Thursday, 31 January 2008

Guy N. Smith Book Review - Carnivore

In 1780, the mad Earl of Corby passed a decree stating that anyone who killed an animal on the Corby lands was to be put to death. But the Corby family has fallen on hard times, and the estate has been sold to John Broughton, owner of Broughton Safaris. He intends to repeal the law and set up the property to provide traditional English fieldsports for wealthy foreigners, thus enacting the Corby Curse.

Almost immediately the animals on the property start acting strangely. Creatures who normally shy away from humans are unafraid, even hostile. Soon people are being attacked by foxes, minks, snakes, bees and anything else you can think of. Even ill tempered ducks are biting the fingers of small children.

John Broughton comes up with scheme after scheme to bring the animal population under control, but they all backfire spectacularly. His dogs are virtually wiped out by wild mink. A visiting German businessman is trampled by murderous cows. Attempts to open the estate to the public are thwarted by killer rats. Pretty soon everyone is dead or gone, and it's up to John Broughton and his gamekeeper Gordon Shank to face the Corby Curse alone.

The idea of everyday animals suddenly turning on humankind can be scary, but it can also be pretty silly. Some animals, such as foxes or minks, can seem quite menacing under the right circumstances. But, honestly, pheasants? Cows? Donkeys? I was half expecting the trout to start jumping out of the water and attacking people (actually, that would have been awesome.)

None of Smith's awkward sex scenes in this book, I'm afraid. No sex at all, actually, although Mrs Broughton is accosted by a voyeuristic spider while she is masturbating in the bath.

Smith knows a great deal about gamekeeping, having written a number of books on the subject. In fact, many of his books feature a gamekeeper in some capacity. He is really in his element with this book and his depth of knowledge really brings the story to life. I have to recommend this book, if only for the line "what chance did they stand against this army of attacking pheasants?"

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