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Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman


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

“This novel churns with the tension of a building prairie thunderstorm. Tom Maltman knows that dark truths can be hidden under open skies, and he knows the secrets of the bloodstained ax in the barn.”
John Reimringer, author of Vestments“Smart thrills.”
—Library Journal“The poetry of this prose and the suspense of the plot, along with the intensity of characterization will have many readers comparing Thomas Maltman to Cormac McCarthy—that greatest of compliments—for very good reason. This novel is a work of high art by the real thing.”
Laura Kasischke, author of Space, in Chains and The Life Before Her Eyes

“A complicated portrait of a prairie town, a meditation on violence, a fantasia of myth and folklore, and a knockout murder mystery, Little Wolves is haunting, at times terrifying, a gothic cousin to Kent Haruf’s Plainsong. I loved this book.”
Benjamin Percy, author of Red Moon, The Wilding and Refresh, Refresh

“Everything about this book asks us to examine life more closely.”
Elizabeth Cox, Author of The Slow Moon

“My overwhelming sensation upon reading this book is that it is a masterwork of fiction. Not just a good book that’s interesting on multiple levels, but a great book that will stand the test of time. From the rich setting to the compelling characters, from the subtle but very powerful thread that fairy tales weave throughout the narrative to the suggestive implications of the power of story, I was completely spellbound. Add to this the mysteries surrounding the town and characters, and I felt, often, as though I were reading some contemporary version of Dosteovesky.”
Peter Geye, author of Safe from the Sea

“Absolutely fantastic. Unnerving, gorgeously written…. The writing is haunting.”
Caroline Leavitt, author of Pictures of You



My Review

This story emerges from a town in a wilderness, a small community struck with a death that unearths many dark secrets that lie amongst kin and a community framework. In this town everybody thinks they know everything about everybody, but time will show that there are many lies and things that have happened with darker truths behind them and that maybe only a few are aware of as they insidiously show themselves.
Amongst the preconceived opinions and prejudices this community has, like many other have in any community setting, there are more forces at work that don’t exist in a realistic non-fiction world.
As one father tries to uncover and revisit his sons footsteps pre-incident he finds that there is more questions needing answering, many others start dropping clues and answers he finds himself uncovering a history and a present reality that most people would like kept hidden. This is what hooks the reader in this enjoyable captivating thriller with mythical elements.

As the story unfolded i felt there was a few places where matters needed more elaboration as some answers were thrown at you and I felt they would have worked with more depth in explaining their How and Why.

The story was written with a great sense of place and memorable characters.
An ambitious feat to take on, mixing many elements of a storytelling: thrill, literal, and the mythical kind, the author pulled it off successfully with characters that go through prejudices, lies, trust, loss, parenthood, love and forgiveness.

“loup garou”

“She set the dictionary down on the bottom stair and knelt beside the kittens. They had exchanged the warm seas of their mother for this cold ground, this blinding light. The cries they made were the cries of any newborn thing. This is what she discovered two nights after the murder: In birth all things are kindred, the sounds we make universal to any species. We enter wailing of a lost world.”

Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 15 January 2013