Can a savage girl, supposedly raised by wolves in the wilderness, be civilized? This is the premise of Jean Zimmerman's second historical thriller Savage Girl. While on a tour of the American West, the wealthy Delegate family discovers a wild girl in a Nevada backwater town freak show. Patriarch Freddy Delegate, an advocate of the new field of psychology, determines that they can change the girl from her "savage" state into a "civilized" person so they decide to take her back to New York to carry out this transformation and integrate her into Manhattan's social elite. Bronwyn, as she soon reveals her name to be, speaks only a few words of Comanche and English, but she is intelligent and learns quickly. She soon becomes the object of much curiosity and admiration in young Hugo Delegate's circle of high society friends. Men are fascinated by her; Hugo falls in love with her but he also realizes that she might not be as innocent as she seems. More than one man who makes advances to Bronwyn suffers a horrible death. Is Bronwyn unable to restrain her savage instinct to kill or is Hugo suffering from mental instability and committing these unspeakable crimes out of jealousy?
Hugo's compelling narrative, from the moment he first sets eyes on "savage girl" to the dramatic finale, seductively draws the reader into an atmospheric historical suspense story played out in the richly detailed settings of the Wild West and Gilded Age New York.
Reviewed by nk, 06/14. Other reviews by nk.