Review of W. D. Gagliani - Wolf's Gambit

At first glance this book didn't fill me with much hope. Stories where the protagonist is a supernatural being fighting against their beastly nature and attempting to make amends as a detective or police officer are hardly groundbreaking. Okay, it's normally a vampire cop but it's not a great leap having a werewolf cop.

Add into it the almost-cringeworthy name of Dominic Lupo (yes, lupo is the Italian word for wolf) and the fact I hadn't read the first book and this was feeling like it was going to be a pretty dismal read. Thankfully it wasn't as bad as I feared.

Nick Lupo is a Milwaukee detective and a werewolf. Every full moon he leaves the city and heads for the wilds of the Eagle River reservation lands where he can unleash his Creature in safety. Or he could, for members of the tribe's council are being murdered, ripped apart in what seems to be an animal attack, and Lupo has to accept the fact that he might not be the only one of his kind.

Sheriff Tom Arnow is an in-comer, a city cop looking for a quiet life in the sticks. Under pressure from the Mayor he needs to stop the murders before every member of the council have been killed.

There isn't all that much to this story, its characters or its setting, that is in any way original. You could pick elements from TV shows like the X-Files, Buffy and Forever Knight, mix it all up and produce a story similar to this. But I can guarantee it wouldn’t be as good.

Gagliani has somehow overcome the book's seemingly insurmountable issues and produced a decent read. Lupo, his girlfriend the reservation doctor, Arnow the sheriff and Sam Waters the tribal elder are all endearing.

The bad guys are not totally one-dimensional, killing-machine monsters. They have personality and their own inter-relational issues - the tension over Alpha-status within the pack is a very nice touch. And the element of mystery about their employer and his unknown motives are all wonderfully done.

These, together with an easy writing style, succeed in making this a fun book, one that can be read independently of the series' first title Wolf's Trap (you can take my word in this, I haven't read it). It's not a book that will set your world on fire. Possibly not even one you will remember overly a year after you've read it. But it is one that will entertain. And sometimes that's exactly what you want from a book.


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