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Little Wolves

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  1,465 ratings  ·  296 reviews
A tragic act of violence echoes through a small Minnesota town

Set on the Minnesota prairie in the late 1980s during a drought season that’s pushing family farms to the brink, Little Wolves features the intertwining stories of a father searching for answers after his son commits a heinous murder, and a pastor’s wife (and washed-out scholar of early Anglo-Saxon literature) w
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Soho Press (first published November 27th 2012)
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Community Reviews

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4.5 Stars

Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman is a haunting, dark tale and a powerful murder mystery. I don’t normally read murder mystery novels but when I do they have to have that little bit extra to keep me interested and the fantasia of myth and folklore had me from page one.

Lately I have been doing most of my reading on Kindle and am really enjoying the experience. But Little Wolves was a hardback book that I bought and boy the experience of holding and reading a novel like this really enhanc
Maltman's Little Wolves is a fast-paced, haunting story. It is comparable to a southern gothic, transpiring instead in the 1980's Minnesota prairie. Norse legends, including Valkyries, Beowulf, and Ragnarok preside over the plot of this work which takes place in a town full of German descendants. One of the main characters, Clara Warren, is a linguist; the author takes advantage of this fact to sporadically delve into the etymology of Old English and German words which helps illustrate the deepe ...more
Jim Coughenour
My heart always sinks when I open a novel and the first page is in italics. This usually indicates that we're going to get some evocative flashback or a dream or the secret thoughts of someone deranged. In Little Wolves it's a private fiction, a folk tale in the making. It was only after I'd read a few more pages that I realized that the novel itself was a kind of folk tale, set in a small town in Minnesota, a Prairie Home Gothic.

The novel doesn't quite live up to its materials and characters, b
Jan 15, 2013 Lou rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: arc

This story emerges from a town in a wilderness, a small community struck with a death that unearths many dark secrets that lie amongst kin and a community framework. In this town everybody thinks they know everything about everybody, but time will show that there are many lies and things that have happened with darker truths behind them and that maybe only a few are aware of as they insidiously show themselves.
Amongst the preconceived o
I am quite frankly flabbergasted by all of the positive reviews and recent praise for Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman. The story seemed to have multiple personalities competing for attention, without any one of those personalities successfully doing so. I suppose what was supposed to be the main storyline was that of Grizz Fallon, a father hopelessly searching for answers after his son murdered the Sherriff of their small Minnesota town, prior to walking into a cornfield and shooting himself. Co ...more
Diane S.✨
Set on the Minnesota prairie, in 1980, this novel opens with an horrendous act and a father who needs and wants answers. The tone from the beginning is ominous and the story just pulled me in and kept me there. Small town, life, farms that are failing, a preacher's wife who has ties to the place but doesn't really understand how or why she has been drawn there. A father who told his daughter stories of wolves and mythology, Beowolf, wolves, coyotes, what do they all mean and where does the evil ...more
LeAnn Suchy
Originally reviewed at Minnesota Reads.

I have been waiting for another book by Thomas Maltman ever since I read his first novel The Night Birds. Ten pages in, I was mesmerized by the descriptions of locusts crunching under boots in the Minnesota summer of 1876. In The Night Birds, Maltman told a beautiful story, surrounding a tragic event in our past, with grace, a flawless recount of history, and beautiful, sometimes haunting, detailed descriptions. Maltman, who studied as a poet, has a gift fo
Really like this author's writing. I like the storyline and the uncertainty of the characters. Interesting how the folklore was mixed in to plot. Note to self:mention of a Sineater (count up to 3) I look forward to reading his earlier work.
If one of Garrison Keillor's updates from Lake Wobegon took an unexpected left turn into darkness, you would end up with something much like "Little Wolves." I read this book in two sittings, so that should speak to how successful Thomas Maltman is in drawing the reader into his shadowy prairie story. A book full of mystery and mythology, Maltman tells the tale of a young Lutheran pastor and his wife who have just moved to the small Minnesota town of Lone Mountain when an unthinkable crime takes ...more
Michele Weiner
A mystery that got some very positive reviews, Little Wolves tells the story of a young wife and mother-to-be who convinces her pastor husband to take a job in Lone Mountain, MN because she is sure that this is the area where her mother disappeared. The facts of her mother's disappearance are not clear to her; she dreams about wolves or coyotes or both, and being born covered with hair and rescued from freezing to death by a group of mysterious wolves or coyotes, which she seems to equate someho ...more
Luke Franklin
Has a lot going for it, though not nearly a gothic version of Haruf's work, which seems the most commmon touchstone for reviewers/blurb-ers. It's more: Prairie Home Companion (Linguists and Lutherans!) does 80s Metal Murder Ballad (Ragnarok!) I wish Maltman hadn't thanked is editor so profusely in his author's note, cause a good editor could've pointed out a lot of the problems and cut out some of ridiculous genre cliches thyat undermine the tone of stark mysterious earnestness. There's way too ...more
Aaron Cance
Although I'm unable to give Thomas Maltman's second book the four and a half star rating I'd like to, on account of the limitations of the rating system on the website, it's a strong enough book that the decision to waver in one direction or another was clear and easy, and I'm left with no choice but to give him five. The ultra-cool and creepy Little Wolves was the perfect chiller for the weeks just preceding Halloween, and gave the gift that very few books in its genre can offer the contemporar ...more
***I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway***

