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The Savage

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Star, London, 1986
(originally published by New English Library 1979 under the name Alex Peters)
price: 2.25; 224 pages

dedication: The Savage is a novel about two societies - one primitive, one civilised. But which is which?

The blurb on the back:

A savage on the loose in New York
Project Wildman - a daring, outrageous experiment involving a primitive South American Indian and the most sophisticated city on Earth - New York.
First they have to catch their 'Wildman' in the treacherous jungle and bring him to the 'civilised' city, where they abandon him, naked.
Then they observe his reactions to this world beyond his comprehension - a world which ultimately proves just as savage as the one he left behind...

opening lines:
The man in the darkness was afraid; desperately, helplessly afraid.

Peter Haining was best known as the editor of horror anthologies, but he was also part of the editorial team at New English Library in the boom years of the early-Seventies, and once had a novel, The Hero, published under his name. He didn't, however, write the book - that was the responsibility of Terry Harknett, whose principal area of expertise was the pulp western (see link at bottom of this page). This one was also written by Harknett, and first published in 1979 by NEL under the pen-name, Alex Peters. For no discernible reason, when it was re-published in 1986, it came out under Haining's name, and thus became his second novel.

All of which is very confusing. The book on the other hand isn't. It's a straightforward pulp plot involving an Erich Von Daniken-type pseudo-scientist who decides to find an isolated community which has no contact with the outside world, kidnap one of their members and bring him to New York to see how he'll respond. And that's it, really.

It's not a good book by any standards. The first hundred pages are spent in South America acquiring the victim of the experiment and bringing him to America, so that by the time you've got to the point of the story, you're already bored to tears. And it doesn't get any better. Could have been fun, but isn't.

I assume incidentally that this was republished to coincide with the unexpected success of the movie Crocodile Dundee, which was released in 1986. There can have been no other reason for bothering.

first edition


from the maker of...

The Hero
see a biography of Terry Harknett
and a bibliography of his work

more experiments on people...

Michael Fisher, The Captives