Thursday, May 15, 2014

Book Review - Wolf

Wolf – Mo Hayder

Mo Hayder is one of my all time favourites. As much as I enjoy the Jack Caffrey series, I have to admit that it sometimes lacks direction. He started off at a standard detective who was haunted by an incident in his past. He then moved out of London and the series became known as the “Travelling Man.” This involved Caffrey conversing regularly with a vagrant who seemed to have a lot of answers. The series also introduced Flea Marley who was a welcome addition. Over the last few novels, the series dropped the “Travelling man” moniker and the vagrant featured less prominently. Rather than this all be a natural evolution in the series, it seemed like the series had several new starts.

The Blurb:

I believe, from what I can hear, that either my daughter or my wife has just been attacked. I don't know the outcome. The house is silent.

Fourteen years ago two teenage lovers were brutally murdered in a patch of remote woodland. The prime suspect confessed to the crimes and was imprisoned.

Now, one family is still trying to put the memory of the killings behind them. But at their isolated hilltop house . . . the nightmare is about to return.
My reviews all follow the same format for a reason. The opening paragraph gives you an insight as to how I am feeling towards the book I am about to read. This is to help you understand my state of mind as I read the book. I am pleased I highlighted this above because it seemed Mo Hayder felt the same. Where I thought the Jack Caffrey series lacked direction “Wolf” refocuses the series whilst acknowledging all that had come before.

“Wolf” sees Jack Caffrey disillusioned with his life and assessing his priorities. He is haunted still by the unsolved disappearance of his brother Ewan and is determined to remedy the gaping void this leaves in his life. This decision sees him evaluate his life and revisit past evidence. It is the perfect solution to what the series needed.

However despite this much needed injection of impetus for a long period Jack does not feature in this novel. After an excellent opening chapter, the book focussed on a rich family who are held hostage in their home. The book is unique in that it is told from the point of view of all five individuals involved in the situation.

The two aggressors are portrayed in a realistic manner and come across as fallible. It is nice to see as normally the antagonists are quite cartoonish. Whilst they appear efficient to the family they are terrorising when we are shown what is going on in their own heads, we get to see how insecure and uneasy they are of the situation and of each other.

Oliver the father is perhaps the best portrayed of the victims. He has a heart problem and not only has to contend with the fear of his family’s safety but also worry about his own body betraying him. He decides to concentrate his time on imagining the detective that will find him and how he can help him solve the crime.

Jack’s inevitable involvement in the plot is compelling and it is good to see him with a strong purpose for a change. He has always been tenacious and determined but now he has a focus in his personal life that makes him easier to like.

Inevitably the two plots meet but Mo Hayder does an excellent job of letting keeping the threads apart. It works well as we experience Caffrey’s frustration at following a tenuous lead based on the limited information the Walking Man provides him. This spills over and we get to witness Jack experience a different emotion towards the Walking Man other than respect. It also allows the hostage thread to breathe and develop organically which it definitely benefits from.

The ending is fantastic. Mo Hayder’s novels are always engrossing but the twists and turns in this one are superb. I always mention Hayder’s ability to leave her novels on a chilling note. Two of the previous books in the series have endings that have stayed with me for a long time. This one rivals both of them.

All in all, “Wolf” is a fantastic novel and sees Hayder at the very top of her game. The series is pulled together nicely and is concluded in a satisfying way so the next one can start a fresh.

My rating: 9.3