Mo Hayder scares the bejesus out of me.
I've been hooked on her Detective Inspector Jack Caffery series from Birdman, the first book. Wolf is the seventh book. I literally could. not. put. it. down. Every available minute for two days was spent on the edge of my seat.
Hayder masterfully preys upon our fears. Are we truly safe in our homes? Will our past come back to haunt us in ways we can't imagine? Can we ever really put a rational explanation to everything?
"When you're so scared that you'd do anything, anything at all, then we'll tell you what we want..."
I always stop to appreciate the covers of Hayder's book before I turn the first page. There's always a detail that hints at the dark story within. This time it's that splash of red on a picture of a bucolic country home. That - and the flies.
The Turrets is home to the Anchor-Ferrers family. The nearby grounds were home to a horrific crime fourteen years ago. When two policeman come to the door the family is fearful that the killer has been released from prison without their knowing - and that he's back in the neighbourhood.
A homeless man known to Jack as The Walking Man, finds a small dog with a cryptic 'help us' note tucked in his collar. Walking Man promises Jack information if he'll take the note seriously and look for the owners. Jack has been searching for answers to his brother's death for decades. In each book, a clue or a thread is exposed, leading Jack just a little bit closer to the resolution he seeks. In Wolf, Hayder gets us as close as we've ever been. I've loved the Jack Caffery character from the beginning. He's an enigma - flawed, fearless and full of secrets, but a dedicated cop - who plays by his own rules.
Hayder slowly and deliciously builds the tension - it is what might happen that has the reader metaphorically covering their eyes with a pillow. And just when we think we can look - she changes course, taking the narrative in frightening directions I didn't see coming. Hayder's plotting is terrifyingly brilliant. And the ending was perfectly disturbing. Hayder plumbs the depths of the human psyche in both her characters and her crimes. (Gentle readers, this one may not be for you.)
Wolf could be read as a stand alone. But to really come to appreciate this series, I would start with Birdman. Wolf is an absolutely and highly recommended read. Just make sure you lock the doors and turn on the lights. This is one of the best crime fiction series out there.
You can find Mo Hayder on Facebook.