“The Wolf Wants In” by Laura McHugh
Slated for publication Aug. 6, 2019, by Spiegel and Grau
In the small rural town of Blackwater, Kan., a young man is found dead in his home, supposedly of natural causes — but Shane Keller’s sister Sadie is convinced that investigators need to dig deeper. She believes drugs may have been involved, and doesn’t trust Shane’s widow, Crystle. But the community’s ill-equipped police force has bigger fish to fry when the remains of a child are found in the woods.
Crystle’s cousin Henley, who seemed to love Shane more than anyone else in the Pettit family, is fighting her own battles. As soon as she can scrape together the money, Henley is determined to get out of Blackwater. But will her wealthy new boyfriend Jason and her dysfunctional, dangerous family ever allow her to leave?
“The Wolf Wants In” captures all the drama of two sides of a family grieving the death of a loved one. One side has questions, the other has secrets.
I’m trying to resist quoting any parts of the book because I know that’s a no-no when dealing with an uncorrected proof (it’s a rule I’ve been known to break now and then … whoops). I’ll paraphrase a passage that gives the novel its title. You can spend your whole life and risk it all in an effort to protect your family and legacy, but what do you do when the wolf — be it addiction, greed, etc. — is already among you?
This is the third novel written by one of my favorite authors, and it did not disappoint. The amount of detail McHugh put into creating the characters, setting and plot was impressive and at times overwhelming. There were moments when certain relationships or information about individual characters were revealed that were interesting “aha!” moments for me. As a native of a small town, I understand the feeling of being connected to everyone else in some way.
The story is told in alternating chapters narrated in first person by Sadie and from a third-person view of Henley. The chapters don’t run in sequential order — Sadie is telling her story after Shane’s death, and we are hearing from Henley beginning in the summer before he dies. But as Henley’s point of view starts to catch up with Sadie’s, that’s when a lot of pieces fall into place.
The pace of the story had me reeling at times. Like McHugh’s first two novels, “The Weight of Blood” and “Arrowood,” I had to resist picking up my tablet to continue reading “The Wolf Wants In” unless I knew I had an hour or two to set aside. This was not something I could read during my 30-minute breaks at work because I’d inevitably have to set it down during a really gripping scene. But the action still unwound slowly enough that I could savor the suspense.
If you think you’re ready to read “The Wolf Wants In,” please do it right. Put your phone on silent and tell the family you need some quiet time. That’s the best way to enjoy a rollercoaster ride like this one.
I received an advance copy of “The Wolf Wants In” from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
About the author
Laura McHugh’s debut novel, The Weight of Blood, won an International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel, a Silver Falchion Award for Best First Novel: Literary Suspense, and the Missouri Author Award for Fiction. It was also nominated for an Alex Award, Barry Award, and GoodReads Choice Award (Best Mystery and Best Debut). Her second novel, Arrowood, was an international bestseller and a finalist for the International Thriller Writers Award for Best Hardcover Novel. Her story “Endgame” has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
McHugh lives in Missouri with her husband and children.