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Wolves Dressed as Men Paperback – November 7, 2010
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
"Lowe's characters strike an empathic chord... At the conclusion of Wolves Dressed as Men, I found myself wanting more." - John JAM Miller
From the Inside Flap
"A grim and gritty urban fable with echoes of classic tradition. Lowe knows what makes a great werewolf tale." - DAVID DUNWOODY, author of Empire
"Lowe takes the tense action and brutal violence of quality werewolf fiction, then adds characters the reader will grow to love and hate in equal measure. He strips back the outer flesh and fur of a lycanthrope and delves deep into his protagonist's inner pain, giving the reader a close-up view of the turmoil within the beast and the struggle inside the man. With both horror and humor, and an ending as powerful as it is satisfying, Lowe's novella debut will create many new fans." - KEVIN WALLIS, author of Beneath the Surface of Things
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Dear Stephenie Meyer, Maggie Stiefvater, Jessica Coulter Smith, and, well, everyone back to, and maybe including, Whitley Streiber: this is how you write a werewolf novel. Or, given its length, the outline of one. But seriously, Steve Lowe just kicked all your butts around the room in a steel cage match, and you probably didn't even notice.
Plot: there's a werewolf. He's not too happy with being a werewolf. (Okay, the rest of you lot got that part down.) There is also a Tracker, who's trying to kill the werewolf. (Most of you got that bit, too.) But this werewolf, who goes by the name of Thiess, is confused enough with his werewolf self that he's not acting like a regular werewolf, at least "regular" as defined by the tracker. Thiess lives in the big city, trying to blend in. He's infatuated with Maria, a co-worker (when was the last time one of your werewolves had, you know, a job?), and she's kind of drawn to him, too. Every day after work, he goes to St. Stanislaus, a local church, and begs God for forgiveness for the crimes he commits in wolf form, begs God to lift this affliction from him. You know how well that's going to work. But the longer Thiess is afflicted, the more of his humanity he loses. As a bonus hidden track, there's also a serial arsonist at work in the ghetto where Thiess lives, and he's becoming more and more active as Thiess gets worse. The cops are looking for Thiess, of course, and the arsonist as well in their spare time, but the guy who actually has a chance of finding him is a reporter, once an embedded war correspondent in Afghanistan, now reduced to writing trash articles for a local tabloid. (And if you've never seen the 1983 movie <em>Strange Invaders</em>, do it now. I'll wait. That goes triple if your name is Steve Lowe and you hit on this plot angle by sheer coincidence.)
I've already mentioned the book's major weakness: its length. <em>Wolves Dressed As Men</em> reads far more like an outline than an actual novel. There's so, so, so much more that could have been done with this wonderful mix of characters and situations. The arsonist plotline, especially, is begging for a fuller treatment, and an examination of the parallel between werewolf and arsonist would have been endlessly fascinating, had it appeared. The conflict between the journalist and his buddy on the police force had a few great moments, and could have had much more. Imagine a confrontation between the police and the Tracker... I could go on like this for the rest of the review. This is a sixty-one-page book that could have been ten times as long, and Lowe (<em>Muscle Memory</em>) has the chops to make it work.
On the other hand, what's here is as solid as they come. When you find yourself holding a book this small, what you expect to be leaving behind on the cutting room floor is characterization. And to be sure, these characters could have been more fully fleshed out, but Lowe used a <em>lot</em> of the space here to draw a few of his characters as well as anything you'll find in a major-label novel. The action is believable (as much as can be in a novel about a werewolf living in a ghetto, you understand), the pace is breakneck, the plot is as hooky as the premise would have you believe.
I will continue to live in hope that Lowe eventually comes back to this story and turns it into the epic it so richly deserves to be. I'll buy it all over again, and be thankful for the opportunity, and if a six-hundred-page treatment of <em>Wolves Dressed As Men</em> is as good as a sixty-one-page treatment, there's no chance it won't show up on my best reads of the year list. Until then, I'll be glad I've got what I've got here. *** ½
Wolves Dressed as Men is a change of pace from the typical PNR. Theiss is not a Chippendales model with a chip on his shoulder, and Maria is not a delicate flower with boundless love that can change the world. This novel is gritty, dark, and packed with all the goods you'd expect in a full length book.
My only complaint is the same I have for all of Lowe's stories, and that is "MORE, DAMMIT, I WANT MORE!"
The Tracker understands his form of mercy. Handed down through generations his task has been sent down from God to save the world from the demons of the Devil himself. He will destroy every last one of them and anyone who stands in the way.
Theiss is in need of true mercy. His life has been stripped from him, right down to his very being. He can not recall even his own name. All there is - is right now - and the urges that come in the night. Momentary eases in the anger and pain come in the beautiful form of Maria, a woman who sees the turmoil behind his eyes and resting in his soul.
Jocoby is a journalist who has seen his better days, reduced to writing drivel in a common tabloid. Stumbling across the story that could make his career with this company, he discovers that the unbelievable is happening. The werewolf exists; the werewolf lives. A real story is here, not a manufactured one waiting on the presses. Jacoby starts out to catch the truth, and ends up with more than he can claw his way through.
Although quite short, this book gives plenty of bang for the buck. There is no time in its pages for a lull in the action. Everything is there that is needed, no extra garbage added in to give the author the feel of a "full" novel. This has everything one one quaint, convenient package. The cover is brilliant. The tracker is depicted on the front, outlined and see-though. To me this represents his personality and his purpose perfectly. Noticeable - but without true substance. He was following an old set of laws blindly, mindlessly. The thought of true mercy never crossing his mind.
The depth given to the characters in the book are surprising given the short amount of time we have with each of them, the feelings and thoughts are expressed without many of them saying a word. Steve does not take his audience for fools - having to spell out to the letter what is going on with each of them, giving us a chance to feel it with them through the experience.
A werewolf story truly turns into a thought provoking read in Wolves Dressed as Men. Don't be that lazy reader and let these pages slide by you without picking up the brilliance and subtlety contained between the covers.
I really, really liked this book. Steve Lowe gives you an excellent werewolf story where those who are cursed have no control over the monster living inside of them. With every page I turned I seemed to say "Wow!". The ending will blow you away! I will definite keep an eye out for his next book.