Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Little Wolves” as Want to Read:
Little Wolves
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Little Wolves

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  1,693 Ratings  ·  322 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, 335 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Soho Press (first published November 27th 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Little Wolves, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Little Wolves

Why Not-World by Alexei Maxim RussellThe Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg LarssonNine Lives by George M. MoserThe Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienThe Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
Awesome Must Reads
22nd out of 53 books — 17 voters
The Book Thief by Markus ZusakMe Before You by Jojo MoyesThe River of No Return by Bee RidgwayThe Virgin's Lover by Philippa GregoryThe Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory
ChaoticUniverse's Books of 2013
59th out of 89 books — 11 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sep 19, 2016 Jaidee rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those that like their darkness dark with only a hint of the supernatural
Recommended to Jaidee by: a dark angel from the midwest

4.5 "Midwestern prairie gothic" stars!!

I was immensely impressed by this sophomore novel by Mr. Maltman.

There are so many interweaving themes and all of them dark. This takes place in southern Minnesota in the prairies where all four seasons are strong and powerful. Farmers, preachers, coyotes, wolves, murder, myths, torture, dreams and a light sprinkling of the supernatural all are present in this atmospheric, nebulous and intriguing literary novel.

I am purposely going to keep this review shor
Nov 06, 2016 Annet rated it really liked it
Beautiful book, and my 50th this year! Made the challenge...

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) who has returned to the town to seek her mysterious roots. A penetrating look at small-town America weaves together elements of
Mar 08, 2013 Dem rated it really liked it

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
Aug 31, 2015 Shelby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
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 ...more
Jim Coughenour
Jan 23, 2013 Jim Coughenour rated it liked it
Shelves: bleakfiction
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
Kirk Smith
Jan 19, 2016 Kirk Smith rated it really liked it
A lush and complex book that is thoroughly entertaining. I could recommend this for anyone, Steven King fans should also consider it. This is rich in folklore, even covers a good bit of Beowolf. I classify this as a mystery/thriller. With each detail added to the story, the mystery increases.
Apr 09, 2013 Heather rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, 2013
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. ...more
Jan 15, 2013 Lou rated it really liked it
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
Diane S ☔
Jan 10, 2013 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it
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
May 23, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it
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.
LeAnn Suchy
Jan 22, 2013 LeAnn Suchy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller, literary
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
Jan 25, 2013 Kathleen rated it really liked it
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
Jul 20, 2013 Beth rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books this year. Beautiful writing.
Aug 14, 2016 Jeanette rated it it was ok
This was compared in print to Haruf and to William Kent Krueger. I don't see the resemblance. Especially to Krueger who writes within a core (even for the most distressed and off characters) of good intent to the wider human possibilities that do exist. Both of them also write plainly. This is not plain writing. It's fancy.

It's 2.5 star but I cannot round it up. My enjoyment factor was 2. It's dismal, and the Gothic aspect didn't work for me at all. His wolves are really coyotes? Why? Wolves an
Luke Franklin
Jan 16, 2013 Luke Franklin rated it it was ok
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
Oct 26, 2012 Aaron Cance rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Dec 17, 2012 Kathleen rated it it was amazing
***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
Jan 20, 2015 Sue rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Sam Sattler
Dec 13, 2012 Sam Sattler rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
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 ...more
Dec 06, 2012 Patty rated it it was amazing
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
KJ Grow
Aug 29, 2012 KJ Grow rated it it was amazing
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 - ...more
Andrea Paterson
Aug 14, 2013 Andrea Paterson rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Lisa B.
Dec 21, 2012 Lisa B. rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 08, 2013 Wayne rated it really liked it
Set in a fictional community in southwestern Minnesota, this was a fantastic gothic, small-town mystery written by another wonderful Minnesota writer. The novel mixes meditations on faith, small town provincialism, family secrets, and our shared mythologies into a great story. I like how Maltman explores how outcasts and outsiders meet resistance in small towns with generational histories. I was reminded of the tv series 'Bates Motel' and Flannery O'Conner's stories. The writing is wonderful. ...more
Jan 20, 2013 Wendy rated it really liked it
Shelves: jan-13
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.

Mar 08, 2013 Sarah rated it it was amazing
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."
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
Mar 03, 2014 Amy Softa rated it really liked it
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
Feb 16, 2013 Rachael rated it it was amazing
Admittedly, I don't read much fiction. Therefore, perhaps there are stories out there that capture the mysteries and myths that run underneath the surface of our ordinary lives. But it's been a long time since I've read a story that beautifully ties together myth, family, small towns, and the struggles of everyday people. Little Wolves is that story.

I was captivated by the very beginning--a child left alone in the woods, a coyote ready to instinctively care for this mewling creature. Such storie
Paul Blaschko
Jan 16, 2013 Paul Blaschko rated it really liked it
Little Wolves was a quick read -- it's a rather short book and its plot is structured almost like a murder mystery, so I just kept returning until I was finished. It's set in rural Minnesota, and Maltman does a nice job of capturing the land and its history.

Most basically, the novel tells the story of a murder and its aftermath. Seth Fallon, a local troubled youth, walks to into town from his farmstead one day and shoots a Sheriff point-blank before going into a cornfield and killing himself. T
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Cedar Falls Publi...: Little Wolves 31 20 Mar 03, 2014 02:50PM  
WV Reads 150: read this month 1 20 May 04, 2013 12:51AM  
  • Hikikomori and the Rental Sister
  • Enigma (Russ Morgan Mystery #1)
  • Ratlines
  • The Realm of Last Chances
  • Mama's Boy, Preacher's Son: A Memoir
  • Vacationland
  • Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey between Genders
  • The Best of Youth
  • The Madonna on the Moon
  • Kind of Kin
  • Heaven Should Fall
  • Imperfect Spirituality: Extraordinary Enlightenment for Ordinary People
  • The Shattered Door
  • The Prayer Waltz
  • An Echo Through the Snow: A Novel
  • No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons Around Our Gay Loved Ones
  • God Loves Ugly
  • the small hours
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...

Share This Book

“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
More quotes…