The Wolf Wants In
by Laura McHugh
Spiegel & Grau New York
Publication Date : August 6, 2019
Pages : 272
Synopsis From Publisher:
Sadie Keller is determined to find out how her brother died, even if no one else thinks it's worth investigating. Untimely deaths are all too common in rural Blackwater, Kansas, where crime and overdoses are on the rise, and the small-town police force is consumed with the recent discovery of a child's skull in the woods. Sadie is on her own, delving into the dark corners of a life her brother kept hidden and unearthing more questions than answers.
Eighteen-year-old Henley Pettit knows more than she'd like to about the seedy side of Blackwater, and she's desperate to escape before she's irreparably entangled in her family's crimes. She dreams of disappearing and leaving her old life behind, but shedding the past is never easy, and getting out of town will be far more dangerous than she ever imagined.
As more bones are found in the woods, time is running out for Sadie to uncover the truth and for Henley to make her escape. Both women are torn between family loyalties and the weight of the secrets they carry, knowing full well that while some secrets are hard to live with, others will get you killed.
This past July I had the opportunity to attend a panel on which Laura McHugh spoke about her latest novel, The Wolf Wants In. During the panel McHugh’s personal connection to her book and characters was palpable. McHugh spoke of how she dealt with the effects of sudden death. After McHugh’s panel, I immediately purchased The Wolf Wants In. The Wolf Wants In is the story of a sister’s love, loss, and guilt.
One month after the unexpected death of her brother Shane, Sadie Keller still has plenty of questions about Shane’s death. But all her attempts to get answers are dismissed or seen as a grieving family member unable accept reality. Sadie refuses to let her concerns be discounted. She continues to follow her own leads and question anyone linked to Shane. As Sadie digs deeper into Shanes life she realizes her brother was connected to some very dangerous people. People who may have benefited from Shane’s death and who will make sure what Shane knew stays buried.
The Wolf Wants In takes place in the town of Blackwater Kanas. Blackwater is a small town which was once a thriving farming community, but has now been overtaken by overdoses and drug related crime. Blackwater could be any small town in the United States. Unfortunately most people have been touched by the opioid crisis in recent years. This element makes The Wolf Wants In instantly relatable and realistic.
Sadie is one of two main characters in The Wolf Wants In. Sadie’s story runs parallel with eighteen-year old Henley Petit. The Petits are well known throughout Blackwater for all the wrong reasons. Henley is struggling with loyalty to her family and the desire for a better life. A life where she is not seen as only a Petit. Although Sadie and Henley are on two different paths, Shane’s death unknowingly connects them. McHugh expertly weaves Sadie’s and Henley’s stories together creating a riveting read.
Although The Wolf Wants In is a tragic story, there is one bright spot. An elderly dog named Gravy. Dog lovers - Don’t fear, Gravy is fine. Gravy was Shane’s dog; after his death Sadie took him in. The dog has a huge list of health problems yet Sadie has an endless amount of patience and understanding. Sadie’s and Shane’s relationship had grown a bit distant in the months leading up to his death. I believe Sadie views Gravy as her last chance to reconnect with her brother. Gravy is Sadie’s way to ease the guilt she feels for her absence from Shane’s life when he clearly needed her the most. She was not there for Shane, but she can be there for Gravy.
The Wolf Wants In deals with some tragic and very relevant subject matter. Issues which if discussed with insensitivity could possibly turn a reader off. However McHugh tackles these difficult subjects with tact, sensitivity, and a touch of good humor and hope.
Murder and Moore Rating :
5 out of 5 Stars