Hunting for big bad wolves was never part of Agent Cooper Dayton’s plan, but a werewolf attack lands him in the carefully guarded Bureau of Special Investigations. A new case comes with a new partner: ruggedly sexy werewolf Oliver Park.
Park is an agent of The Trust, a werewolf oversight organization working to ease escalating tensions with the BSI. But as far as Cooper’s concerned, it’s failing. As they investigate a series of mysterious deaths unlike anything they’ve seen, every bone in Cooper’s body is suspicious of his new partner—even when Park proves himself as competent as he is utterly captivating.
When more people vanish, pressure to solve the case skyrockets. And though he’d resolved to keep things professional, Cooper’s friction with Park soon erupts…into a physical need that can’t be contained or controlled. But with a body count that’s rising by the day, werewolves and humans are in equal danger. If Cooper and Park don’t catch the killer soon, one—or both—of them could be the next to go.
An excellent début form Charlie Adhara, Wolf at the Door combines romance, mystery and paranormal elements and weaves them skilfully together into a procedural drama that provides a thoroughly entertaining and gripping read.
FBI Cooper Dayton narrowly survived a werewolf attack around a year before the story begins. At the time, he had no idea what had caused his injuries; as far as he knew, he was chasing down a murder suspect. Given the choice between finding out what really happened, and continuing in ignorance, he opts for the former – and is inducted into the Bureau of Special Investigations with the FBI, a small unit that has been created specially to deal with “monsters”. (No, it’s not quite the X-Files!) Cooper is one of a very small number of people to know that werewolves actually exist and live freely among the general population, and that five years previously, their leadership group – the Trust – had decided to reveal the truth to governments around the world in an attempt to help werewolves to continue to live peaceably in the modern world.
That’s the background to an intriguing suspense novel that sees Cooper paired with a Trust agent – Oliver Park – as an experiment to foster werewolf/human co-operation. They are assigned to investigate the deaths of two – possibly three – hikers in the White Mountain National Forest in Maine, who are believed to have been killed by werewolves. When a fourth victim is found alive, it seems at first to be an unrelated case of kidnap and assault – but is it? Cooper and Park have to navigate their way through small-town politics as well as the wider political canvas of human/werewolf relations – not to mention risk their lives – if they’re going to find out the truth.
The mystery element of the story is well executed, and I wasn’t sure of the identity of the villain until it was finally revealed, which is always a good thing. The author creates a suitably menacing small-town atmosphere for the fictional town where much of the story takes place as Cooper and Park gradually pull together the disparate threads and clues they uncover.
They’ve got a kind of Odd Couple thing going on; Park is always smartly dressed and exudes confidence while Cooper is a bit of a shambles most of the time; he’s very shrewd and observant (as Park notices) but he sometimes lacks the courage of his own convictions and tends to second guess himself. Given his experience with werewolves, it’s to be expected that Cooper isn’t best pleased at having one for a partner, plus his more experienced BSI partner has drummed it into him to be suspicious of all wolves; which makes his instinct to trust Park that much more confusing.
While he’s trying – not too hard at first – to get used to having a werewolf around, he tends to be snippy and displays an inordinate talent for putting his foot in his mouth, but Park is calm and unflappable; he gives Cooper the space to work things out and his quiet confidence that Cooper will make the right calls goes a long way towards helping him to come into his own over the course of the story. The author does a great job of creating a strong rapport between them; you gotta love a couple who can quote movie references in perilous situations – which makes the physical relationship they embark upon later in the book feel like a natural extension of their working one.
I knocked off half a grade point mostly because I wanted to know a bit more about Park. The story is told entirely through Cooper’s PoV, and for most of the story Park is coolly aloof and completely professional; he’s hard to read until Cooper starts to get to know him and to recognise his subtle non-verbal signals, and that means he’s pretty much an enigma for the reader, too. Most of the things we learn about him – he’s from an old and very much venerated pack, but doesn’t live with them any more – just pose more questions, which I hope will be answered in later books in the series.
Ms. Adhara gets the balance between the romance and the suspense just about right here, and does a tremendous job of paralleling the development of the relationships – personal and professional – between her two principals. I wolfed down (!) The Wolf at the Door in a couple of sittings and would definitely recommend it to fans of the genre.