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Friday 19 December 2014
‘Hold the Dark’ by William Giraldi
I started to read this dark, poetic novel and was first of all blown away by the lyrical style of writing, not something I normally expect from a crime novel, then enthralled by the intricacies of the claustrophobic plot. Set in the dark and isolated wastes of the Alaskan tundra, the village of Keelut is surrounded by frozen mountains, home to herds of starving wolves. Two children have already been snatched by the predators; when a third is taken, his mother, Medora Stone, contacts Russell Core, a wolf-expert, for help in avenging the loss of her son by finding and killing the wolves responsible.
Core takes on the challenge, partly to appease his own guilt for earlier transgressions. The people of Keelut do not welcome his appearance, nor does Medora, a fiercely troubled woman, though we do not discover the dark secret which lies at the heart of her troubles until the end of the book. Her husband, Vernon, serving in the desert war, comes home to find his son dead, and a savagely brutal trail of reprisal begins.
The body count is high. Man is revealed as a worse predator than Wolf, often killing for the sake of it, whereas the animal kills only out of necessity. The characters are enigmatic to the point of unfathomability. There is nothing in the least bit warm and fuzzy about this bleak and highly unusual little novel, and I would guarantee that you have never read anything quite like it before, though comparisons have been made with Cormac McCarthy.
Taut, brutal and compelling … read it.
Reviewer: Susan Moody
William Giraldi is author of the novels Busy Monsters and Hold the Dark. He is an editor for the journal AGNI at Boston University, and lives in Boston with his wife and sons.
Susan Moody was born and brought up in Oxford. She has published over 30 crime and suspense novels, including the Penny Wanawake series and the Cassandra Swann bridge series. She is a past Chairman of the British Crime Writers' Association, a member of the Detection Club, a past Writer-in-Residence at the University of Tasmania and a past President of the International Association of Crime Writers. She divides her time between south-west France and south-east Kent. Nominated for the CWA short story award. Nominated for the RNA's award.