Thursday, April 11, 2019

Panther! by Alan Ryan (1981): The City is a Jungle and I'm a Beast

I don't know what kind of hopes I had for this Signet paperback original, featuring one of the great "animal attacks" covers of the era, a stunning tableau of Manhattan mayhem by the fantastic Tom Hallman. The late author Alan Ryan, a generally reliable editor and author, offers up his first novel Panther! with a solid set-up and serviceable prose and dialogue, but it all kind of puttered away to indifference for me. Fifteen panthers are brought by a rough'n'ready animal wrangler to NYC for a movie premiere—for a flick called Panther! of course—but they get loose and terrorize the city.

But it takes forever for this wonderful scenario to shift into gear and the panther kill scenes are printed in italics which makes it seem like they're taking place in some ethereal no-man's land and not on the mean streets of the city (I did like how one panther drags its victim into the doorway of the Russian Tea Room). It's all very straight-faced and square, lacking the pulp intensity, tastelessness, and energy of other novels of its ilk. This is one you buy for the cover art alone, alas.

3 comments:

K. White said...

In a related genre, any plans on reading & reviewing Guy N. Smith's "Caracal"? That particular wild cat has always been a favorite of mine and I dread if Smith treated them like he treated crabs...

Tom said...

Ryan did get better with his subsequent novels DEAD WHITE and CAST A COLD EYE.

Christopher Robin said...

Wait, is it fifteen panthers or twenty? I feel it's important to be precise about panther totals.