If there is anything I have learned in my two decades as a vegetarian, it’s that people do NOT want to talk about where their food comes from. Especially their meat. When I learned the origin of the pork chop on my plate as a child, I could no longer stomach it. It was not a difficult choice, even then. One diet offers sustenance, the other offers death.
I do not shy away from conversations about the cruelty and abuse that millions of animals face in our factory farms. We vote with our wallets, as I’ve said before. Therefore, I am the perfect audience for The Meat Hunter by Megan Allen because this book refuses to shy away from the truth.
Femme Fatale Meets Charlotte’s Web
We first meet the protagonist Molly Bishop in her youth, laying in a pen beside a now-fat spring pig with tears in her eyes. The scene is grim, and the audience knows why. Today is the day that her father, the farmer, will take her pig to slaughter. Helpless, Molly watches them go. It is clear this is not the first time she has lost a friend in this way.
Cut-to modern day and Molly, now an adult, is out in the woods on the first day of hunting season. She is a quiet huntress, graceful and patient. She watches a family of deer through her precisely-lined crosshairs, setting up her shot. But it is not the deer she’s after… it’s the hunter aiming at them. She kills the man without hesitation, watches the deer run free, and heads back to her car.
It is clear to the reader who Molly values the most, and how far she is willing to go to protect them. It isn’t until the FBI, specifically a dark horse agent named Michael Lair, starts to catch on that Molly begins to cover her tracks.
Someone finally sticks up for the swine
Before I even started the first chapter I knew I was going to love this book for one reason: the dedication. Typically dedications are reserved for someone of incredible importance, especially in your early works. In the second book of Allen’s career she begins with the passage:
“Dedicated to the second pig in line. The one who must watch, and wait, and know.”
That’s right, you read that correctly. She dedicated the entire novel to a pig. Not just any pig, but the second pig in line. This is significant. It shows Allen’s resolve as a person to speak up for animals, pigs in particular. It makes me as a reader feel that Allen is writing this novel for the right reasons. It’s not for us, it’s for them. She wrote it for the pigs.
But this dedication also does justice to the incredible intelligence of pigs. It has been argued that pigs are the most intelligent of all domesticated animals. They’re known to be able to learn and adapt their behaviors, use tools, and create strong emotional bonds. Winston Churchill was known to favor pigs, based solely on their intelligence. Allen is pointing out something that people often choose to forget: the pigs know.
Should we root for Molly Bishop?
Molly uses the tools she has: her successful career in the farm industry, her cunning smarts, and her natural beauty, to take revenge against men who kill animals. It’s clear that Molly is no impulse-killer, her methods are strategic and she only kills those she believes deserve it. She runs on a strong set of morals that fuel her vigilante-style serial killings.
The pros? Molly is a badass female protagonist. As a feminist it is impossible not to admire her siren-like sexuality that she uses to her advantage. When she meets a man who mistreats his animals, she’s able to charm him and lure him to bed. Once they’re literally caught with their pants down, Molly kills them in restitution for all the lives lost at their hands.
The cons? Molly stoops to their level. From an ethical standpoint, it’s hard to ignore the obvious hypocrisy that Molly exudes by taking lives. It brings up a whole host of ethical questions: how many pigs are equal to a man? What if it’s a bad man? But has he broken any laws? Molly sure has… Can we justify the murder of any creature, even a bad one?
The Meat Hunter is a Must-Read
Whether you’re vegan or not, The Meat Hunter is a must-read for 2020. I read the entire book in one sitting because it’s absolutely impossible to put down. You become transfixed by Molly’s confidence and sexuality, but you stick around to watch the cat-and-mouse game between her and Michael Lair.
There is a compelling attraction and respect shared between Molly and Lair, a will-they-won’t-they that’s hard to resist. The tension is like that summer fruit that hangs just beyond the reach of your finger tips, the one you can’t help but stretch for. It’s a game of wits between cop and criminal, one that you have to see play out.
Though the book has an obvious undercurrent of criticism toward factory farming, this book is truly for anyone. If you love thrillers, crime, romance, fatal attraction, or strong female leads, you’ll find all of that in Megan Allen’s latest. The book is brought to us by Burn House Publishing, an interesting indie publisher with the motto:
“Enjoy our stories, or cringe at them. As long as they make you think, and feel, it’s really the same thing.”
Burn House Publishing also produced Megan Allen’s debut novel The Slave Players, which is an equally incredible read.