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{January 6, 2013}   {ARC Review} Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman

13536606From Goodreads: A tragic act of violence echoes through a small Minnesota town

Set on the Minnesota prairie in the late 1980s during a drought season that’s pushing family farms to the brink, Little Wolves features the intertwining stories of a father searching for answers after his son commits a heinous murder, and a pastor’s wife (and washed-out scholar of early Anglo-Saxon literature) who has returned to the town for mysterious reasons of her own. A penetrating look at small-town America from the award-winning author of The Night Birds, Little Wolves weaves together elements of folklore and Norse mythology while being driven by a powerful murder mystery; a page-turning literary triumph.

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I really enjoyed this novel.  It’s got a little bit of everything: mythology, folklore, murder, mayhem, intrigue, and even magical realism.  All in all, it wraps up to be a very well written psychological thriller focusing on the lives of two seemingly unconnected characters, Grizz and Clara.

The novel opens with a surreal event that seems unrelated to the story on the whole.  We later find out just how much it connects to some of the characters as certain details, easily overlooked, are divulged to the reader throughout the novel.  If one isn’t paying particular attention, the pieces may not add up until quite late in the novel, but for those who pay attention to even the most minute detail, the novel itself will begin to share its secrets quite early on, whispering the truth to us as we read.

Grizz, a middle age man who has found life to be much unkind to him, enters the story upon learning that his son, Seth, has shot the Sherriff in the face at point blank range.  Seth then commits suicide, throwing Grizz’s life, and that of the entire town, into disarray.  Fingers begin to point, and Grizz, like any parent, struggles to understand exactly what happened and why, setting out on a quest to understand what pushed Seth over the edge.

Clara, the wife of a young pastor, moves to Grizz’s small town a few months prior to the shooting and, as the story unfolds, we learn that she has much more to do with the circumstances than even she understands, initially.  Clara also struggles to connect the stories her father told her while growing up to the true events of her life, and as the story unfolds, we learn that not all is what it seems within this town of secrets.

I really enjoyed the characterization and mystery surrounding this novel.  Maltman does a superb job roping the reader into the story, as well as fleshing out the characters and circumstances behind everything, and I truly enjoyed it, though, honestly, I’m not exactly sure what happened at the end.  But, I have an idea that works in my head, and that’s good enough for me.  Four stars.

4 stars

Soho Press has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on January 8, 2013.

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