Evasive Species

Fiction - Thriller - General
297 Pages
Reviewed on 03/21/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Stephanie Chapman for Readers' Favorite

In Evasive Species, Bill Byrnes writes the story of Kodra, a Komodo Dragon, and the humans that she encounters after being smuggled into Florida. While Sanchez is giving her food, Kodra bites into his arm. Attempting to free himself, he releases the latch that keeps the massive reptile penned. Kodra rushes off into a canal and vanishes. When Sanchez tells his boss, Kirkland, the hunt begins. Meanwhile, a hungry Kodra begins her hunt. After the mysterious disappearance of two people, the Palm Beach area panics with claims of a man-eating alligator. To throw off the law, Kirkland releases a Nile Crocodile into the reserve, claiming the animal escaped from his reptile zoo. TJ Forte, a specialist in invasive species, is called in by Sheriff Rodriguez. Samantha Brown joins the group in the search. As they discover clues along the way, they realize that they are no longer looking for an alligator. How many people will the Komodo Dragon kill? Will they catch her before she disappears into the Everglades?

I enjoyed how Bill Byrnes gave Kodra a personality. Instead of a mindless creature that just killed, he created her with calculating thoughts and actions. TJ was my favorite character in the story with his empathy for other people, including a boy who was catching Iguanas and selling them. His confidence didn’t waver in the governor's face, even when she fired him from the case. Instead of telling her she couldn’t fire him since he was a federal employee, he let her think she had some sort of authority. The vivid imagery of the surroundings that Kodra entered was easy to envision, and the story flowed well, with enough action and building suspense. The end of the story is left open for a sequel. I also learned several facts about Komodo Dragons, including they can be asexual. As the story progressed, I could see how Kodra learned and could hone her skills, making her a formidable predator. I would recommend Evasive Species to readers who like a story full of action, scenarios of what bringing non-native species into the ecosystem can cause, and crime stories.

K.C. Finn

Evasive Species is a work of fiction in the thriller and suspense subgenres. It is suitable for the general reading audience and was penned by author Bill Byrnes. Set in Florida after a woman and child go missing, wildlife officer TJ Forte is brought in to investigate the possibility they were killed by an alligator. When the remains of the missing are found but this doesn’t fit the profile of an alligator, the investigation gets complicated by a bounty being placed on an escaped crocodile. As TJ continues to search for the truth, a dangerous ex-con trying to hide their animal tracking operation adds a deadly new angle to the case.

This was a complex thriller that consistently found new ways to raise the stakes, add exciting twists to the tale, and deepen the web of intrigue around the animals of Palm Beach County and the criminals who exploit them. Author Bill Byrnes has crafted excellent fast-paced prose that whisks readers through the adventure and wonderfully creates a sense of uncertainty and danger for the protagonists of the story. TJ Forte is a balanced and determined hero who is an easy figure for readers to root for as they seek the truth, and their alliance with the less socially adept Dr. Samantha Brown provided a brilliant contrast in their world views and values. Overall, Evasive Species is a true thriller that leads its readers on a rollercoaster of danger and intrigue that will keep them on their toes, and stay with them long after they finish the final page.

Sheena Monnin

Rarely does a story so thoroughly captivate the reader and build tension on nearly every page the way Evasive Species by Bill Byrnes does. The story is incredibly well-crafted and captures the perspective of a Komodo dragon and several humans, each with different and opposing motives, needs, drives, and capabilities. Evasive Species takes the reader through the journey of an illegally imported Komodo dragon as she seeks to find her way in an urban community inhabited by families, pets, and some wildlife. In her instinctive hunt for food, some surprising victims arise, leading to an international hunt for her. Meanwhile, her former captors scramble to find her after she escapes because deep in her scaly skin is a tracker that could ruin their undercover import operation forever.

I was riveted by each page in Evasive Species by Bill Byrnes. I read it in a single afternoon because I could not put it down! I had to find out what would happen next, and that feeling in the reader means the author has crafted an excellent story. Author Bill Byrnes effortlessly and with just the right amount of detail brings the reader into the mind, feelings, and drives of Kodra, the Komodo dragon. I found myself connected to her very early in the story and became utterly fascinated by her habits, instincts, and reactions to the world around her. I wanted her to succeed, to find a home, to belong somewhere. The author’s ability to create the tension between Kodra and her pursuers was powerful. It is clear the author is a subject matter expert as each detail he highlights feels natural and directly relates to the advancement of the plot. I want to read a sequel of this story and I feel the author sets us up for this potential with his surprising end to this wonderful book.

Shrabastee Chakraborty

As an officer of Florida Fish and Wildlife, Thomas Jefferson “TJ” Forte’s principal responsibility seems to be culling the invasive population of Burmese Pythons. However, everything changes with a phone call from the Sheriff of Palm Beach County. A child goes missing from his backyard, with all shreds of evidence indicating an alligator attack. A couple of days later, a woman is eaten alive. Yet, there is no record of an alligator ever eating a human, nor do they hunt so far from water bodies. If an alligator is not the culprit, what is attacking the humans? Can TJ unravel the mystery before the unknown killer claims its next victim? To know, you have to read Bill Byrnes’ thriller, Evasive Species.

This riveting novel had all the necessary elements to enrapture a reader. The marshy terrain of South Florida, a frequent haunt of deadly snakes and alligators, set up a suspenseful background. I waited with bated breath each time the wildlife experts followed a trail into the wilderness. I never knew what could be waiting at the next turn! With such palpable tension, it seemed that I was watching a movie rather than reading a book. Byrnes’ meticulous research enriched the novel with many intriguing tidbits regarding the ecology and behavior of Floridian fauna. Evasive Species addressed a burning issue in today’s world, namely, animal trafficking. In his novel, Byrnes made the readers evaluate the cruelty of humans from the perspective of an animal. I would recommend this book to anyone who appreciates natural horror books. Those who loved reading or watching Jurassic Park must read this novel.

Samantha Gregory

Evasive Species by Bill Byrnes stars TJ Forte, who works for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. His specialty is evasive species - reptiles who are on the loose outside their regular habitat. When he gets a call from the local sheriff about a possible alligator attack, TJ is skeptical. Alligators rarely leave the water's edge, but something has killed a young boy, snatching him from his own backyard. When he learns of a second attack, this time with a witness, TJ finds himself pulled into an unusual investigation. Along with reptile biologist, Dr. Sam Brown, they attempt to track and stop the creature before it strikes again, though everything isn't as it seems.

Bill Byrnes has written an intriguing story in Evasive Species. It comes across as a B movie-style story, but that is part of its charm. It reminds me of Lake Placid in parts. The characters are well written and the mystery of what the animal is keeps the story moving. It's clear that the author has done the research on these animals and how they operate, rather than simply making it up to fit the story. TJ is an interesting character, a seasoned professional who cares about his job. He works well with the doctor as they try to figure out what type of animal is killing people and how to stop it. They had a great dynamic together. I think this will appeal to thriller and monster story fans. I would recommend it.