The Thumbnail Book Reviews

by John Q McDonald --- 26 March 1999

The Red Hourglass

Lives of the Predators

by Gordon Grice

A man in rural Oklahoma likes to collect the critters that hide in the dark corners of the landscape. He has a few jars with tarantulas in them, arrayed on a shelf in his workshop. He ponders the doings of a black widow spider in a jar on his kitchen table. This is the stuff of this book, run through with the boyish fascination of creepy crawly things that kill other things. Still, in these several essays, telling the story of black widows, rattlesnakes, praying mantids, the brown recluse and even pigs and dogs, Grice weaves interesting historical and scientific information into the homey tales of the behavior of these little predators in his back yard. He details the toxicity of the venom of some of the creatures, and the historical relationship with man of others. The book is entertaining, if a little squirmy at points, and is often very insightful. The matter of fact approach and clear writing make this a fun, but odd, little book.

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