I downloaded a free edition of A Death On The Wolf by G.M.Frazier purely on the basis of its title. I had never before read a book about werewolves and misreading the title I thought it was somehow connected with death of a wolf.
Only after buying the book, I realized my mistake. But, the cover page advertised it as the winner of Indie Book of 2012 and I thought I should at least read it once.
And as soon as I read the first line, I was hooked. I am a sucker for great openings and after 1984 and Wool, the present novel has the best beginning I have ever read. It set the tone of novel as an intriguing thriller told in the form of a juicy narrative and I got ready to be swayed by a wonderful memoir.
But the surprises didn’t end with just the beginning. In fact in sharp contrast to my expectations of a suspenseful mystery, the storyline kept tracking the daily life of a sweet family in the Southern parts of America. And the Wolf of the title turned out to be a wild river of Mississippi that’s going to play a major role in the story.
As you must have guessed by now, the novel defied all my expectations in a rather positive way. And before I continue to gush over the novel, let me give you a sneak peek into the story.
The story begins in 1969 in Mississippi where soon-to-be sixteen, Nelson is living comfortably with his little sister and loving father. His mother has died long ago and he treats her Aunt Hope as his surrogate mother, living in next house. The Gody family despite a few shortcomings, is wealthy enough to live a good life. They are religious in outlook and compassionate enough to employ old black slave in the Southern America.
In stark contrast to the ominous beginning, the story ran smoothly while Nelson and his friend Frankie grappled with growing up issues and soon enough a romantic twist was introduced in our hero’s life.
But unlike the usual love stories, there was always a hint of mystery in the present novel. Be it Nelson’s strained relations with his best friend or the special bond he shared with the sweet girl brought in his life purely by chance or the mysterious ways of his father while dabbling in masonry, I loved the intermingling of suspense and emotional drama.
In the initial few chapters, I was a bit surprised when no mention of murder of first line was made but soon enough the engaging narrative overcame all my doubts. Be it the first rushes of youth or the mature responsible behavior of Nelson towards his sister, friend and beloved, there was a fresh whiff of innocence in the entire story, something that touched a chord in my heart and made A Death On The Wolf more special.
In a way, the story is a simple memoir but the way Frazier intertwined it with burning topics of 1960s right from homosexuality to slavery to moon landing to hardships faced by small towners in times of a natural calamity, gave an altogether different hue to the melodramatic romance.
Though I could guess the main events long before they happened and towards the end the mystery became too predictable, still the book deserves an applause as the well presented, carefully fabricated narrative added many proverbial feathers to Frazier’s hat.
I couldn’t suppress a wave of admiration for all the technical knowhow of bikes, cars and masonry, the writer exhibited in the novel. The delicacy with which Nelson dealt with his special girlfriend also deserves a mention. Though I didn’t really like the over emphasis on the cyclone, particularly the strangely worded warnings written in italic font that acted more as a hindrance than adding any value to the story.
But at the end of the day, A Death On The Wolf has all the elements of a great read, a perfect potpourri of emotions, drama and suspense. Does deserve one read.