Advancing with effortless, leisurely sweeps of its huge scythe-like tail, the great white slipped casually through the chum to pass with utter indifference less than a yard from the stern. As it did so, it rolled onto its left side to eye us. That pupilless jet-black eye is like nothing else I have seen in Nature.

Predators I Have Known is a non-fiction outing for sci-fi writer, Alan Dean Foster, in which he regales us with tales of his encounters with the predators of the natural world. From diving with great whites to outrunning ants, the writing is at its best when he is obviously passionate about the subject matter.

Unfortunately, the day to day travelogue anecdotes are clumsy and a little boring. We don’t need to know the details of how he got to the places where he saw the predators, especially when nothing particularly interesting happens on the way. Nor do his descriptions of the people he meets hold any charm. At times there is even a privileged smugness to the writing. Some of the chapters also seem like fillers and I’m not convinced it was written as a whole book, there are a few occasions where information is repeated where it really doesn’t need to be.

It’s interesting enough to pick up and read a bit at a time, but only really if you have an interest in the animals themselves. It certainly doesn’t work as travel writing and there’s not enough humour or eloquence to make it a purely pleasurable read without an interest in natural history.

Predators I have Known is published by Open Road Media and is available in paperback and ebook formats. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

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