They could have called this Claws to let you know that it has the Jaws-like appeal of hunting down a killer animal on the loose--a supersized, old, and wounded mountain lion terrorizing a New Mexico mountain village. But that wouldn't have hinted at the high erotic content--the adulterous liaison between a Mexican-American farmer's gringo wife and her fellow outsider, a reclusive composer. Or the In Cold Blood-ed effect of an inevitable, climactic rape in a camper (the above-mentioned gringette), suspensefully paralleling the stalk-kill of the lion. And it certainly wouldn't have told you that Lunge has pulled it all together with the sheer grab and characterization knack of a John D. MacDonald, faltering slightly only with the occasional soap-operatics of that steamy yet sensitive affair. Otherwise, he's in total command, whether churning up the conflicts among the demoralized, frostbitten hunting party--over-the-hill Johnson and ex-con Bowman of the Game & Fish Dept. vs. the trigger-happy villagers--or sketching in the fascinating social strata of Mexican-Americans, from the still-pureblooded Castilians to the near-aboriginal mountain people. Even the mountain lion is sharply, sympathetically characterized. In pre-ERA days, this brutally gripping, outdoors, blood-anger-and-luster would have been called a ""man's book,"" and perhaps that still applies. But Lange's verb-heavy, psychologically detailed, and fat-free prose, sweeping deliberately from mind to mind, should draw in anyone susceptible to a good strong read, whatever the sex or the sensibilities.