Hall of Fame Review: The Wolf by Lorenzo Carcaterra (5/5)

Wednesday 3 September 2014
In this thrilling novel by Lorenzo Carcaterra—the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Sleepers, Gangster, and Midnight Angels—organized crime goes to war with international terrorism in the name of one man’s quest for revenge.

My name is Vincent Marelli, though most people call me The Wolf. You’ve never met me, and if you’re lucky you never will. But in more ways than you could think of, I own you.

I run the biggest criminal operation in the world. We’re invisible but we’re everywhere. Wherever you go, whatever you do, however it is you spend your money, a piece of it lands in our pockets.

You would think that with that kind of power I would be invincible. You would be wrong. I made a mistake, one that a guy like me can never afford to make. I let my guard down. And because I did, my wife and daughters are gone. Murdered by terrorists with a lethal ax to grind.

That was my mistake.

But it was also theirs.

I wasn’t looking for a war with them. No one in my group was. But they’ve left me with nothing but a desire for revenge—so a war is what they’ll get. The full strength of international organized crime against every known terrorist group working today. Crime versus chaos.

We will protect our interests, and I will protect my son. We won’t get them all, but I will get my revenge, or I will die trying.

They will know my name.

They will feel my wrath.

They will fear The Wolf.

Lorenzo Carcaterra is one of my favourite authors and a new book has been a long time coming and I'm glad to say that it did not disappoint. If ever a book was just perfect to be made into a film then it is this one. There's so many scenes and lines that could be quoted it's ridiculous. I went into this book hoping for something similar to one of my favourite books of all time, The Godfather and it was.

The idea is Vincent Marelli (The Wolf) heads up a crime syndicate formed of all the various crime families and organizations around the world. They control pretty much everything and take a dollar from virtually every transaction in the world. They deal with insane amounts of money and up to now it has been a success. Then Vincent's wife and daughters die when a plane is taken over by terrorists. Meanwhile the Russians are funding terrorists to carry attacks out around the world and Vincent wants to stop this whilst at the same time avenging the death of his family.

The chapters from the point of view of the Wolf were almost like the narration of a film - you could almost hear Vincent's voice in your head whilst at the same time vividly picturing the scenes he was telling you about. That for me added to the excitement of the novel and made it seem more authentic and 'real', yes it's fiction but at times it came across as fact as the character of Vincent was so well created. 

The idea of an organization like this is both fascinating and horrifying. It would change the world as we know it in good ways but mostly in bad ways. On paper the idea works but what are the realistic chances of the Yakuza, Triads, Greeks etc all pooling their resources together? Very slim and so for that reason there is a definite suspension of belief regarding that aspect but this is fiction and definitely not a reason to criticize the book.

The story moves at an extremely fast pace with alternative chapters from Vincent, some members of his crew, Vladimir - the Russian funding the terrorist attacks and Raza, a terrorist Vincent is determined to take down. The death toll is massive but ultimately it all adds to the excitement of the novel helping to make it as action packed as possible. With all the crime bosses working together there's obviously going to be clash of egos and opinions and that's where the conflict comes in. Who can Vincent trust not to stab him in the back? People all have their own agendas and that makes for a more exciting read because we know there's a threat from the Russians and terrorists but what about the people he is supposed to be able to trust?

What I would have liked is for the book to have been longer. This would have allowed for the characters' back-stories to have been expanded more or for the overall story to have been expanded. It wasn't rushed by any means but I was gutted when the book was over and could have read for a lot longer. The two characters that were the most well created were Vincent and Angela Jannetti (known as The Strega). Angela leads the Camorra and despite being on the same side her and Vincent were once in love but both would ultimately have one day became the 'boss' and how could that have worked were they husband and wife? Their relationship was electric and very intense on the page and their history was so well told that again it could almost be factual rather than a work of fiction.

I finished this book long before I was ready to leave the characters behind and for that reason I can only hope that there's a second book featuring the Wolf and that it comes soon. There's so many questions still requiring answers and scores still to be settled and in my opinion this series has legs and could become huge and I can't wait to see how it will all play out. Definitely a book not to miss.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy via NetGalley.

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