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Publisher's Summary

Using modern biology and history to investigate a series of grisly deaths in the countryside of 18th-century France.

Something unimaginable occurred from 1764 to 1767 in the remote highlands of south-central France. For three years, a real-life monster, or monsters, ravaged the region, slaughtering by some accounts more than 100 people, mostly women and children, and inflicting severe injuries upon many others. Alarmed rural communities - and their economies - were virtually held hostage by the marauder, and local officials and Louis XV deployed dragoons and crack wolf hunters from far-off Normandy and the King's own court to destroy the menace. And with the creature's reign of terror occurring at the advent of the modern newspaper, it can be said the ferocious attacks in the Gévaudan region were one of the world's first media sensations.

Despite extensive historical documentation about this awesome predator, no one seemed to know exactly what it was. Theories abounded: Was it an exotic animal, such as a hyena, that had escaped from a menagerie? A werewolf? A wolf-dog hybrid? A new species? Some kind of conspiracy? Or, as was proposed by the local bishop, was it a scourge of God? To this day, debates on the true nature of La Bête, "The Beast," continue.

Beast takes a fascinating look at all the evidence, using a mix of history and modern biology to advance a theory that could solve one of the most bizarre and unexplained killing sprees of all time: France's infamous Beast of the Gévaudan.

©2016 Gustavo Sanchez Romero and S. R. Schwalb. (P)2017 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

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True crime lovers will enjoy this

The book approached the subject of a series of killings in France in the mid-1700s. The author examines the stories around a mythological beast that folklore holds responsible for the killings. The author impressed me with his calculating logical approach to the subject refusing to get carried away with the supernatural. Nor does he sensationalize anything to sway us to a certain point of view. He comprehensively examines the possibilities and gives his best assumption at the end based on what has been reliably reported of the events back then and what we know of animals now. It reminded me of the examinations of historical crimes in light of today's knowledge. I enjoyed it more than I expected. The narrator was a bit disappointing, speaking with all the flair of an old-time newsreel. I felt he could have varied his cadence and inflection instead droning on. But even with that, I'll listen to it again at some point.