Thursday, December 22, 2011

Kent Meyers, The Work of Wolves

A slender plot-line for its 400+ pages, this novel set in the reservation and ranchland of central South Dakota glows with intensity at each turn. While your desire to know what happens next presses you onward, you pause along with the author to reflect on the thoughts and feelings of the characters who are pulled into the flow of events that begins with the purchase of a horse and leads inevitably to the burning of a house.

There are humor, suspense, family drama, surprises, ironies of all kinds, a smoldering romance, conflicts, animosity, suspense, farce, triumphs and sorrows in Meyers' novel. And all is woven around a continuing meditation on moral complexity and finally the great difficulty of doing the right thing when there are deep emotions, conflicting points of view, and only degrees of violence and loss to choose from.

The four young men at the center of this story, two Indians, a cowboy, and a German exchange student, each bears a legacy of history that pulls them together in the single effort to rescue three horses. Meyers makes them come to life vividly through action, thought, and dialogue. Around them is another dozen or so characters, just as carefully drawn and revealed through illuminating flashes of incident. And as in the author's other work (Light in the Crossing, The River Warren), there is the continuing presence of the landscape and the seasons, as summer turns to autumn and snow-driven winter.

South Dakota, Needles Highway overlook (CC) Vladsinger
Especially interesting is the characterization of the young cowboy, whose ancestry in American literature dates back to Owen Wister's Virginian. Here is that same set of values, courage, pure-heartedness, and self-containment, 100 years later, set in conflict with a cunning villain. It is moving to learn what has become of him.

The Work of Wolves is currently available at amazon, Abebooks, Alibris, and for kindle and the nook. Friday’s Forgotten Books is the bright idea of Patti Abbott over at pattinase.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Coming up: Tom Mix, Sky High (1922)


  1. Your review makes me want to find out what's going on. I'll add it to my list for Santa Claus, if not this year, maybe next year!

  2. Sounds pretty good. But 400+ pages sorta scares me...

    Even good books can sometimes use a trim?

  3. This week (and for the next two, I believe), I'm rounding up the strays. I wonder if I've read Meyers before, perhaps in Craig Johnson's anthologies...

  4. Or, actually, Craig Leslie's anthologies...