Reviews for Throw me to the wolves

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

An English detective works to solve a mystery that's shadowed by memories of his boarding school days.A few days before Christmas, a young woman's body, stuffed into a trash bag, is dragged from a river bank in an unnamed city southeast of London. Lead detective Alexander "Ander" Widdowson's search for the perpetrator becomes complicated when his charismatic English teacher from three decades ago, now retired, is identified as the prime suspect. Based on scant physical evidence, the police apprehend Michael Wolphram, the victim's neighbor, a fastidious bachelor with a taste for luxuries "for the ear, the eye and the mind, not for the body," like Wagner's music and "films that have subtitles and last four hours." Almost immediately, the arrest ignites a media frenzy fueled by an unscrupulous reporter with an open checkbook who's happy to compensate anyone even remotely connected to the suspect, at least those willing to dish dirt of dubious quality that will fuel the public's lust for vengeance. With expert pacing, McGuinness (The Last Hundred Days, 2012, etc.) smoothly juxtaposes Ander's doubts that the crime has been so easily solved with flashbacks to memories of Wolphram, fueling his disbelief that his former instructor is a man capable of murder. Ander's colleague Gary, a cynical police veteran with a penchant for handing out dismissive nicknames (Ander is "Prof" in deference to his university degree), brings both street smarts and comic relief to the tale. McGuinness' intelligent prose and his frequent, but unobtrusive, riffs on subjects like instant street shrines to murder victims (the "business of death and mourning as public property, like the Olympics or royalty") or the venom of the British tabloid press, determined to "take a man's past and coat him in guilt," are consistent added pleasures in a novel that layers literary complexity and depth over a fully satisfying crime story.A smart police procedural that deftly integrates its protagonist's past and present in his search for a murderer. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly
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In this cerebral, if less than exciting, procedural from British author McGuinness (The Last Hundred Days), police officers Ander Widderson and his crude, quipping partner, Gary, look into the murder of a young woman whose body was discovered under a bridge in South East England (and about whom the reader learns nothing of consequence). The prime suspect, retired teacher Michael Wolphram, taught at Chapleton College when Ander attended the exclusive boarding school back in the 1980s. Ander's reminiscences about his time as Wolphram's student and the disappearance of his best friend, Danny, from the school provide counterpoint to the present-day investigation. The relationship between Ander and Gary, and that between Ander and Danny, come across with appealing tough-guy tenderness. But McGuinness's choice to center the media's frenzy to scapegoat Wolphram on individual manipulative reporters in print, and not on populist social media, seems quaintly out-of-date. Between musings on the conflict between media coverage and truth, the narrative often feels overly introspective and tensionless, while also failing as social commentary. Agent: Peter Straus, Rogers, Coleridge & White (U.K.). (Apr.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Oxford don McGuinness mixes mystery with reflection in his second novel (following The Last Hundred Days, 2012, which was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize). The title hints at the wonderfully unsettling quality of this mystery. The wolves can refer to predatory men targeting young women, police skewing an investigation for a quick conviction, the rapacious media with a good story in its jaws, or even the bewildering tricks memory can play. Detective Ander is assigned a case involving a brutally murdered young girl. The suspect is Mr. Wolphram (the first wolf reference), now retired, who was one of Ander's teachers at a posh English boarding school 30 years earlier. The case sickens Ander, as do his memories, both insistent and blurry, of institutionally approved abuse and the disappearance of his best friend from the school. McGuinness' portrayal of the British media hounding the suspect builds brilliantly. The story is told from Ander's point of view, which is both fascinating and annoying, since Ander is so prone to reflection. However, the overall effect packs a decidedly noirish punch.--Connie Fletcher Copyright 2010 Booklist

Library Journal
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A young girl is strangled on the banks of the Thames, her dismembered body stuffed in bin bags. The prime suspect is a former teacher at the elite Chapelton College. He's savaged in the press, as well as on social media. Ander, one of the detectives assigned to the case is an "old boy" of the college who remembers the teacher. The story unfolds in two strands, one detailing the media frenzy, the other with the detective's memories of his time at the school in the 1980s with its rampant bullying and political and social troubles. McGuinness settles on what might be the perfect metaphor for his grim portrait of British society, a fatberg, that sewer-blocking, congealed, pulsating body of greasy detritus wrapped around discarded personal hygiene items and garbage bags. VERDICT Familiar plot elements are reinvigorated by McGuinness (a prize-winning poet and author of a previous novel, The Last Hundred Days, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize), his piercingly acute descriptions and telling sense of detail. This novel has the touch of a flayed poet about it, and that's meant in the best sense. [See Prepub Alert, 10/8/18.]-Bob Lunn, Kansas City, MO Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.