Wolf’s Revenge

by Lachlan Smith
The Mysterious Press, October 2017, $25

In author Lachlan Smith’s fifth Leo Maxwell legal thriller, the metaphorical noose around Maxwell’s family grows ever tighter. The entire family is under the thumb of the Aryan Brotherhood, a situation that grows more untenable when Leo’s young niece is kidnapped (then returned) at a baseball game in a show of intimidation—a lesson to show Leo’s family can be gotten to at any time.

You see, the Brotherhood sends Leo their criminal cases, and the latest one involves the killing of one of their members. But the logic of the case doesn’t seem to add up. The woman charged with the killing is black, so why is the Aryan Brotherhood paying for her defense? Why won’t his client tell anyone her real name? Why is the FBI involved in the case, yet doing nothing to help?

The search for answers leads him into more conflict with those holding his leash. When a further tragedy occurs, it spurs Leo into looking for an endgame to get out from under those who seek to control him and his family. But when neither your criminal employers nor law enforcement can be trusted, how do you protect anyone from harm?

The book’s pacing moves along at a fast clip, with short time jumps that account for how fast the story gets to the criminal trial. While the trial feels more like a set piece designed to further the resolution to Maxwell’s personal issues, the humdrum of basic procedural as it moves to the fireworks of revelatory testimony is detailed rather well.

There aren’t a whole lot of innocents in Wolf’s Revenge, which does make it hard to root for any one particular character or outcome, but readers will find themselves inexorably drawn toward the book’s explosive conclusion. Readers looking for a clear-cut resolution to the story’s narrative will find that, despite some truths being exposed, there are no easy answers here. But this particular storytelling decision helps give the book that much more of a suspenseful draw.

Jay Roberts
Teri Duerr
October 2017
The Mysterious Press