MysteryPeople Review: WOLF by Mo Hayder

Wolf by Mo Hayder
Review by Molly

Wolf, Mo Hayder’s latest Detective Jack Caffrey thriller, rings true to the series as Hayder delivers her bleakest visions of humanity yet. A family is trapped by psychopaths in a remote manor, and Caffrey must rescue them in order to obtain new information relating to his brother’s childhood disappearance.

This installment veers farther from the traditional police procedural than most. Jack Caffrey is on a quest and this book gives us a glimpse into what he will do for a simple piece of information, including taking off from work without so much as a by-your-leave in order to solve a case in which he has no interest and for which he will not be paid. One the other hand, this piece of information, to Jack Caffery, is very dear indeed.

At first, the book reads a bit like Michael Hoeneker’s film Funny Games – a family trapped in an isolated country house with a pair of sadistic criminals doing whatever they please. However, Mo Hayder is not willing to just leave it there. Soon, a connection appears between the gruesome deaths of two teenagers fourteen years before and the family held hostage in the present day. As you delve further in, the twists, turns, and well-realized motivation become ever more intricate.

Wolf demonstrates, like the previous books in her Caffrey series, that Hayder is a master of the slow reveal, and she adds to this a dizzying set of reversals. She understands the slow pace of police work, but that doesn’t give pause to the driving force of her narrative. Caffery’s process allows time for Hayder to delve into each of her characters’ agendas, and she pays close attention to motivation. She also has a deep respect for the ability of victims and civilians to figure things out for themselves, and, occasionally, to defend themselves. She draws the reader inti the psyche of sociopaths, although making sure to keep the acts of violence as shocking as possible.

Mo Hayder’s is not an easy vision of society. Her crimes are nasty, violent, and not easily solved. Like Hayder’s other work, Wolf has a strong tinge of psychological horror, as well as rather grisly details (figuring prominently in this one – intestines, draped in a heart) and this book is not for the weak of stomach or who mind empathizing with the occasional serial killer or two. Always stylish, always provocative, and with ne’er a dull moment, Wolf does justice to Mo Hayder’s reputation as the creepiest woman in mystery since Patricia Highsmith.

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