Summary: It is actually about a cop that is turned into a werewolf. And it isn’t bad.
Anyone that reads a lot has to have sources for ideas about what to read. As I have said before, I love Goodreads (a social network for readers), and other book review blogs and magazines. John Wilson, editor of Books and Culture, is one of the people I look to for recommendations.
Not all of them work out, but there are many books that I would have never picked up on my own, but I ended up loving.
Andrew Klavan is a favorite author of John Wilson. On Wilson’s recommendation I read the Homelanders series and then I branched out and read several others of Klavan’s books. Recently, Wilson has been raving about Werewolf Cop as one of Klavan’s best.
(Klavan is known for his mystery books and two of his books have been adapted to movie scripts. He has won two Edgar awards. Recently he has started writing young adult thrillers with a Christian viewpoint. And Klavan is also very outspoken about his libertarian political views and has a regular commentary spot on the Glen Beck since 2011.)
In general I really like Klavan’s books but am often annoyed by some of his politics and culture that plays out through the books.
Werewolf Cop is about Zach Adams, an investigator in a special department that is solely devoted to finding a particular European crime lord that is moving into the US crime world. A particularly grizzly murder scene gives Adams and his partner a lead. As Adams tracks it down it leads him to Germany where he is lured by a woman/werewolf. And Adams becomes a werewolf himself.
Klavan is not a traditional supernatural writer. He is a crime/thriller writer. But the story basically works. Adams has a drive to stop the bad guy, has to come to terms with his own transformation and has to deal with two other threads to the story.
Which leads me to one of my frustrations of the book. Werewolf Cop fails the Bechdel test. There is no point where two women are ever talking to one another. There are six real female characters, but they all are sideline cardboard characters. Adams’ wife is too good to be true perfection. Adams’ boss is bitchy worry wart, who is ignored most of the book for good reason. The original werewolf is barely mentioned, but she is female.
The other three women are all girlfriends. Adams has a one night stand with a woman that ends up being a crazed stalker. And his guilt continues through the book driving much of the story. The other two women in the book end up being girlfriends of his partner and the bad guy.
I never really got over my frustration with Klavan’s sexist portrayals of women. But the other part of the problem is with the lone ranger cop mentality of the book. Early in the book, Adams is told that his partner might be dirty. And so throughout most of the book Adams acts alone because he does not know whether the partner is dirty or not. That is convenient since Adams might be a werewolf, but it relies on the rugged individualism trope that is part and parcel with the sexism of the portrayals of the women.
In the end, the book wasn’t bad and I was engaged throughout it. But I was also frustrated by it. Klavan and a number of other authors, like Orson Scott Card, have made their political conservatism a significant part of their writing. It is difficult for me to know whether the story outweighs the frustration before I start the book. I know that I have enjoyed other books they have written. And I know I have been frustrated by other books they have written. When I know that there are lots of other books out there, my tendency is to say maybe I shouldn’t bother to read their books.
Don’t get me wrong, they have the right to write whatever books they want to write. And they will have an audience. The question is not should they write them. It is should I read them.