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The Tenderness of Wolves

The Tenderness of Wolves

Book rating: 04 Paperback

By (author) Stef Penney

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  • Publisher: Quercus Publishing Plc
  • Format: Paperback | 466 pages
  • Dimensions: 129mm x 197mm x 32mm | 364g
  • Publication date: 8 February 2007
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1847240674
  • ISBN 13: 9781847240675
  • Sales rank: 23,742

Product description

1867, Canada: as winter tightens its grip on the isolated settlement of Dove River, a man is brutally murdered and a 17-year old boy disappears. Tracks leaving the dead man's cabin head north towards the forest and the tundra beyond. In the wake of such violence, people are drawn to the township - journalists, Hudson's Bay Company men, trappers, traders - but do they want to solve the crime or exploit it? One-by-one the assembled searchers set out from Dove River, pursuing the tracks across a desolate landscape home only to wild animals, madmen and fugitives, variously seeking a murderer, a son, two sisters missing for 17 years, a Native American culture, and a fortune in stolen furs before the snows settle and cover the tracks of the past for good. In an astonishingly assured debut, Stef Penney deftly waves adventure, suspense, revelation and humour into a panoramic historical romance, an exhilarating thriller, a keen murder mystery and ultimately, with the sheer scope and quality of her storytelling, one of the books of the year.

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Author information

Stef Penney was born and grew up in Edinburgh. After a degree in Philosophy and Theology from Bristol University she turned to film-making, studying Film and TV at Bournemouth College of Art. On graduation she was selected for the Carlton Television New Writers Scheme and has since written and directed two short films. The Tenderness of Wolves is her first novel.

Customer reviews

By Jennifer Cameron-Smith 25 Jun 2010 4

In the Canadian winter of 1867, near the remote settlement of Caulfield, Laurent Jammet is found murdered. His body is discovered by Mrs Ross, whose first-person narrative is one thread of the story. Mrs Ross's son, Francis, is a friend of Laurent Jammet. When Francis doesn't return home after Jammet's murder, he becomes a suspect.

A search for Jammet's murderer is soon organised. The searchers include Mrs Ross and Donald Moody, representing the Hudson Bay Company. Others join the search as well, and the community is reminded of an earlier search for two young sisters who disappeared some years earlier.

Solving Jammet's murder is not the only truth being sought, and there are a number of other mysteries to be explored and motives to be understood. The wintry landscape both hides and preserves the pasts of some characters, as well as some of the evidence.

Doesn't it always matter, finding the truth?'

It's a challenge at times to follow the various narrative strands, but it becomes easier as the story progresses. There are a number of sub-plots which add different dimensions to what otherwise might be a straightforward murder investigation. The weather, the past and the country each play a part in the story.

I enjoyed this novel and while I fleetingly wished that all loose ends had been tied off at the end, I realised that would not have worked. Not for this novel.

The sound is inescapable; quiet but insistent, like conscience.'

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

Review quote

"This subtle and superb novel brings the freezing landscape of the Canadian woods to such vivid life that the landscape itself becomes a strong character within the story. Once you have dived into the tiny, closeted world of Caulfield and its forbidding surroundings, you will certainly not wish to leave." Crimesquad.com "...Stef Penney's hefty first novel The Tenderness of Wolves, mines her setting and period for all it's got and then some, injecting plenty of invented intrigue and Da Vinci Code like revelations of Huge Cultural Importance whenever she can. The result is an entertaining, well-constructed mystery that jazzes up the "real" history in a way that's more Ron Howard than Pierre Berton. It's...sexy, suspenseful, densely plotted storytelling...The Tenderness of Wolves remains a first-rate gripper with a notably sensual as well as psychological understanding of its main characters. More than this, it is a novel with far greater ambitions than your average thriller, combining as it does the themes of Conrad's Heart of Darkness with Atwood's Survival, and lashing them to a story that morphs Ian Rankin..." Andrew Pyper, The Globe and Mail ... a highly-assured debut...Stef Penney has written an absorbing and stylish mystery. The Glasgow Herald ... a quite remarkable debut novel.' Birmingham Post a tense and delicately written thriller - The Observer unquestionably atmospheric, evocative and eventually rewarding - Independent On Sunday