PRIMAL SHADOWS by Alan Dean Foster
A Dark Thriller of Papua New Guinea
Forge Books - July, 2001
ISBN: 0312877714 - Hardcover
Thriller - for explicit material

Reviewed by Susan McBride,
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Alan Dean Foster's "first contemporary mainstream thriller" PRIMAL SHADOWS begins with a man telling a story at a bar. The "if I told you what just happened to me, you wouldn't believe it...." cliche. That should have set off the warning bell in my brain, but the book had been highly recommended so I figured it was worth digging into. So dig, I did. What I found wasn't so much a thriller as a male adventure novel with all the usual trappings: disgruntled protagonist Steven Bohannon goes searching for something (himself?) in Papua New Guinea, ends up robbed after great sex with an anonymous redheaded woman, and decides to go chasing after her into the rain forest, up mountains, through tribal fighting and so on. The men in PRIMAL SHADOWS are brave, reckless and remarkable lucky. The women are slaves, concubines or prostitutes. Not exactly a feminist manifesto.

PRIMAL SHADOWS is one of those bigger-than-life novels where the main character gets wounded (over and over) yet merely grits his teeth through each knife wound, snake bite or spearing. The dialogue is far from fresh and the descriptive passages are heavy on the adjectives. Foster's foray into "mainstream fiction" seems geared toward a male readership looking to vicariously live out a jungle fantasy. This may be just the antidote to civilization for some, but not for me.

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