This was a fabulous book. It was a very dark story about a current event and several from the past, but somehow the author was able to keep the tone light in a way that didn’t allow the book as a whole to feel disheartening. The book was filled with many different stories: folklore and legend, a little girl’s imagination, mythology, families feuding for generations, ancient literature, and modern day religion. I especially enjoyed the references to
Imagine, an "All Iowa Reads" book that I actually liked! This one was more mystery than I was expecting, even as I got quite a way into the story. And to be honest, I was a bit annoyed that coyotes were called 'Little Wolves', but by the end, I understood why. The story is set in Minnesota. A young man commits a violent act and the whole community reels under what's happened, not the least of whom is his father. As the story unfolds all is slowly revealed and the ending is more than just a littl ...more
One of my favorite books this year. Beautiful writing.
Andrea Paterson
A book about darkness, evil, wild things lurking in the shadows, the original monster that rises up to claim us. Woven into this murder mystery is the story of Beowulf and Grendel, showing us the root of our desire to quash the monsters among us and the inevitable complications in deciding who or what is monstrous and who or what is the hero.

I was impressed by the rendering of the experience of pregnancy in this novel. Maltman nails the character of Clara, pregnant throughout the novel, who expe
Little Wolves
Thomas Maltman

My " in a nutshell" summary...

A tragedy occurs in a small town and because of this lives are changed and a multitude of secrets are discovered.

My thoughts after reading this book...

This is one of those tremendous tragic novels that only truly gifted storytellers can master. It's a story of tragedy and sadness that mesmerized me as the reader. It's the kind of horror and nightmarish tragedy that can not even begin to enter our imaginations. This book is sad and graphi
Sam Sattler
Little Wolves is a tough novel to explain. I understand why some people do not like to see the word “literary” used to describe a novel type but, for lack of a better word, I am going take the notion one step farther and will call this one “literary crime fiction” – or “literary thriller.” That is exactly what Little Wolves is: a character and setting-driven novel with a plot encompassing elements of both the mystery and thriller genres. It has an exciting story to tell, and it tells it in liter ...more
KJ Grow
I began reading this book on the same morning that a gunman opened fire outside the Empire State Building, and the shootings in Aurora, Colorado were fresh in my mind. So this book, which opens with a scene of seemingly senseless violence, resonated strongly with me, and felt even a little raw. Still, the lyrical writing and the atmospheric setting compelled me to read on. I spent time in Minnesota during my college years, and was raised among Scandinavian/German stock in the Lutheran Church - s ...more
Lisa B.
4.5 of 5

My Thoughts


I picked this up to just read a few chapters to get a feel for the book and see if I thought I would like it. Before I knew it, I was half way thru and did not want to put it down.

The author’s writing is so lyrical and descriptive. There is that undertone of evil that really drew me in and the pages just flew. This was one of those books where you tend to block out everything that is going on around you. I got so wrapped up in the story that I feel like I just came
Set in the late 1890's during a drought season in Minnesota, "Little Wolves" tells the entwined stories of a pastor's wife who has returned to town for mysterious reasons and a father's search for answers after his son commits a shocking murder.
This literary thriller includes elements of folklore, Norse mythology and mystery and gripped me from the very beginning until the very last page.

