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Wolf's Revenge: A Leo Maxwell Mystery

Review

Wolf's Revenge: A Leo Maxwell Mystery

Lachlan Smith kicks things up a notch or two in WOLF’S REVENGE, the latest installment in his revered Leo Maxwell series. Leo is a San Francisco attorney who has made the transition from a public defender obtaining justice (or something close to it) for his shopworn clients to private practice. He also has moved out of the shadow of his father and brother, both successful attorneys in their own right who have experienced dramatically different falls from grace and station. This new book is full of revelations, surprises and shocks as Leo, even as he takes control of his life and practice, finds himself and his family in terrible danger.

"WOLF’S REVENGE is the best installment of the series to date. Smith’s ongoing brooding take on San Francisco’s seedier streets is darkly attractive, with the walking flotsam and jetsam occupying it, serving as quick but effective cautionary tales about the evils of bad companions and choices."

WOLF’S REVENGE begins with a Maxwell family outing at a baseball game that quickly turns terrifying when five-year-old Carly, Leo’s niece, goes missing. She is quickly returned by a stranger who claims that he found her wandering around the stadium. Of course, there is more to the story than that. Leo is quick to figure out that the alert stranger, Jack Sims, is hardly a Good Samaritan. Sims is delivering a message from Bo Wilder, the head of a wide-ranging criminal enterprise who controls it --- as well as Leo and his brother, Teddy --- from a prison cell in San Quentin. Wilder is apparently concerned that Leo, who has been taking criminal cases on referral from Wilder, is not hewing to the line that is set up for him. Carly’s brief disappearance is supposed to be Wilder’s way of conveying the message that Leo or any member of his family can be touched anywhere at anytime. This cannot come at a worse time for Leo, who is trying to maneuver the Maxwells out from under Wilder and his myriad criminal enterprises.

But Leo doesn’t really get a chance to implement any sort of plan as he is retained to defend a young woman who carried out an execution of an ex-convict affiliated with the Aryan Brotherhood on a busy street in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. The woman won’t talk --- she won’t even reveal her name --- so Leo is initially left bereft of any possible means of defending her. And it is here that WOLF’S REVENGE gets really, really good. Leo joins forces with Car, who had been Teddy’s go-to investigator, and utilizes him in tracing the woman’s recent and remote past. He is able to uncover a complex web of violence and deceit in which the repercussions of a robbery occurring over a decade before have a direct and proximate result in the present.

As Leo prepares for trial, though, a violent personal tragedy occurs that serves as a warning to him and Teddy. What is even worse is that everything, including the trial and Leo’s efforts to pull his family out from under the yoke of Wilder, may hinge on one man who seemingly represents the forces of law and order but whose obsessions may put Leo and his loved ones in even greater danger.

WOLF’S REVENGE is the best installment of the series to date. Smith’s ongoing brooding take on San Francisco’s seedier streets is darkly attractive, with the walking flotsam and jetsam occupying it, serving as quick but effective cautionary tales about the evils of bad companions and choices. I had privately wondered at the beginning of the series how long Smith could utilize Leo Maxwell’s understated character, not realizing that he apparently had planned a slow-boil development of Leo and those around him. It is obvious that, five books into the series, Smith is just getting started.

Oh, and by the way, readers who have been with the series from the beginning will be surprised at who gets off the bus --- permanently --- here. Read and see. You won’t be sorry.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on October 6, 2017

Wolf's Revenge: A Leo Maxwell Mystery
by Lachlan Smith

  • Publication Date: October 3, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press
  • ISBN-10: 080212707X
  • ISBN-13: 9780802127075