"Little Wolves," by Thomas Maltman. Soho Press, 335 pp. $25
As a nation, gun violence has risen to the forefront after recent tragedies, specifically in Newtown and Houston. Some may argue that publishing a novel that centers around gun violence in a small town so soon after the events is unfortunate, but I don't believe there could have been a more apt time for Thomas Maltman's "Little Wolves."
Seth Fallon, a young boy in high school, sawed off the barrell of the gun his father had given him for Christmas. He loaded his pockets with shells, and he headed for the pastor's home.
Clara Warren, the young pastor's wife, didn't answer the door. She was writing furiously, desperate to record the stories her father used to tell her as a child.
Seth sauntered through town, twelve-gauge and shells hidden in his trench coat. Will Gunderson stopped, finding it strange that a boy would wear such a heavy coat on a summer day. Seth shot him point blank, then retreated to the meadow where he committed suicide.
In the small town of Lone Mountain, Minnesota, news travels like wildfire. Seth's Father, Grizz, didn't see it coming.
Seth was a boy who cried over the death of a coyote, and who cared for the three remaining cubs until they were old enough to eat solid food. Those coyotes, nicknamed "little wolves" by Seth, never left the mountainside. Several town members saw them as only a nuisance.
Clara insisted they move back to Lone Mountain. Her husband, Logan, had received a call from the town church, but she had her own reasons. Her mother was last seen at the foot of the mountain; her car rolled off the road with a baby in the backseat. The sheriff rescued the baby, who was raised solely by her father. Her father never told her anything else about her mother.
"Little Wolves" offers a story of grittiness of humanity, where anti-heroes arise from the fields. Full of suspense, this novel consistently includes the fog of a supernatural being, though the only presences that show are the ones from within the characters themselves, simultaneously representing dark and light.
Thomas Maltman is also the author of "The Night Birds," which won an Alex Award, a Spur Award, the Friends of American Writers Literary Award and was chosen by the American Library Association as an "Outstanding Book for the College Bound" novel in 2009.
"Little Wolves" is a gorgeously written novel and will leave the reader haunted from the moment they begin.