LONE WOLF is the third deftly-plotted thriller to feature resourceful park ranger and lupine enthusiast Sebastiano Cangio, set amidst the stunning landscape of the Sibylline National Park in Italy’s glorious Umbria region, where husband-and-wife writing team Michael Jacob and Daniela De Gregorio (aka Michael Gregorio) make their home. The atmospheric rural setting is one of the standout features of the series, and the authors’ intricate knowledge of and deep love for the area shines through the prose.
The action kicks off when a badly burned body is discovered near Stansted Airport and a single clue leads the police to Perugia, Italy. Since he knows the region better than anyone, Seb Cangio is assigned to assist British detective Desmond Harris in his efforts to uncover the dead man’s identity. But as the investigation gets underway, Seb begins to uncover evidence of the return of the dreaded ‘Ndrangheta, the most feared criminal organization in Italy. They’ve tried to kill him before – and Seb knows they will try to kill him again.
From the visually arresting opening chapters with their unnerving portrayal of sudden, unexpected violence, I was drawn in right away and kept gripped throughout as Seb Cangio and the ultra-ambitious Captain Lucia Grossi gradually piece the clues together to reveal the horrifying reason behind the ‘Ndrangheta’s return. Mafia boss Don Michele, with his towering, unpredictable temper and capacity for sudden, ruthless violence makes for a truly chilling villain. Meanwhile the inevitable culture clashes between the British and Italian detectives provide plenty of light relief from the novel’s darker aspects.
A topical, suspenseful and wholly compelling read, I would recommend LONE WOLF to anyone who enjoys an intricately plotted, intelligently written mystery with an unusual, richly evocative setting.
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