cover image Wolves of Eden

Wolves of Eden

Kevin McCarthy. Norton, $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-393-65204-8

Set in late 1866 amid Red Cloud’s War in the Dakota Territory, McCarthy’s third novel (after Peeler) is a historically rich blend of mystery, morality, and brutal frontier warfare between the U.S. Army and the Sioux. Cavalry Lt. Martin Molloy and his loyal orderly Sergeant Kohn are ordered to Fort Phil Kearney to investigate the triple murder of the secretary of the treasury’s brother-in-law, his wife, and his assistant at a brothel. The pair receive troubling instruction to hang anybody, white or Native American, to get political heat off the general. Molloy and Kohn are Civil War veterans, Molloy a moralist and hopeless drunk, Kohn a duty-bound realist. Together they face two deadly foes—the Sioux outside the fort and men inside who do not want the murders solved. As a parallel and through Michael’s journal, the stories of Pvts. Michael and Thomas O’Driscoll, Irish immigrant soldiers at the fort, are told, revealing a provident connection with Molloy. When the murderers are identified, Molloy won’t arrest them because he believes the murders are justified, so Kohn, a man without sentiment, decides to take matters into his own hands. Though not for the squeamish, this is a riveting and propulsive mystery. (Nov.)