I’ve been reading Linwood Barclay‘s books in order. The first two, Bad Move and Bad Guys, feature sci-fi/reporter Zach Walker in domestic mysteries with a tough guy edge. The third Walker book in the series, Lone Wolf, breaks the pattern – no “bad” in the title!
The book differs in other ways, too. It still has the “family in peril” vibe, but in this case, the family is Zach’s father and stepmother, whose peaceful life in the piney woods is threatened by a family of hooligans renting from Zach’s dad. He’s slow to take action to evict them, and the sheriff in town – who looks oddly familiar – is similarly slow to question their story when a man is killed, ostensibly mauled by a bear but more likely the victim of the evil family’s vicious pit bulls.
Where the previous books were funny with a heavy helping of twisty plot and a dash of mayhem, Lone Wolf ratchets up the violence, introduces numerous plot lines with a multiplicity of characters, and pulls back on the funny. Zach is not as quirky as in the previous two books… less personality, more action. The change-up at the end is more disconcerting than surprising. Spoiler alert. Stop reading now if you haven’t read Lone Wolf yet and are planning to do so!
Or, if you’re still reading, you find that yes, it’s true that the reason why Sheriff Orville looks so dang familiar is because he looks like Zach – he’s his half-brother! This makes sense to Zach because he remembers a bad time in his parents’ marriage, when his mother took off for a period of time – she needed time to get over her husband’s infidelity. The twist at the end is that Orville and Zach don’t share a father… they share a mother. Saintly mom was evidently slutty mom. (Dead now, of course, and can’t speak for herself.)
So, all in all, changes in the series are not to my liking. And of course this is one I bought on Kindle because it wasn’t available at the library! Last thought: if anyone can explain the title to me, please do so. I have yet to figure out why the book is called Lone Wolf. I’d have thought Bad Scene. Or Bad Time. Or Bad Family.