Monday, 13 October 2014

Review: Bad Wolf by Tim McGregor

Tim McGregor's Bad Wolf is the first part of his Bad Wolf Chronicles, but works very well as a stand-alone novel. Set in Portland, Oregon, the story follows Homicide Detectives Lara Mendes and John Gallagher as they try to track down an apparent serial killer who uses dogs to bring down his victims.

The first third of the novel is very much a police procedural as the detectives formulate theories and collect evidence. It is only when the detectives begin to suspect that they are hunting something more than a regular serial killer that the story picks up pace. For me, that was also the point when it became interesting. The first third certainly sets up the characters very well, and allows a look into police procedures, but I suspect that the section would not have been diminished if it had been cut down a little bit. As it is, you get some repetition as the author makes sure that you know the characters and their thoughts.

The story takes a few very satisfying turns, showing that the author did not want to merely tell the most stereotypical story from a new perspective, but had some new ideas to add to the mix. This is certainly the best quality of the novel and makes you forgive the author for the first third, the repetition and his love for synonym dictionaries and obscure word choices that he makes every now and then. 'Sklathing' was one of the obscure words that the author really seemed to love. There were also several typos and grammar errors in the work that destroyed the immersion every now and then. One especially annoying was the use of "could of" instead of "could have".

What was not convincing in the novel was the tagged on romance between Mendes and Gallagher. Their different approaches to police work were set up very well, and Mendes' dislike towards Gallagher's methods was obvious. The choice to turn this into the stereotypical "dislike turns into love" story was not really welcome.

McGregor's concept of werewolf is very traditional for anyone familiar with horror movies: huge bipedal creatures overcome by their desire for blood and violence. There's a small hint that the concept might evolve in the sequels, but that may be my wishful thinking.

However, despite the criticism given above, I was pretty satisfied with the book. The latter half of the novel moves along very nicely and the story takes some exciting turns - and you are never sure which characters will make it through to the end. If you are a werewolf fan, this is certainly worth your time.