PEREGRINE by William Bayer


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A psychopathic falconer and his pet falcon terrorize Manhattan--in a slow-moving formula thriller that buries its serviceable horror gimmick in low-grade padding and kinkily unpleasant sado-sex. The villain is handsome Jay Hollander, who, for reasons never made clear or plausible (something to do with ""the mold, the soil, festering, putrescent--sex""), has trained ""Peregrine""--a specially bred super-falcon--to fatally rip the throats of young women on the street. And witnessing the first such attack is pretty, struggling TV newswoman Pam Barrett: she gets exclusive film of the killing, begins to suspect that the attack was intentional falconry rather than a freak accident, and becomes a media star on tabloid Channel Eight. But Pam's reports attract the obsessive attention of psycho Jay, who sends her creepy anonymous notes before each new kill. Thus, Pam has an extra motive in trying to identify and stop the psycho--and her research brings her right to. . . falcon expert Jay himself, whom she's attracted to, never suspecting that he's really her nemesis. She sleuths down the black-market bird-seller and the breeder who supplied the bird; she entices the psycho and falcon into a sky-duel with a monstrous hawk-eagle from Japan (both the hawk and its Japanese owner die). But it's only when Peregrine fails in her latest mission that furious, thwarted Jay--and the case--starts to crack: he kills a prostitute with whom he has bird-costume sex; he kills the breeder (who knows too much); and he lures Pam to the Chrysler Building, abducting her and subjecting her (and us) to pages of birdo/porno bondage-and-discipline. Some of the falconry lore here is intriguing (much is not), and the crass TV-news background is lively. But the blurry angst of the surly NYPD cop on the case is irrelevant and tedious; the psycho-obsession is creaky, sometimes downright silly; and, without appealing characters or genuine suspense, this derivative potboiler (a little Jaws/Nightwing, a little John Fowles, a lot of Hitchcock) mostly reads like a scenario--much, much inflated--for one of those sick, low-budget exploitation films that depend on victimized women and mindless violence.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 1981
ISBN: 0765311615
Publisher: Congdon & Lattes--dist. by St. Martin's