Review: “Little Wolves” by Thomas Maltman

“Little Wolves” was a recent find on Net Galley. It tells several story lines in one (a point which at times served to confuse me!). The novel opens with a Minnesotra small town shooting, carried out by a teenager who then commits suicide. Why did he do this heinous act? How will the people left behind carry on and make sense of this tragedy? At the same time, his father is struggling to come to terms with his grief over his wife’s death — now compounded by the senseless death of his son. Small town rivalries and old hurts are cropping up all over.

On the other side of town, the preacher’s wife, who is in her last trimester of pregnancy, is dealing with the deaths, too. The shooter was her student and a valued member of her English class (she is an expert on Beowulf). She grapples with his act of violence and the fact that he had come to house that day on his way to the carnage – and is it her ghost she is seeing? At the same time she is working through the kinks in her marriage to the town minister and her past family secrets, related to the disappearance and death of her mother. Analogous to all these plot lines is Norse mythology and the story of the “little wolves” that her father told her as a child. Throughout the book, a family of coyotes (befriended by Seth previously) make an appearance.

Does all this sound confusing? At times I had a hard time keeping everything straight, but overall Maltman blends these parallel stories into the overall plot – seamlessly and suspensefully. I kept reading as I needed to know what would happen. In the end it all made sense, and I found it a satisfying read.

Thanks, Net Galley and Soho Press, for my copy!

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