‘Werewolf Cop,’ by Andrew Klavan

He parked in a little neighborhood near the service road. He sat behind the wheel with his eyes shut, his fingers pinching the bridge of his nose. He told himself that this would pass. He’d track Abend down. He’d “confront” the dagger, whatever that meant. After that, he’d be free to turn himself in or die or… do something to make this stop. Meanwhile, though…. The guilt and horror were like thrashing, ravenous animals in him. Guilt and horror – and grief too. Because he’d lost something precious, something he’d barely known he had: he’d lost his sense of himself as a good person. Even death wouldn’t restore that. Nothing word.

As you know if you’ve been following this blog for a while, I’m a confirmed fanboy when it comes to Andrew Klavan. I discovered him after he’d become a conservative, but before he became a Christian. I consider him one of the foremost thriller writers – and one of the best prose stylists – of our time.

Still, although I’ve praised all the books he’s written since then (specifically since the Weiss-Bishop novels, which I consider unparalleled) I’ve honestly thought he’s been kind of treading water, not quite sure where to go with his art.

Who’d have thought he’d hit his next home run with a horror-fantasy book? But Werewolf Cop, in spite of its William Castle title, is an amazing reading experience. Klavan has moved in on Dean Koontz’s turf, and done the genre proud.

Zach Adams is the hero of the book and the titular werewolf cop. He’s a Texas native relocated to New York City, where he works for a shadowy government police agency called “Extraordinary Crimes.” Along with his partner, “Broadway Joe” Goulart, he’s become a legend and a sort of a celebrity. He has a beautiful wife and a family he loves. But his life isn’t as great as people think it is. He’s worried about his partner, who has come under suspicion for corruption. He’s afraid of being blackmailed by a woman over a mistake he made. And he’s got the murder of a gangster by a mysterious, almost legendary European criminal to solve.

And that’s before he gets mauled by a werewolf.

I could quibble a little about the fantasy element in this story – werewolves here are pure Universal Pictures, rather than the genuine folklore article. But Klavan mines that old movie scenario for amazing psychological – and spiritual – insights. I was riveted from the first page to the last, and deeply moved at the same time.

You should be cautioned – there’s rough language, as in all Klavan’s books, and the gore element is what you’d expect in a werewolf story.

But if you can handle that, and wish to see old material raised to new levels, Werewolf Cop has my highest recommendation.

7 thoughts on “‘Werewolf Cop,’ by Andrew Klavan”

  1. Oh my. This looks great.

    Lars, have you ever seen Abel Ferrara’s The Addiction? Mid-nineties, black-and-white vampire flick with a very orthodox take on total depravity — and salvation. I learned about it from Brian Godawa’s books. Sounds similar and is worth your time. It’s a little artsy, though.

  2. It’s … not really horror. It’s more of a cerebral treatise on the nature of evil. The protagonist is a PhD candidate in philosophy who can’t quite reconcile the various secular theories with her own experience of slowly becoming a vampire.

    Might not be your cup of tea all the same, but it’s definitely interesting.

  3. I came late to the party and have not yet read everything Andrew Klavan has written, but I have read his most popular books, and this is hands-down my favorite. Ironically, the characters in this horror-fantasy novel are the most realistic he has created, and my level of concern for these people who felt like friends ratcheted up the level of suspense considerably. (My biggest problem with most modern novels is not caring enough about the characters to feel a stake in their fate. In fact, some of them are so unlikable that I find myself rooting for the villain to just kill them, already.)

  4. I am fairly new to Klaven after recently reading Empire of Lies after John C. Wrights enthusiastic recommendation. So after enjoying that one immensely I was wondering what to read next of his – well now I know.

  5. Okay, I’ve read it now and totally concur. Wow that was phenomenal. Such a well told story all the way through down to the last sentence. Dean Koontz teritory indeed, especially the deeper aspects.

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