The Werewolf Solution is a solid,
well-paced murder mystery; it kept my
interest, engaged me with the
characters and made me genuinely
concerned with the story’s unfolding.
Review by Paul West, author of First Cause
Joshua Grover-David Patterson’s The Werewolf Solution takes a few pages to grow on you. The writing style is a bit uneven at first, jumping too quickly between cheeky colloquialisms–”that was all she wrote for Earl”–and almost self-consciously stiff prose. A few of the metaphors are odd, and some seem a bit forced. Yet despite the above, the story had a suspenseful air from the outset, and its pacing seemed to have promise. As the story continued, I was thoroughly engaged; The Werewolf Solution’s strengths began to clearly outpace its weaknesses. The Werewolf Solution kept my interest, engaged me with the characters and made me genuinely concerned with how the story was unfolding.
The novel begins with an attempted break-in, and this foreshadows the nature of the story. The Werewolf Solution is mainly a murder mystery, set in the aftermath of the official “outing” of werewolves; the whodunit aspect is well rendered, using a variety of devices — flashbacks, news articles and ‘primary sources’ — to maintain the suspense while doling out clues to both the reader and the characters. The characters are solid, relatable and believable, if not overwhelmingly complex: Ted, a werewolf therapist (you’ll have to read it to understand how that makes sense) who’s estranged from his wife and unwillingly separated from his son; half-brothers Seth and Lewis Pine; and Wendy Nix, a woman who insinuated herself into Ted’s life. The supporting characters help to flesh out the backdrop of the story and its devices, and as the novel moves along we have most of our questions answered in fairly typical but nicely rendered whodunit form.
There’s a scene that’s a little bit too classic movie-villain, where the man behind the scheme fully explains his plan to the tied-up good guy when he thinks he’s sealed his victory, because the plan’s just so doggone good he has to tell someone. The thing is, though this is indeed an overused and painfully clichéd device, people really are that dumb in situations where they think they’re about to pull off something like a foolproof crime — and the fact that the ‘bad guy’ explains himself as such, instead of just doing it out of ‘bad guy’ taunting or some misplaced animosity, takes the cringe out of the scene just a bit. The novel also seems to wrap up a bit quickly, but not so quickly as to feel artificial. The final scene reads like the closing scene of a movie whodunit, which certainly isn’t bad.
Overall, The Werewolf Solution is a solid, well-paced murder mystery. Its supernatural/speculative backdrop sets up some interesting thematic undercurrents — related to identity, otherness and fear, themes often capably explored by purveyors of the supernatural — that I wished it had explored more deeply; this begs the question of whether the themes were meant as the vehicle for the story, or the other way around. In its defense, The Werewolf Solution is a short novel, and a sequel — for which there is definitely room — would afford opportunities for further thematic exploration. Either way, I was engaged, encouraged to think, and suitably entertained.