You know you're in a Mo Hayder novel when just seconds after the start of the audio the hairs on the back of the neck stand up and the shiver runs deliciously down the spine.
I'm not sure there's anyone doing creepy quite as well as Hayder is doing it right now. This is a writer with a first class degree in the manipulation of the reader's emotions and in particular apprehension and fear. At times during Wolf, I felt I was in the room, in the woods, in danger - waiting , breath held for the axe to fall...
Audio is a particularly good medium for scary. There are fewer escape routes available to the listener than there are to a reader and a strong performance can enhance the drama and compound the tension.
Hayder had a considerable ally in this enterpire in narrator Jot Davies, who eloquently and skilfully paces the story and brings the fear to the surface in the way that music so often does in film. In a story told from multiple viewpoints, Davies also brings character to the main protagonists.
Wolf is the seventh title in the consistently excellent and disarming Jack Caffrey series. The over-arching narrative arc is now well established, with Caffrey driven onwards by his obsession with discovering the fate of his brother, who was snatched as a child by paedophiles. This storyline plays a major role here as The Walking Man, a vagrant driven by similar demons and a confidant/antagonist of Caffrey's, promises the detective some vital information about his brother if he investigates the strange appearance of a dog with a tag around its neck reading "Help Us".
The note originated from a remote and secluded house where a family is embroiled in a terrifying ordeal at the hands of two unknown men, holding them for unknown purposes. Caffrey, with very little to go on, is in a race against time to find and rescue them.
Wolf , in part, is an exploration of fear, as Hayder takes the reader under the skin of the various actors in the play: the father of the family held hostage worried for his wife and daughter; the man who is holding them, outwardly calm and in control, but inside all uncertainty and doubt; and finally Caffrey, who fears he will never discover what happened to his brother Ewen.
Wolf is smart, well-paced and always unnerving. Don't read it in the dark...
Review of previous Mo Hayder novel