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Sasquatch

Novel by M E Knerr 1977.

A lone trapper, somewhere in the woods of Lodgepole County in northern California, is quickly killed by an eight foot sasquatch. Soon after a cowboy notifies the local sheriff, he gets killed too, and the local drunk follows with short shrift. Sheriff Tom Murphy has something of a crisis on his hands, and trying to juggle problems in his love life with the intracacies of not telling the county commissioners that the murders are being committed by Bigfoot, he soon finds that the only solution is to offer himself to the sasquatch as bait.

With Sasquatch, the author has written a book markedly different from that which the reader is likely to expect. No gore novel this like Snowbeast!, no stalker thriller like Snowman and no prototype Bigfoot and the Hendersons comedy either: instead Knerr attempts to paint a picture of a gentle hill giant turning violent only when forced to do so by mankind. Faced with what he presumes is a bear scaring his horse, Russ McChord shoots to miss to scare it away. The bear is in fact the sasquatch of the title and it accidently gets hit in the neck. It finds the pain almost unbearable and starts to kill anyone with a gun so it can smash their weapon into pieces.

McChord is actually the book's saving grace: the insights into the gentle sasquatch are admirable but few and far between; most of the characters are weak and two dimensional; even Sheriff Murphy and the promising Moses Elkhorn fade into minor parts. But McChord dominates the book, a natural scene stealer. In fact, almost all of the book's best bits, whether action or insight, happen when he's around. He is essentially a loner trying to withdraw from what he sees as the hell of civilisation; living in a small cabin with no electricity or running water, he has no car and spends most of his time wandering in the woods. All the emotion in Sasquatch is centred around him: especially when his part-time girlfriend can't figure him out, and eventually leaves him, because he has no emotions. The book is set in a scenic mountain area, and the only times we see the beauty and the loneliness of the landscape are through his eyes. He has the best dialogue, even the best of the bad lines. Don't read the book for the plot or for the sasquatch. Read it for the character of Russ McChord. Only then you won't be disappointed.


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