Making Wolf

April 2, 2018 at 5:00 pm (Reads) (, , , )

wolfMaking Wolf by Tade Thompson

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Tade Thompson took me by surprise with The Murders of Molly Southborne. It was a vivid story, told well, with a vivid main character and a fantastic premise. It was such an impressive story that I immediately tracked down the other books he had written and put them at the top of my to-read list. Making Wolf is the first of those, and Thompson’s debut novel.

The story is set in the fictional country of Alcacia in West Africa, where Weston Kogi returns for his aunt’s funeral. He left when he was still a teenager, boarding a plane just as riots broke out across his country. His aunt was the one who got him out of the country, so he feels the obligation to return from London to pay his respects. While there, he makes a connection with an old schoolmate and bully who ropes him into investigating the death of a well-loved hero of Alcacia. Things slowly go from bad to worse, though, with Weston seeing first-hand the brutality of violence of living in this divided nation.

The story itself is a noir crime thriller, with Weston being the investigator and Alcacia standing in for the darkened, gritty streets. The plot carries us forward, revealing itself pieces at a time, through betrayals, double-crosses, and intrigue, complete with the long-legged dames and characters with questionable morality. The story is modernized and relocated, and it feels like Thompson has things to say about Africa as perceived through the Western eye, but it’s also a solid, page-turning crime thriller with a satisfying conclusion.

Making Wolf feels like it could be the start of a series, but since the point of the story is Weston’s character growth, it’s hard to imagine there being anything else to tell. Thompson couldn’t start over again with Weston, and there aren’t any other characters in the book that could serve as the growth for a sequel. It’s not an unfinished story by any means, but it does feel like there’s more to tell. Were Thompson to write that book, I would read it because I admire his skills as a writer, and because I trust he would be able to find a way to make a sequel fresh.

With all the Swedish crime thrillers that are populating the best-seller lists, there should be room for one more set in West Africa. Making Wolf is that book, and I think anyone looking for a well-told crime thriller, set in a new place, would do well to read it.

Started: January 4, 2018
Finished: January 6, 2018

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