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The Saint of Wolves and Butchers

Review

The Saint of Wolves and Butchers

After reading just the first few paragraphs of THE SAINT OF WOLVES AND BUTCHERS, you get the sense that you are on the cusp of experiencing something special. That promise is kept throughout this fine contemporary thriller by Alex Grecian, who is known for his critically acclaimed Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad series set in the late 19th century. While his latest novel occasionally jumps back to the mid- to late 20th century, the majority of it takes place in the immediate to very-near future of November 2018, and in rural Kansas as opposed to London and its surrounding environs. This impressive title should draw readers of Grecian’s older work while creating new fans by the truckload.

The premise of THE SAINT OF WOLVES AND BUTCHERS is fairly simple. A Nazi doctor named Rudolph Bormann patiently made his way northward from South America and entered the United States in 1951 under the name Rudy Goodman. The newly minted Goodman, flush with cash from a horrifying source, settled in the rural Kansas town of Paradise Flats with the assistance of Jacob Meyer, a Nazi sympathizer. Goodman basically hid in plain sight, marrying a woman named Magda and raising a family, initially working a farm. Goodman and Meyer also engaged in some extracurricular activities that are only hinted at but are revealed over the course of the story.

"I loved every word of this book. It’s perfectly paced, nicely detailed, and terrifying and tender by turns in all of the right places. At a few points, it reminded me of a collaboration between Stephen King and Lee Child."

In the book’s present, Travis Roan is introduced to us when he is stopped by Kansas State Trooper Skottie Foster for failing to have his dog on a leash. Travis is a stranger to the area, but we gradually learn that he is on a double mission. He is there on behalf of his family’s organization, which locates bad people, including ex-Nazis. The foundation had been notified of a sighting of Rudolph Bormann in rural Kansas. Travis’ father went to Kansas in search of Bormann and promptly disappeared, causing Travis to travel there with his Bear --- his faithful, lovable, intelligent and extremely dangerous dog --- in hopes of locating the senior Roan and the elusive Bormann.

Bormann, now Goodman, is no longer a farmer. Instead he has started a very successful church in the area that more or less has converted Paradise Flats into a company town. The church provides deep cover for Goodman’s activities and those of one of his sons, who has started a monstrous side business of his own.

Travis enlists the initially reluctant Foster into his cause, which is quite the feat, considering that Foster is a bit of a fish out of water herself, despite having been born in Paradise Flats. She has returned to her hometown with her daughter following the breakup of her marriage and is living in close quarters with her mother, Emmaline, who is the quiet secondary rock of the book. A close second is Bear, who is a scene stealer even when he is off the page.

Those who share the view that rural communities often (though not always) hide the commitment of vile deeds beneath a quiet and peaceful veneer will find much to love in THE SAINT OF WOLVES AND BUTCHERS. They will especially appreciate the ending, which ties up just enough plot lines to make this volume complete in itself while leaving a couple of matters open in the event that Grecian wants to revisit Paradise Flats and this unforgettable cast of characters.

I loved every word of this book. It’s perfectly paced, nicely detailed, and terrifying and tender by turns in all of the right places. At a few points, it reminded me of a collaboration between Stephen King and Lee Child. See if you don’t agree.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on April 20, 2018

The Saint of Wolves and Butchers
by Alex Grecian

  • Publication Date: April 17, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 039917611X
  • ISBN-13: 9780399176111