What do you get when you cross the mystery of Criminal Minds with the politics of 24, and then cross that with the terror of Nightmare on Elm Street? Well, you get a story that's a bit uneven, and one which has trouble walking the fine line that is willing suspension of disbelief, but you also get one heck of an interesting read.
Vengeance Of The Wolf is the story of a political assassin who works through his target`s dreams. The story actually starts out with a bang-bang-bang immersion into those dreams, setting up a fantastic mystery of "how" when we discover that the deaths we witnessed don`t correspond to the physical evidence of the bodies. The very concept of being able to break every bone in the human body . . . from the inside . . . through a dream is creepy enough to compel any reader forward.
Enter Detective John Yardley and Agent Frank Williams, the two men charged with stopping the reign of terror before it reaches its ultimate target - the President of the United States. I hate to give away a plot twist, but since this one comes rather early, and since the book ultimately turns upon it, I have to saw I was shocked when they failed in their efforts. I couldn't see how anybody could stop the dreams so quickly, much less how the authorities could figure out the pattern with so little to go on, and was fully prepared for some cheesy bit of deus-ex-machina, followed by a mundane hunt-the-killer story.
Yes, I was shocked to see them fail, but also immensely satisfied to discover the book wasn't heading in the direction I feared.
Dorian is an interesting character, an almost likeable killer with whom you can`t help but sympathise. It takes a while before his motivation is fully revealed, but it worked for me, and really sold me on his cause. Celeste was definitely a surprise, and her role in the story was far from what I expected, based on our early, tantalizing glimpses. Yardley and Williams are a bit more stock in their make-up, and a bit harder to warm up to, but they definitely have the potential to carry a story (should there be another literary chance waiting).
Overall, it's a book that is more creepy than chilling, and one which moved a bit slow for my tastes (once the initial dream immersions were complete). I'm a bit on the fence as to the explanation of "how" Dorian enacted the murders, but it does work, even if it wasn`t necessarily the answer I was looking for.
A good, solid read, with an intriguing concept, and a nice flair for the macabre.