Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday's Forgotten Books: WOLF PASS (2003) by Steve Thayer

Friday again and that means, Forgotten Books, the weekly meme hosted by Patti at her blog, PATTINASE. Don't forget to take a look at the complete list of participants at this link.

I loved WOLF PASS when I read it a few years ago, though, for whatever reason I never liked the first in the series, the more well-known, THE WHEATFIELD. This happens sometimes. But it's hard for me to fathom exactly why.

Anyway, WOLF PASS is a thriller set in the midwest of 1962. Sheriff P.A. (Pliny) Pennington of Kickapoo County, Wisconsin is back. He is a former Army sniper called upon to solve a double murder in which he, himself, is the prime suspect. One of the victims is an ex-lover of Pennington's, she and her husband were shot at far range, sniper-style.

The actual killer is someone from Pennington's past, SS Officer Wolfgang Stangl, the Nazi who operated the prison camp from which Pennington once escaped. During the war, the two had played a deadly cat and mouse game. The trick is, Stangl has changed his appearance. He could be any man of a certain age living in or traveling through the county.

Pennington believes (though no one else does) that Stangl has somehow devised a lethal vengeance involving his ex-prisoner and what's more, it appears the former SS man is after President John F. Kennedy.

When a  beautiful Scotland Yard Inspector mysteriously shows up in small town America to help Pennington, the fast-paced plot speeds towards a stunning denouement.

This is one of those books that you dare not put down for a moment - it is THAT exciting. Author Steve Thayer has written several books, but this remains my very favorite. I wish he'd written more about Pennington.

To learn about Steve Thayer and read about his other books, please check his website.


  1. I admit when I read "Kickapoo County" I almost stopped right there. I'm NOT a fan of cutesy or humorous mysteries and the town name makes this sound like the protagonist is a fumbling hick drawing laughs (think Barney Fife) as he stumbles to a solution, with lots of meals at Aunt May's Home Cookin' Cafe thrown in.

    But I read on and have to admit the book sounds interesting. Thanks.

  2. I'm glad you kept reading, Richard. This is a terrific book and not at all 'cutesy' or Barney Fife-ish. :)

  3. Ex-Nazis in Wisconsin! Of course they'd flee to the land of beer, bratwurst and cheese. This sounds like an odd one. I shy away from any book about Nazis these days. I had my fill with all of Dennis Wheatley's Nazis and Satanism books. Can't take a Nazis and Kennedy assassination plot.

    Clearly Rick is not up on his Native American tribes. Guess the Kickapoos never made it out to Oregon. I see that word and I immediately think of a strange day camp I went to in Connecticut where everyone was housed in cabins named after Indian tribes. There was even a song to help you remember everyone: "Kickapoo, Mohegan. Apache, Iroquois./Onandaga, Tuscorora. Comanche, Kiowa…” I’ll stop now. : ^D

  4. John: Again I say, this is a TERRIFIC book! Not odd at all. Thrilling is more like it.

    Kickapoo County is a real place in Wisconsin. :)

    Far as I know.

    I went to camp one summer. But don't remember naming anything.

  5. I've never read anything in this series but I did read - and liked - a couple of Thayer's earlier books, The Weatherman and Saint Mudd.

    My first thought in reaction to "Kickapoo" is Kickapoo Joy Juice, the incredibly powerful beverage brewed by Lonesome Polecat and Hairless Joe in the L'il Abner comic strip. That, admittedly, is going back quite a way, though.

  6. Steve: You'd probably like this book then, if you're familiar with Thayer's work.

    I do remember L'il Abner AND Kickapoo Joy Juice. HA!

  7. This sounds very riveting and suspenseful if it's an unputdownable.

    I usually don't read books about WWII and Nazis, but this one might be okay.

  8. Kathy: It's set in 1962, so it should be okay. It would be a shame to miss this one if you're in the mood for a good thriller.

  9. It might be okay as it was set in the early sixties. I just don't want to read about what the Nazis did to the Jewish people.

    My family is Jewish on one side and from a city in Poland, whose Jewish population was decimated. Even though they emigrated before WWI, it still was an enormous trauma to them; it's not something I want to be reminded of when I'm reading fiction for enjoyment. A distraction and pleasure it is not.

    This is why I avoid all of those (wonderfully sounding) series written about WWII by John Lawton, Alan Furst, Philip Kerr, Rebecca Cantwell and others.

    I'd much rather meet with Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe on W. 35th Street or with the Brunettis in Venice. Or with Corinna Chapman in her Melbourne bakery, etc. Anyway, you get the drift.

  10. Kathy: Well, all I can say is, read it and see. I don't think you'll find it objectionable. It's really just a terrific thriller. The bad guy just happens to be Nazi scum.

  11. Sounds fascinating! I love a good thriller! Thanks for another suggestion that sounds like something I'd like to read. Have a great Labor Day!

  12. You're welcome, Lauren. Thanks! You have a great Labor Day too.

    This IS a good book. Hope you'll get a chance to read it. :)


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