Review of 'The Tenderness of Wolves'

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney

the_tenderness_of_wolves.jpg 1867 in the northern Canada community of Dove River sees the brutal, mysterious murder of a local trapper while sleeping in his cabin followed by the equally mysterious disappearance of a local youth. Are the two connected? Is the youth the killer? Where has he gone? His mother is determined to find out despite her husband's seeming indifference. A group of men from the Hudson's Bay Company are dispatched to help in the investigation along with a man interested in one of the dead trapper's belongings…an unusually scratched piece of bone. What they discover will shock this community to the core. Secrets long hidden and most brutal tragedy.

A “whodunit” unusually set in an usual location, a long time ago, filled with very real, human characters (though not too many to cause those with bad memories…such as myself…issues with remembering who is who). The story is engaging and keeps you guessing up to the, admittedly slightly confusing and abrupt, ending.

“The Tenderness of Wolves” feels quite real with Penney obviously having done her homework (despite being an Edinburgh native). The scenes are often quite vivid and visceral which often is discomforting. Indeed, there are precious few scenes of any great happiness or joy which lends to the general feeling of malaise while reading – We want to know what is happening but we know it is going to be painful to get there. The sparse and bleak nature of the world she is writing about is quite incredible, a world that no longer exists.

An interesting, fairly easy read of an interesting historical era long since gone with believable, human characters.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2020-05-29

Genre: General Fiction

Publisher: Quercus

Publication Date: 2006

ISBN: 9781847240675