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Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman

By Pamelascott


Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman

Soho Press (hardback), 2013  

352 pages

This is a library book borrowed from The Mitchell Library (


A tragic act of violence echoes through a small Minnesota town.

Set on the Minnesota prairie in the late 1980s during a drought season that’s pushing family farms to the brink, Little Wolves features the intertwining stories of a father searching for answers after his son commits a heinous murder, and a pastor’s wife (and washed-out scholar of early Anglo-Saxon literature) who has returned to the town for mysterious reasons of her own. A penetrating look at small-town America from the award-winning author of The Night Birds, Little Wolves weaves together elements of folklore and Norse mythology while being driven by a powerful murder mystery; a page-turning literary triumph. 


She heard him from the mountain, a voice high and thin, breaking the night’s quiet. The cry was such as her own children made when she was gone too long searching for food to bring back to the den. It was the cry of something blind and helpless, a cry of hunger. She heard it and she could do no other thing but go toward it. 


I loved Little Wolves. Maltman offers an original crime novel with a literary twist. One of the most enjoyable things about Little Wolves was the setting. Maltman perfectly captures the remote wilderness of the prairies. I didn’t realize the novel was set in the 1980’s because it reads as a historical piece. I thought Little Wolves was set in the 1800’s. Little Wolves reminds me of The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney.  Both novels are set in remote places torn apart by a terrible crime. I thought the characters were great in Little Wolves. My favorite was the Pastor’s wife. She didn’t seem to fit the idea of someone who would be married to a Pastor. I loved it when Maltman reveals who her mother was and her connection to the village of Lone Mountain and current events. There’s a sense of mystery running through Little Wolves. Why did young Seth kill the sheriff and take his own life? Why does the Pastor’s wife feel guilty? What really went on in the Sheriff’s cabin out in the woods? Why have the coyotes young Seth raised from birth suddenly turned predatory?  Not all of the questions raised are answered but I can live with that. Maltman perfectly captures the paranoia of a small, remote village. I really felt for Seth’s father when he learns the council have decided to bury his son in a mass grave with other people who have committed suicide so he won’t taint the ground. His pain as he fought to have his son buried in the family plot was heart-breaking. Maltman does not reveal what really happened the night of Seth’s suicide until the last couple of chapters. I was completely taken by surprise when the truth is revealed. I was pleased Seth’s father survived after being lured somewhere and knocked into a tar-pit and seemingly drowns. I loved the ending of Little Wolves.





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