I loved this book! It's rare that I pick up a book at the library or bookstore having done no prior research. I am so happy something led me to this one. I can't wait to read his other work "Nightbirds."
Jen Davis Lance
2015 seems to be the year of the mystery,and lovers of the genre should add this book to their to-read list. This suspenseful offering by Thomas Maltman is a complex mashup of magical realism and crime drama. Except..the whole story gathers together in a way that turns out to be much more realistic than the reader is led to believe at the onset.

Clara returns to the town of her birth as a wannabe scholar, her doctoral degree in early Anglo-Saxon literature just out of reach. Evidently there as t
Jenni V.
Our book club read this because it was an All Iowa Reads selection.

Just as you can really like a person but not love everything that they say, I really liked this book even though I didn't love every paragraph.

On the plus side, it was intense and difficult to put down at times. The writing was so vivid I would look up and be surprised that I'm not sitting in a barn on a rainy night with the characters right in front of me. I nodded with familiarity at the descriptions of small town life such a
The all Iowa read for May 2014 is Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman. A story that will capture your heart each page you turn. I truly didn’t think I would be so captivated with the title as previous books chosen for the all Iowa read haven’t been all that great. In fact, some have been very boring. This one enchanted my soul once I discovered there were multiple events converging to meet at a point from the past. I found the first few chapters to be not very informative or should I say they didn’t ...more
Amy Softa
Finally an All Iowa Reads (AIR) book I enjoyed. Thank you for this year’s selection Iowa Center for the Book.

Every year the library I work for participates in the AIR program and I always dread having to read the book they select. It’s not that they are bad books, but just something I would never select or be interested in. In fact I have noticed that quite often they are books that not many of our patrons enjoy. I think the committee needs a little fresh blood in it to mix things up a bit. This
Like Ordinary Grace, which I just read shortly before this one, this is a story of violent death set in a small town in southwestern Minnesota, with a young minister and his wife again at the center of the story. Otherwise, this is a very different book, more literary, with more nuanced characters. It's not really more believable--in many ways it's less so--but the less believable aspects are intentional and enrich the story rather than detract from it. The story begins with a teenaged boy commi ...more
Mary Manahan
Excellent!!! I see Mr. Maltman has another book entitled, "Nightbirds" I will read soon.

Although no actual wolves are in the book (Minnesota in the 1980s was wolf-free) some interesting coyotes make an appearance and are integral to the plot. And a wonderful plot it is...although marked by violence, "Little Wolves" is dark, haunting and beautifully written. The story unfurls around Clara, a graduate student, English Teacher, and pregnant Lutheran minister's wife who encourages her husband to a
A Book Vacation
To see my full review:

I really enjoyed this novel. It’s got a little bit of everything: mythology, folklore, murder, mayhem, intrigue, and even magical realism. All in all, it wraps up to be a very well written psychological thriller focusing on the lives of two seemingly unconnected characters, Grizz and Clara.

The novel opens with a surreal event that seems unrelated to the story on the whole. We later find out just how much it connects to some of the cha
This was such a well-written thriller with some of the loveliest (or should I say, grotesque) metaphors and similes I've come to read in quite some time, my favorite comparing a flight of stairs to the inside of a sick person's throat. The grammar was also impeccable--I don't think I found one mistake! The vocabulary was stunning, and when interwoven with Old English and mythology, you feel like you are sitting in the classroom of one of the main characters, Clara.

Speaking of characters, I was
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Cedar Falls Publi...: Little Wolves 31 18 Mar 03, 2014 05:50AM  
WV Reads 150: read this month 1 19 May 03, 2013 03:51PM  
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I am the oldest of twenty-six cousins and the child of an Air Force pilot. Our family lived everywhere from Lubbock, Texas to Stuttgart Air Force Base in Germany. I learned to love travel and love the stories of these places, their history and lore. These loves would serve me well when it came time to write a novel.

I am married to a Lutheran pastor and live in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. I have tw
More about Thomas Maltman...
The Night Birds

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“We all say we want The Truth, but we all want our secrets kept.” 4 likes
“In birth all things are kindred, the sounds me make universal to any species. We enter wailing of a lost world.” 1 likes
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