First-timer McDaniel and veteran Womack (The Software Bomb, 1993, etc.) attempt to breathe new life into Richard Connell’s classic story “The Most Dangerous Game” by making the man hunted for sport into a series of hunted women.
Decatur Kaiser is compulsively tidy, likes sophomoric puns and runs the best bakery in Anchorage. He has a devoted wife and two wonderful children. Small wonder no one suspects that every time he goes on one of his annual hunting trips, he takes with him a different young woman he’s kidnapped to rape, release and hunt through the deep Alaskan wilderness after giving her half an hour’s head start. One year his choice falls on Susie, an exotic dancer he picks up at Bushwhackers, the local strip joint. He doesn’t know it’s her first night on the job or that she’s Sue Turnbull, the daughter of his friend Anchorage cop Sgt. Dick Turnbull. At first, Sue literally can’t believe what’s happened to her—just to give her the message that it’s all terribly real and raise the stakes a tad, Decatur chops off her finger when he turns her loose, and her early survival strategies are ineffectual. But then she catches a lucky break and resolves that she’ll fight back and win. Since you can rely on cat-and-mouse tales like this one to end with appropriate revenge against the killer, there’s a limited opportunity for unexpected developments; McDaniel and Womack provide exactly one big surprise in Chapter 35, just two-thirds of the way through the story. From that point on, it’s downhill all the way.
Pulp-ish, fast-moving and predictable to a fault. For readers who haven’t had enough, the final chapter hints at a series.