean come on, they had rifles, not machine guns...what could they do if the whole pack attacked them at once? And Jackson not getting inside his shed when his dog started barking made me cringe. Then again, I guess people there are more take-charge and confident hardened as they are by their way of life and their familiarity with guns and they might not have watched as many horror flicks as I have! :P *g*
All in all, an interesting and exciting action-packed little story that made your heart beat that little faster.
* Given by the author for an honest review
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on Dec. 07, 2011 :
I read this short novel at a perfect time. I needed a break from the usual longer novels (350+ pages) but needed a good, shorter "comfy, hometown read" full of mystery, suspense and surprises and I wasn't disappointed.
The setting is a small town in Australia whose residents have always been completely dependent upon the livestock industry (cattle, sheep, etc.) that are raised on several family farms throughout the town. So when the farmers began losing their livestock to some mysterious overnight predators they not only feared losing what they needed to make a living but the very existence of the old town that depended on the farming community.
While a majority of the residents have lived in the small Australian town their entire lives (along with their ancestors) a few had ventured out into the bigger world beyond their borders and one of them was a woman named "Beth Margraves" -- the novel's protagonist. She had left her small Australian town right after high school to become a journalist and did just that in Sydney Australia. She also left her widowed father and her best friend/boyfriend from grade school through high school to follow her dream. Her dream was about to become bigger (by being promoted to a higher class journalist position in New York City) if she was able to grab and write up a blockbuster story about the supposed mystery going on in her old hometown. For Beth, she knew it was only on a wing and a prayer that something "big" was indeed going on in that small town she was raised in.
When Beth was asked by her boss to investigate some strange goings-on in her hometown she didn't have much choice but to return and hunt down a story that would promote her to bigger and better things. She just didn't know then that she would become the hunted to get her story.
The story is a grisly one. Beth finds out right away that a pack of wild dogs of an undetermined genus and species were ripping the town apart -- literally. Sheep and cattle were found ripped to sheds and when Beth became a victim similar to the lady stuck in the car almost identical to the Stephen King novel and movie "CUJO" she had no idea what she would be up against. Fortunately, like the lady in CUJO, Beth survived the episode but she, and the town, are facing more than just one big bad dog. Others in the town wouldn't be as lucky as Beth.
Every good journalist can use good photos to go along with their stories and Beth is no different. To get what she needed Beth plans an afternoon trip, along with her old flame from school (Gabe), into the area where the wild dogs were supposedly nested (an underground location in The National Wildlife Park). Climbing down underground one afternoon with Gabe and an old hermit who resided in the National Wildlife Park (Clement Jackson) to scavenge the possible "home" to an undetermined number of wild dogs in the pack ... Beth got more than she bargained for. She obtained journalist award winning photos of the underground macabre -- a tomb of many bones. Only for the near future to potentially and easily have her own skeleton added to that very tomb.
When Beth, her father, her old boyfriend and others come face-to-face with the jaws and fangs belonging to the mysterious dogs (that are much bigger versions of dogs) who seem to possess the same thinking abilities as humans... many lose life and limb.
The story was supercharged with a small town in terror, a potential headline for Beth to capture for a big promotion, a romance rekindled between Beth and her boyfriend from 12 years ago when she left her small-town, and entire futures left to fate by fangs.
The novel was also packed with action with everyone trying to survive a ferocious pack of animals no matter where they went. It was certainly a page turner and very well written. With more than enough horror to rival Stephen King and with a sprinkling of Dean Koontz's supernatural creatures... THE PACK was overall a good read.
*** WARNING -- A semi-spoiler below.
What was disappointing was the fact that the wild creatures were just brought into the novel for Beth to gain her story and for the several days she stayed on the farm to do so. The long-term residents of the town knew that the creatures had been around for decades but apparently they hadn't caused trouble before displaying a sudden overkill with their need for feed. Further, at the end of the novel "the pack" didn't just "go away" so the whole story could just start all over again. Therefore there is plenty of room for more bloody carnivorous steam and a scream for a SEQUEL!!!
I did not know until I finished the novel that the author is much more than an ordinary, everyday individual trying out a debut novel. For anyone who is reading this, I will leave it up to you, if interested, to research the interesting accomplishments of this author (Les Turner).
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on Nov. 25, 2011 :
An interesting read!
(reviewed within a week of purchase)
on Aug. 21, 2011 :
I'm not a big fan of horror but was pleasantly surprised by this novel. It had enough going on to hold my attention even through the horror sections. Good characters, and a surprising and realistic romantic sub-plot kept me reading till the end.
I would recommend it to all readers, lovers of horror and romance especially.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)