Cover image for The lethal gorilla
The lethal gorilla
Zindel, Paul.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Hyperion, [2001]

Physical Description:
137 pages ; 19 cm.
"A scientist at the Bronx Wildlife Conservation Park turns up dead. and P.C. and Mackenzie are sure its no accident..."
General Note:
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.7 5.0 57919.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Mass Market Paperback Young Adult

On Order



A scientist at the Bronx Wildlife Conservation Park turns up dead, and P.C. and Mackenzie are sure it's no accident. There's only one way to get a lethal dose of gorilla blood into an unsuspecting human&mdashon purpose.

Author Notes

Paul Zindel Born on Staten Island, New York, Zindel was raised by a single mother who pursued a variety of odd and mostly unsuccessful jobs and took in terminally ill patients to supplement the family income. Due to her eccentricity and restlessness, the mother moved the family from one apartment to another, making it difficult for Zindel to form lasting friendships. As a consequence, the boy lived in the world of his imagination, developing interests in both science and writing. Zindel majored in chemistry at Wagner College on Staten Island, completing both bachelors and masters degrees. During this period he also took a creative-writing course offered by the playwright Edward Albee. After college he worked briefly as a technical writer for a chemical company and then discovered a more fulfilling vocation as a teacher of chemistry and physics at a Staten Island high school. It was during this period in the early 1960s that Zindel was able to develop his potential as a playwright by drawing on his own background as well as the experiences of his young students. The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds premiered at the Alley Theater in Houston in 1965, was presented in a condensed version on television the following year, and finally opened off-Broadway at the Mercer-O'Casey Theater in 1970. Because of a fire in the theater, the play was moved, with a new cast, to the New Theater on Broadway, where it ran for a total of 819 performances. In addition to being enormously popular, Gamma Rays earned in 1970 an Obie Award as the best play of the season, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award as the best American play, and the Vernon Rice Drama Desk Award for most promising playwright. In 1971 the play was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. Gamma Rays is the story of an embittered, half-mad widow, Beatrice Hunsdorfer; her teenaged daughters, Ruth and Tillie; and Nanny, a decrepit old woman who boards with them. The family lives in chaos, with Beatrice dealing out petty vengeance to everyone. Nanny has been abandoned by her daughter. Ruth is wanton, untidy, and subject to seizures. Tillie, however, has become interested in science and enters her marigold experiment in the science fair; by exposing the marigold seeds to radiation, she shows that some produce normal plants, others produce mutations with beautiful double blooms, while still others die. The metaphor, of course, is that Tillie has emerged from her chaotic environment as a beautiful and whole person, a human "double bloom." Zindel's other plays include And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little (1971), The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild(1973), Let Me Hear You Whisper (1973), and Ladies at the Alamo(1975). While these plays continue to show Zindel's skill in writing excellent roles for women, none of them have matched the critical and popular success of Gamma Rays. Since the late 1960s, Zindel has also written several novels for young adults. The Pigman (1968), which is about a lonely widower and two destructive teenagers, has sold more than 1 million copies. His other novels include My Darling, My Hamburger (1969), I Never Loved Your Mind (1970), Pardon Me, You're Stepping on My Eyeball (1976), Confessions of a Teenage Baboon (1977), and The Undertaker's Gone Bananas (1978). As in Gamma Rays, these works display not only a penchant for grotesque humor but an uncanny awareness of the problems of teenagers. Zindel's works, which also include several screenplays, explore the themes of loneliness, escapism, and eccentricity. His best works are humorous, perceptive, and warm; they present an affirmation of life emerging from desperate and grotesque circumstances. He is especially noted for his excellent women's roles, which has helped sustain him as a best-selling playwright for school and community groups. (Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 6-8. P.C. Hawke is a 15-year-old high-school student cum private detective. He gets access to murder cases through his best friend and detective partner, Mackenzie Riggs, whose mother is the New York City coroner. This new P. C. Hawke mystery involves the death of a much-hated celebrity scientist at the Bronx Zoo. The victim was first chewed on by a jaguar and finished off with a transfusion of gorilla blood. In the course of their investigations, P. C. and Mackenzie are menaced by a dominant silverback gorilla, chased by a madman with a titanium machete, and cornered by a group of jaguars before they are rescued and solve the crime. P. C. describes all of this in a first-person voice that combines contemporary teen jargon with the traditional, super-cool delivery of the hardboiled detective. The contrivances may disappoint some readers, but the exotic zoo setting and exciting action scenes will hook others. --Todd Morning

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-7-Fifteen-year-old P.C. Hawke is a smugly precocious high school student whose friendship with Mackenzie Riggs, daughter of the New York City coroner, provides him with access to crime sites and murder cases. When a much-hated scientist at the Bronx Zoo is murdered with an infusion of gorilla blood, P.C. and Mackenzie use their super sleuth techniques to untangle a web of deceit and identify the killers. Paul Zindel (Hyperion, 2001) stretches credulity to the limit in this contrived tale of revenge. Although narrator Jeff Woodman perfectly captures P.C.'s cynical hardboiled detective delivery (as well as the voices of characters as diverse as the officer in charge of the case, a shockingly disfigured German scientist, and Betty, a woman who works in the primate nursery), even his expert narration wears thin as listeners tire of P.C.'s arrogance and the increasingly unbelievable twists and turns of the convoluted plot. This title will appeal only to diehard fans of the other books in the P.C. Hawke Mysteries series.-Cindy Lombardo, Orrville Public Library, OH(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.