Jeff Strand writes irreverent dialogue, and he stuffs Wolf Hunt—a horror novel (although I hesitate to call it that)—with witty repartees between characters both good (in this case: likeable rogues) and bad (Hitler-level evil).
Two low-rent thugs, George and Lou, embark on a simple task: drive a van containing a man in a cage from one part of Florida to another. Ivan, the imprisoned, is a werewolf (no, really, he is) but George and Lou don’t believe it. Disregard the caged prisoner and don’t go near the cage, they’re instructed. Just deliver him to the mysterious person who, presumably, Ivan wants to avoid. But whatever happens—do not open the cage for any reason.
Naturally, they open the cage, and unleash on unsuspecting Florida a serial killer who can transform, at will, into a furry, quick-healing wolf man who mercilessly toys with his prey before dispatching them in gruesome ways.
Wolf Hunt has all the makings of a horror novel save for thing: it’s not particularly scary, in the sense that the movie Midnight Run isn’t scary. But damn is it a great comedy adventure. That’s what I kept thinking while reading about George and Lou imperiling their own debauched lives to save innocent people as they chase Ivan around Florida’s cul-de-sacs, dive bars, highways and swamps.
Just because Wolf Hunt doesn’t scare in the traditional spooky, there’s-something-stalking-the-woods way, it’s nonetheless disturbing—especially when Ivan attacks an innocent woman in her own home. Ivan’s treatment of his victims makes the reader root all the more for George and Lou to catch the hairy bastard.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the werewolf has the most dialogue. Ivan, who’s no slouch, doesn’t shut up when he’s in his human form, and what he spews are either arrogant or despicable taunts. That bastard!
Strand does something I wish more authors would do: he moves the story along with dialogue that’s rarely bland. You won’t find much overly descriptive third-person narration; rather, you’ll enjoy George and Lou struggling to justify their miserable existences, how they want to get out of their criminal lives, and, most importantly, how they plan on bringing down that goddamn bastard Ivan! The back-and-forth between Ivan and George (who serves as the Alpha to Lou) also entertains. You end up caring about George and Lou and that’s because Strand knows how to develop characters, especially babbling, pretentious werewolves. Those looking for hardcore scares won’t find them in Wolf Hunt, but that’s not to diminish its quality as a fun and entertaining (and fast) read. Fans of werewolves won’t go wrong in adding it to their collection.