David Poyer’s As The Wolf Loves Winter is a thriller that reflects the author’s respect for the wilds of Pennsylvania. It’s set in the hills of western Pennsylvania, first plundered by trappers, then for timber, oil and gas. Wolves became extinct in this scarred natural habitat. Or did they?
When mangled frozen bodies are found in the woods, fear spreads through the small villages surrounded by the dark hills of Hemlock County. What terrible secret lies hidden in those woods? Would someone kill to keep it?
The main character, Halvorsen, had lived as a hermit in those hills. But age and his deteriorating health have slowly convinced him to move back to civilization. His adult daughter convinces him to move in with her and her husband.
In the first half of the book, linear stories shift us back and forth from old-timer Halvorsen to twelve-year-old Becky. Becky’s father is long gone and her single mom moves from one small town to another as she tries to support her two children. Becky is always the new kid. When her mother marries Charlie, Becky begins to feel like an unwanted step-child. We start to learn about her seemingly unrelated infatuation with a fairy tale about a Wolf Prince. Her obsession with the fairy tale becomes dangerous, but eventually saves her.
The storylines merge when Becky is lost in the woods while attempting to make a deal with fairy gods for her little brother’s life.. She is captured and held hostage by a Thunder Oil subcontractor. Halvorsen, a retired Thunder Oil worker, is also captured while out for one last adventure in his beloved woods. They end up in the same unheated shed during the dead of winter.
Halvorsen’s skills as a lifelong hunter, oilman and mountain man enable him to escape with Becky. They overcome all odds and become an unlikely survival team.
Next the next storyline weaves in Ainslee Thunner, the scheming CEO of Thunder Oil. She inherited the company from her aging and ailing father, who was the cunning CEO in Halvorsen’s day. In Ainslee’s world, corporate greed outweighs individual rights and decency. Likewise a wolf cares more for the good of the pack than an individual wolf. The author makes it clear the order of the wolf pack is more civilized than Thunder Oil.
Suspense, dramatic imagery and intense action make As The Wolf Loves Winter an unforgettable story. Rich character development, corporate deception and plot twists are blended together to create a great book by a master storyteller.
Those interested in Pennsylvania’s energy resources and the current drilling activity in the Marcellus Shale will be fascinated. This story of greed and energy theft makes this novel even more relevant for today’s readers.
"As the Wolf Loves Winter" by David Poyer is published by Northhampton House. It was originally published in 1996, but was recently re-published in 2014.
Reviewer Cheryl Bazzoui is a frequent contributor to BookMark. She lives in Bradford, Pennsylvania and is a writer who uses the pen name Ann McCauley.