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FATALIS by Jeff Rovin


by Jeff Rovin

Pub Date: May 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-312-24103-8
Publisher: St. Martin's

Long-extinct big cats terrorize California in this almost-thriller.

Saber-toothed tigers have been on ice for 11,000 years until a modest little cataclysm near Santa Barbara catapults them from a cryogenic state back into live action. And lively they are, and strong, and voracious. Pretty soon, Californians are disappearing in alarming numbers, leaving behind puddles of blood and not much else in the way of remains. Panic mounts as it becomes increasingly clear just how much hunger (and anger) these cool cats have had a chance to amass. Forces gather hurriedly to deal with an intensifying emergency. Among these are three interested parties with sharply divergent views on what it all means and exactly what response is called for. Sheriff Malcolm Gearhart, hardheaded ex-Marine, wants the beasts wiped out, the faster the better. Deadly force is the only sensible answer when the safety and well being of the community are threatened. Jim Grand, anthropologist, knows how dangerous these predators are, but he also knows their value to science. There must be a way, he says, to preserve both the community and the animals. Hannah Hughes runs a newspaper. To her, nothing matters more than the story—until love for Jim enters the picture, at which point her view becomes a little muddied. Up in the hills above L.A., hunters chase cats, cats chase hunters, and as the drama plays out each of the principals gets some of what he or she wants and some of what he or she certainly doesn't.

Rovin (Vespers, not reviewed) does all right with his action scenes; it's his people scenes that invite the occasional catnap.