The Wolf's Hour by Robert McCammon

Shame on me that I've never read one of the greatest masters of speculative fiction - Robert McCammon. The Swan Song is perhaps his best known work - apparently rivaling The Stand (Stephen King - will always be the greatest storyteller ever for me!) as one of the best written post-apocalyptic literary works but The Wolf's Hour recounting the pulse-pounding harrowing adventures of a master-spy behind enemy lines during WW-II - who is also a werewolf - is so much pure pulp fun that it's irresistible and should count right up there on the top of the shelf!

Robert's portrayal of Michael Gallatine - super-spy enlisted with the British Secret Service and also Werewolf - as a powerful Captain America pitted against the demented power-crazed absolutely evil Nazis - reads like an epic. Nail-biting action, heady adventure, underplayed romance, lots of sex and hell, brilliant behind-the-lines espionage. It's got it all and Robert brings it all together in a book set against the perils of a world-war with the fate of the Allied Normandy invasion hanging on the courage and deeds of this super-spy werewolf.

You might be tempted to dismiss the premise as pulpy and seemingly comical & impossible - rolling in the tale of a werewolf into WW-II super-spy story. But trust me, the character of Michael is so powerful and portrayed with enough grounded realism that you cannot help but relate. Michael Gallatine - born Mikhail Gallatinov into an affluent Russian family - loses his family during the bloody russian revolution - only to gain another in the wilderness. A pack of werewolves that gradually becomes his own as he realizes the changes inside of him. The intermittently placed flashbacks give us a lot of detail into the man/wolf that Michael grows into. Conflicted and vulnerable with an impeccable sense of honor and righteousness, Michael slowly realizes over time that he is the answer to that question which his mentor and Godfather asked him repeatedly.
What is a lycanthrope to God?  The answer as Michael realizes deep into the book drenched in enemy's blood, is that he is a God's avenger.  [ "Hell had shining green eyes and a sleek, muscular body covered with grey-streaked, black hair. Hell had white fangs and hell moved on all fours." ]

After having lost a good friend in Egypt during the North Africa raids between the Allied powers and Germany, Michael is lying low in his Wales countryside home. But new intel talks of a super-weapon being developed by the nazis in secret and the whole Allied Invasion of the German coast of Normandy hangs in balance. And thus the fate of the whole world war-II. Michael comes out of retirement and takes up this new mission - starting with rendezvous with a double-agent in the Nazi-occupied Paris to extract the intel. The mission leads him deep behind the enemy lines - racing and dodging bullets and bombs on the streets of Paris to the country-sides of Berlin and then onto a god-forsaken cold stormy island off the coast of Norway.

McCammon is a masterful writer of the suspense and horror - to which we are treated more than once as he pulls Michael through impossible situations with the odds stacked high against him. absolutely crackling story-telling - often enough veering into territories of disbelief - making me shout, "No way" but seeped in enough realism to make me want to believe. it's a tight dance but McCammon pulls it with effortless elan. It's bloody downright entertaining and that is the high point of the story.

The narrative split into several parts - each detail one mission and also alternates with Michael's past ( which too by the way is riddled with masterful suspense and enough pulsating adventure to read as a standalone!) all leading to the overall mission of uncovering what is that the evil Nazis have been planning to contain the Allied invasion. Funnily enough - McCammon brings in actual historical figures like Hitler and Churchill into the narrative but all goes with the flow.

Overall - a harrowing masterful tale of the world-war espionage that features a british superspy who is also a werewolf - is riveting storytelling at it's best. guaranteed to thrill your senses if you like those war-stories. If you are of the new generation and think Inglorious Bastards is the best world-war movie ever made, then heck no. this book is way more fantastic! It's pulp and it's pure gold-rated fun. Go ahead read this book!


Hunter said…
Great review!

In case you aren't aware of it, The Hunter from the Woods is a followup collection of short stories and novellas featuring Michael Gallatin.


Popular posts from this blog

Netflix Saturdays: Asuran (Movie Review Tamil)

Darien: Empire of Salt by CF Iggulden

Netflix Saturdays: Kumbalangi Nights ( Malayalam Movie Review)