Neanderthal Man – Cay Gould

(Reviewed by JD Jung)

“Among all the things she told herself about Adam Savent, imagined about him, she just never got so far as to confront what she knew and should have confessed to someone, anyone, her knowledge that Adam Savent had always been a homicidal madman.”

Now it is 1997 and Adam Savent , self-named “Neanderthal Man” , and professor of paleontology at the University of Iowa is accused of killing at least eighteen women over a twenty five year period.

For Maggie, it started at her small college in 1972 . Adam was a housemate of hers along with several others. They also encountered his anger and violence along with his strange theories, but still did or said nothing. Maybe he was just “overly passionate” about his beliefs. Twenty five years later, what responsibility does she take for her silence?

Even though most of the story takes place in just that one year, this short novel kept me on the edge of my seat. We learn of Adam’s inner struggle with believing that his Neanderthal soul is trapped in a twentieth century body ; and in a global sense how Modern vs. Neanderthal man challenges the natural order of things. Though some of the novel is from Adam’s perspective, and some from that of  the other roommates, most of it is from Maggie’s point of view during that year. She questions herself about being too judgmental. Should she just accept others as they are?

Though we discover  Adam’s motives and belief system, I would have liked to seen an in-depth study into this serial killer and his actions after college up until his arrest. Maybe author Cay Gould will consider that for another book. I do realize though, that it was not the point of this one.

Instead, we need to question our acceptance of evil,  and,  not to over simply the issue, apply the adage, “If you see something, say something.”

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