This is a nonfiction account of a 1997 tiger attack on villagers in eastern Russia. After a large Amur tiger kills and eats a villager who is poaching in the nearby forest , local game warden Yuri Trush is sent to investigate. The tiger seems to mount a personal vendetta against his human prey – at one point, pulling the future victim’s mattress from his shack and sitting on it for hours while he waits for the man to return home. While Yuri Trush pursues the tiger, the reader is treated to a series of detailed lessons about the Russian Taiga (or boreal forest), human/tiger interactions through history, the Chinese black market, predator ecology and Soviet politics and economics.
What the Armchair Critics Thought:
We had a split verdict about this book. Many thought it was an incredible read and couldn’t put it down. They enjoyed learning about these magnificent animals, as well as the taiga, and the people who live in the tiger’s shadow. They appreciated the description of perestroika – how middle class families were forced into a subsistence lifestyle. They thought the author did a great job of relating to the characters involved, and loved the final showdown between the tiger and the game warden Trush. On the other hand, some of the other members felt the book was bloated and boring with endless tangential chapters of obscure tiger lore. More of a text book than an enjoyable book club read. On the plus side, we now know how to bury a body Russian mafia style!