by Tim McGregor
self-published in 2011
Available via: Amazon
If you've ever seen a feral dog, you'll know they aren't something you want to mess with. Well, try a pack of them. Yeah, not pleasant. In Tim McGregor's debut novel, a string of deaths lead police to believe there's a pack of dogs responsible. And as detectives, John Gallagher and Lara Mendes, investigate they realize the pack is being led by a man. A crazy man, because he thinks he's a werewolf.
Now, I'm not a reader who gravitates towards detective novels, just one of those genres I don't care for, so if not for the prospect of a supernatural element I would have likely passed on this book altogether. And the first few chapters, with their typos, did nothing to win me over. As I read through though, the errors dissipated and the overall story started to gel. The police procedural aspect was too heavy for my tastes, but that's my personal bias, so fans of the genre likely would find no real problems there.
My main problem came from the male lead character, Detective Gallagher, who I think was meant as a cop who plays by his own rules a la Dirty Harry. But, in my eyes, he came off as a detestable, crooked cop, who I couldn't bring myself to root for even during his most sincere father/daughter moments. Mendes was a far more likable character and her promotion to working homicide with the proviso of being Gallagher's partner added some interesting tension. The tease of a romantic entanglement didn't come off as believable, though.
As for the villain in the tale, I thought a deranged vagabond with a pack of dogs at his command was an interesting way to go, and his motivation came off as organic, if not a little preposterous. But the way he was depicted felt inconsistent through the novel, as he was presented as a conflicted soul tormented by his belief that he's a werewolf in some chapters, then other chapters showed him as a malevolent killer with an eagerness to tear his targets limb from limb.
The first half of the novel was a bit of a chore for me to get through, but it picked up once Gallagher and Mendes finally tracked down their suspect and the real chase began. Some of the story comes off as distance with some of the narration, but the action helped make up for that once it got going. I found it to be an okay debut for McGregor, but I'll keep my fingers crossed for some marked improvement when he gets around to his sophomore effort.