Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney

The Tenderness of Wolves begins with a murder. The scalped body of a trapper, Laurent Jammet, is discovered in his cabin in the backwoods of Dove River, in the Canadian Northern Territories. The woman that discovers the body, Mrs. Ross, soon finds that her son, Francis, is missing and that the authorities investigating suspect that Francis is the murderer. However, conflicting motives swirl around the case. The authorities are actually representatives of the Hudson Bay Company and Jammet was in the process of setting up a competing company. Soon, Mrs. Ross, Donald Moody, a Hudson Bay Company man, and Parker, a local guide and also a suspect in the murder, all set off across the snowy wilderness in pursuit of Francis and, Mrs. Ross hopes, the real killer.

The author, Stef Penney, beautifully evokes the blustery, snowy, frigid Canadian wilderness. This is an especially impressive feat given that Penney, an agoraphobe, has never visited Canada, and wrote to book on the strength of research done in the libraries of London. Well plotted and engaging, the only weakness is that several plot lines are left completely unresolved at the close of the book. However, if you can stand the lack of closure, I would highly recommend reading The Tenderness of Wolves for its evocation of the frigid Canadian winter alone.


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