cover image WOLF PASS


Steve Thayer, . . Putnam, $24.95 (251pp) ISBN 978-0-399-14991-7

Thayer brings back Deputy Sheriff P.A. Pennington of Kickapoo County, Wis. (hero of last year's The Wheat Field), who singlehandedly solves a set of sniper murders in which he is the chief suspect. The thriller is set in 1962, when Pennington is running for sheriff. As a Catholic, he meets with a good deal of suspicion from his largely Protestant electorate. That suspicion gets new focus when the double murder of a railway engineer and his wife disrupts the campaign, as the wife is a former lover of Pennington's. The engineer is shot at long range, and Pennington, a brilliant sharpshooter during WWII, is the obvious suspect in both murders. Yet he has a strong hunch about the real identity of the killer: former SS officer Col. Wolfgang Stangl. During the war, Pennington had escaped from a prison camp that Stangl directed. Now, Pennington believes, Stangl has come to the U.S. to set him up in a complicated revenge plot—and, what's worse, Stangl seems to be plotting to assassinate President Kennedy. Needless to say, Kickapoo law enforcement finds this story a bit far-fetched. But Pennington has a comely female Scotland Yard detective on his side, who mysteriously shows up in Kickapoo to help him out with the case. Their attempts to unveil Stangl bring the novel to a stunning climax. This fast-paced, sexy suspense novel also offers a snapshot of postwar ethnic and social rivalries in the bucolic fictional Wisconsin county. (Mar.)