MAN EATER by Ray Shannon
Kirkus Star


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Life is like the movie business in this lean, funny thriller about a producer scrambling to save her life and career.

In a tale bearing traces of Elmore Leonard and Preston Sturges, author Shannon (a pseudonym “for an award-winning author”) suggests that LA street violence and Burbank studio infighting are the same bloodthirsty sport. Protagonist Ronnie “Raw” Deal, producer at Velocity Pictures, sets a tight plot spinning when she stops by the Tiki Shack Bar to nurse her lacerated ego. She suspects that studio rival Andy Gleason connived to get Brad Pitt to nix Trouble Town, a script she’d backed. Plotting “a clean kill” to get Gleason, Ronnie finds another target for her rage: a giant black man strides into the bar and starts working over a floozy sitting nearby. Ronnie flies into him, finishing him off with a kick to the groin, unaware that she’s humiliated Neon Polk, a hit man who once blasted off part of a man’s sexual equipment when the latter singed Neon’s jacket at a party for the film Thug House. A few days after Ronnie’s attack, Neon grabs his pound of flesh: he rapes her, then orders her to come up with $50,000 or he’ll take her out. Ronnie turns to aspiring screenwriter Ellis Langford. She thinks his script Street Iron reveals an insider’s sense of the urban jungle. If Velocity buys the script, Ronnie hints, might Ellis, a pizza deliveryman, dispatch Neon? Ellis wavers. He’s a former big house resident who wants to go straight. He’s also the prey of two nascent psychopaths he pummeled after they stiffed him on a delivery charge. Soon everyone’s stalking everyone else, as Shannon whips up the pace in a series of quick cuts. Ronnie survives, instincts intact: the escapade will make a great film—she’ll call it Man Eater.

Read the book before they make the movie.

Pub Date: Feb. 7th, 2003
ISBN: 0-399-14976-7
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2002