WILD GAME by Frank Bergon


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 The quixotic spiritual quest of Bergon's last novel (The Temptations of St. Ed and Brother S, 1993) is stripped to a lackluster study of obsession--this time in the story of a wildlife biologist who battles booze and feelings of inadequacy after barely surviving a cold-blooded encounter in which a good friend is killed. Based on actual events occurring in Nevada in the 1980's, this interpretation pits two determined and not dissimilar men against each other in a conflict of lifestyles and a struggle for survival. Jack Irigaray accompanies his game warden buddy on a routine shakedown of a poacher, only to watch in horror as the hunter, self-styled mountain man Billy Crockett, wastes the warden and another man along for the ride. After being forced to help dispose of the bodies, Jack is also shot, allowing Billy to make his getaway. Found in time before bleeding to death, Jack joins the manhunt but the trail grows cold, and as weeks stretch into months he has trouble resuming his life. His increased drinking to assuage his sense of helplessness alienates his wife and daughters, but when Billy is finally captured and comes to trial, Jack trusts that justice will prevail. His eyewitness testimony, however, is discredited by the defense, leading to a conviction on lesser charges for the killer; and as the trial ends, insult is added to injury when his family leaves him. An ensuing period of drunkenness, in which Jack first dates then beats Billy's ex- girlfriend, is ended only when Crockett escapes and Jack gets sober to chase him. A second encounter between them leaves Jack wounded again; this time, though, his equanimity is restored, allowing him to let go of the past. Potentially gripping material, but the psychodrama is awkwardly handled, and crucial details of the pursuit and confrontation lack heat.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-87417-257-8
Page count: 328pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1995


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