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Book Review: House of Wolves by Matt Bronlewee

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The central character in House of Wolves, August Adams, is a dealer in rare books who unexpectedly receives a package from his estranged father: an ancient illuminated manuscript of The Gospels of Henry the Lion. August is immediately plunged into a deadly mystery that runs him afoul of The Black Vehm, an ancient brotherhood which seeks to get its hands on the book at all costs.

Soon, August finds himself reunited with his father and ex-wife, and along with his son, must try to outwit the Black Vehm while solving a mystery that ties in a biblical relic with a Nazi plot.

Echoes of Dan Brown resonate throughout this story. The illuminated book must be paired with another document, and the resulting message must then be decoded. August is average in almost all ways, except for his extraordinary memory and an uncanny ability to decipher codes. The ancient brotherhood is filled with conspiracies, competing factions, and even a sympathetic back-story for one of its killers.

There are many things to like about this story. The action gets rolling right away and doesn’t slow down. Bronlewee throws in a few satisfying twists, and also casts doubt about the motivations of multiple characters, adding to the suspense. He also does justice to the mystery element of the story, so that the plot is more than a series of escapes and near-misses along the way to the final showdown.

On the negative side of the ledger is that August is not an engaging character. Toward the end of the book, I discovered that I was eager to reach the end of the story and learn how the mystery was solved, but I did not care if August and his annoying son survived. In terms of setting, Bronlewee short-changes the location of the story’s climax. I would have enjoyed more description and a greater sense of wonder surrounding the final showdown.

House of Wolves is nevertheless a solid thriller for those who enjoy biblical mysteries, and I look forward to Bronlewee’s next effort.

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