Thursday, March 4, 2010

Stabbed in Stanzas Book Review: The Pack: Winter Kill by Mike Oliveri

Reviewed by Karen L. Newman

The werewolves in Mike Oliveri’s book, The Pack: Winter Kill, are not typical. He humanizes them to compare them with the inhumanity of man, which makes for a more terrifying story. He doesn’t link the change to nature, but to human nature, a very unique perspective.
The Pack: Winter Kill reads at first like a typical crime novel, except that it isn’t a whodunit. The reader knows the killers in detail, making them the main focus of the book, even over the heroine, Special Agent Angela Wallace. This perspective is unusual in this genre, but works well here. The real mystery is the identity of the werewolves, which is not revealed until toward the end. In fact, werewolves are not even inferred. Their sudden appearance adds shock to the already high drama, making a lasting impression and whetting the appetite for the upcoming books in the series. The title itself infers more killing to come in other seasons.
The novel has many short chapters where the point of view changes from chapter to chapter, yet Oliveri handles the transitions well. This accelerates the plot. However, Oliveri has a lot of minor characters that are difficult to keep track of at times. The Minnesota woods jump out of the page as more than the setting, but a horror element itself – dark, cold, and isolated. The use of falling snow, especially at the end, is brilliant. Oliveri doesn’t utilize the supernatural as a crutch, a testament to the strength of his writing.
Oliveri has made a wonderful contribution to the werewolf mythos in The Pack: Winter Kill. His exploration of the human condition with that of the supernatural is fascinating and should continue to be so.

-Karen L. Newman