July 15, 2007

BOOKS: Brendan Wolf, Brian Malloy (2007)

It starts as a thriller. Brendan is working as a driver, carrying large bins of pledge money from an anti-abortion walk to the sponsor's office; he has plotted with his brother and sister-in-law to steal that money. We do eventually get a resolution to that plot, but not before jumping back several months to find out how Brendan reached this point.

He is something of a drifter, Brendan Wolf, going from job to job, home to home, name to name ("Brendan Wolf" is just one in a series of false names), without ever settling down or allowing himself to establish any genuine relationships. He lives in emotional isolation; it's not a huge surprise that his favorite book is Into the Wild, the true story of a young man who abandoned society to live in the wilderness of Alaska.

It's a story with lots of unexpected twists and surprises, and the less said about the plot details, the better. Given the noir-type setup, there's surprising humor in the book, and Brendan's struggle to find some way to fit into the world ultimately proves quite moving. By the time we return to the day of that robbery plot, Malloy has done a marvelous job of building suspense. Brendan Wolf is a fine and entertaining novel.

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