| Home | Fiction | Listserv | Creative Archives | Scholarly Archives |
| Book Review Archives | Critical Essays | Contribute | Search the Site |

Woman Into Wolf
ISBN: 978-1-59712-289-4
By Alysse Aallyn
Review by: Cheryl A. Townsend

07/09

The subtitle for this novel states "A True CrimeTale" to which I add, Lordy, I hope not.  Persephone (Persey) is the main character and a subservient whisper to her overly macho husband, Roy. Roy is the surviving twin of a juxtaposition of character flaws from a well to do divorced family. A murky excuse gurgles as to the exact cause of the deceased twin's cause of death. Money does have its secrets and plays a major role in this drama. 

Roy is all about appearance and Persey serves as the perfect accessory to whatever he happens to have on, tiny in all the right places and not so in the best. (He expects dinner & seduction ready when he walks in the door from work.) Roy is especially fond of flaunting his trophy wife to his war-buddy best friend, Jarod, who is now a police officer. In an overly chummy bro-mance, these two epitomize the white-boy club bravado in every way. Jarod is the bane of Persey's existence, (or at least, the prime one) and constantly flirts in disrespectful ways in every available situation. A Lothario of epic proportions, he claims nothing but love for little Persephone. Persey may exemplify a Stepford Wife, but she's more the Katherine Ross role and plays her own hand at manipulations.

Forced into a show-off party, she manages time enough off her husband's arm to meet a crime profiler who tells her about a string of homicides he's working on and believes to be the work of a serial killer. Shes intrigued by the research and more so the danger involved. Not a good thing for a bored housewife with time to spare and a very obvious macabre side to her.

Sequestered in her mother-in-law-bought home, she dresses as Roy dictates, decorates as her mother-in-law suggests and sneaks out during the day to break free of her confines with her dog, Digger. Pushing her own boundaries, she calculates possible kill sites (or drop off points) for the aforementioned serial killer and drives herself and Digger out to investigate one. Seems she's a natural, as she stumbles upon a decaying body exactly where she assumed one would be. She then calls the detective she met at the party and starts a quasi-professional friendship with him. Keeping her find on the QT, so as not to bring her into the case, they soon fall into tête-à-tête regularity of him feeding her information and she giving her intuitions. (He, of course, dismisses them each time.) From his line of suspects, she's told information on her husband's twin that starts to crumble her ivory tower. Is he, or is he not dead? Persey first confronts the mother, a septuagenarian kook with a selective memory and Hell-bent desire for grandchildren and gets a rendition not so jake with Roy's. Oh, how this plot twists and spins.

As Persey works her detecting, Roy & Jarod work her. A favor for Jarod happens her upon the fresh kill of his estranged wife. She contemplates Jarod, the detective thinks more the twin, while Jarod & Roy blame Persey's best friend, a married bi-sexual father, who the freshly deceased adamantly flirted with at the party of parties. Seems Roy wants any and all distractions out of their life so they can start a family in isolation. Well, not total isolation, there is Jarod, after all. Jarod of history, Jarod of good gene pool, Jarod of viable sperm when Roy finds his are tailless. Oh, oh, oh.

So when distraught Jarod joins them for dinner and the wine is served and served and served, we can almost expect the switcheroo in the bedroom, but assuredly not the lacksy-daisy acceptance by all afterwards. Roy's hope that the seed took and Jarod's doubling it with an added hope of Persey taking, too, is a little too buddy-buddy, me thinks. But she manages to work the rape to her advantage and starts working the crime scenes a little harder and deeper, all the while being aided by subconscious dream state teachings from the bird-lady who played a quintessential role in her youth. These scenes are the most confusing leaving me not being entirely sure whether it's a subplot story line or Persey's own fear-induced imagination taking over. But bird-lady's teachings are what give Persey her courage and tenacity and therefore, relevant.

Then there are the final chapters where all the secrets fall open and the culprits are exposed. It was unexpected and intense. It was believable and cunning. Needless to say, Persey cracks the case and hands the detective his killer and a bonus case, already solved.

Contact Women Writers