“Sometimes the Wolf” (William Morrow), by Urban Waite
A father-and-son relationship, perhaps broken beyond repair, fuels Urban Waite’s engrossing novel that skillfully exposes the complicated emotions that can stymie a once close family while also working as a superb action-adventure tale.
In “Sometimes the Wolf,” the sins of the father have rained down on Bobby Drake for 12 years. Bobby, a sheriff’s deputy in a small town in the Pacific Northwest, wonders what his life would have been like had his father, Patrick, the town’s former sheriff, not been sent to prison for drug dealing.
Patrick’s “whole identity wrapped up in the fact that he’d smuggled drugs,” with Bobby forever trying “to distance himself from the father everyone could see within him.”
Bobby’s resentment boils when Patrick, newly paroled, comes to live with him and his wife. Bobby wonders if Patrick will continue his criminal ways, while his anger at his father threatens his already strained marriage.
Bobby’s feelings are intensified by the appearance of Frank Driscoll, the DEA agent who arrested Patrick years before. Frank claims Patrick plans to collect the millions he hid — a belief reinforced when Patrick’s two former prison mates show up looking for the drug money. Driscoll also suspects Patrick in the unsolved murder of two men. He implies that Gary Elliot, the current sheriff who was Patrick’s best friend and is now Bobby’s boss, may have been involved.
Workwise, Bobby is tapped to find and save the life of the first wolf seen in the area for 50 years before local ranchers kill it.
“Sometimes the Wolf” moves at a fast clip, combining an action-adventure motif, the mystery genre and realistic plot twists. Waite elegantly uses the wolf as a metaphor for those who are hunting Patrick without belaboring this allusion. The isolated, yet breathtaking Pacific Northwest becomes the perfect background for this story about a son’s feelings of isolation.
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