Three years in the life of a fisher--and what with descriptions of a group of squirrels as ""saucy little sprites"" and yet another squirrel spewing out ""a stream of verbal abuse,"" it seems every bit that long. The fisher, Noir (whose black pelt we know as mink), leads a life that is mostly a painstakingly described series of hunts--for rabbits, grouse, squirrel, what have you--and a few close escapes from wolves, eagles and, most dangerous of all, a lynx. His routine is interrupted when he is caught in a metal trap, and though rescued by an Indian boy from whom he later escapes, Noir coincidentally returns to torment the trapper by raiding his caches. Though trapper Pierre is obsessed with killing Noir he never succeeds, and Noir's survival and growth to magnificent, muscular adulthood will gratify staunch wildlife lovers. Others, who demand a more finely calibrated style, will likely find Noir's appeal elusive.