Sadie Keller is determined to find out how her brother died, even if no one else thinks it’s worth investigating in rural Blackwater, Kansas, where crime and overdoses are on the rise. Four months prior to Sadie's investigation, an 18-year-old woman named Henley struggles with her own demons in this corrupt town, and her story moves ever closer to Sadie's.
Henley is a vibrant and interesting character, which called to mind the young heroine Jennifer Lawrence played in Winter's Bone ... McHugh has written yet another first-rate literary thriller that is deeply atmospheric and driven forward by characters so real they practically jump off the pages and into your psyche. You will not soon forget The Wolf Wants In, which is one of the best character-focused stories I've read this year.
In her third novel, Laura McHugh has painted a vivid picture of Shade Tree, Kansas, its small-town wholesomeness ravaged by economic decline and the fallout from the opioid crisis ... The Wolf Wants In is focused less on crime and mysteries than on what is left behind in the wake of crimes and mysteries; the grief and the emotional burdens resulting from unexplained deaths ... Shane’s character is written with a raw and palpable commingling of love and grief, and Sadie’s memories bring him to vivid life on the page ... Although The Wolf Wants In is a crime novel with murder providing the dramatic impetus, its strength lies in its depiction of the stages of the grieving process ... Readers are left with a bittersweet hope for the characters, who have learned how 'to go on living in the face of grief and loss and disappointment, accepting moments of peace and happiness when they came.'
The opioid crisis creeps into every corner of America, so it’s only fitting that it spills into the literary world in a chilling and chillingly realistic new book ... she captures more than the scene and the mood [of small Midwestern towns]. She writes with authority on the unspoken rules and the social strata that are part of every town. There’s no happy ending for everyone in The Wolf Wants In, but there is hope. And in this timely tale, that’s all you can expect.