Wolves at the Door
by Jon Patrick Haugan
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 02 Oct 2014 | Archive Date 27 Nov 2016
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 3 members
This story was disturbing in some ways, mostly because it addresses the issue of suicide. The tale follows a man named Peter Downs who is a news anchor on a television station in St. Louis. He seems, from outward appearances to have a perfect life. He’s got a good job and he gets a free limo ride to work each day, provided by the news station. He is married, but the marriage seems rocky. Peter is also severely depressed and paranoid, and he thinks often of suicide. Peter seems to have a good relationship with his driver and his doorman. He has a strange relationship with his co-worker, Roger. Peter also has some issues with the producer of this news program, sometimes questioning the stories that are presented and angering the producer. The city is dealing with a series of murders by a killer named the Happy Meal Serial Killer. Peter begins to see a man hanging out by the dumpsters in the parking lot at work. He suspects this man of being the serial killer because he often has a Happy Meal box. Each chapter in the book is followed by a chapter detailing various news events and details about suicides that happened on some important days in history. As the story progresses, we see Peter’s mental state decline as he spirals further into depression and paranoia. His internal dialog changes over the course of the novel, becoming more disturbed as time goes on. He drinks too much and ends up getting himself in situations due to this. He comes to work hung over and can’t function right and gets himself sent home. He reports the sighting of the serial killer to the police, who don’t believe him. He seems to be digging himself further and further into a hole as time goes on. His mental state deteriorates as time goes on. The narrative reflects this in his stumbling speech and his inability to form thoughts completely. His scattered thoughts show him reeling from the punches life throws at him. Peter’s descent into schizophrenia increases his thoughts of suicide. His wife and co-workers all seem to be working against him. He hears voices and talks back to them, which makes his wife angry, thinking he is talking to her. I found this novel to be well-written. It starts out as any story, but through the use of dialog and insights into Peter’s internal state, we begin to see his slow decline happening. He begins as a normal man, from outward appearances, and over time becomes more and more disturbed. It’s all reflected in his interactions with co-workers and other people around him. The author skillfully brings the reader into Peter’s confused internal world and shows us what it’s like to lose everything and have nothing left to live for. By the end of the story, we begin to see that Peter is headed for a big fall. I found the pace of this story to be steady without any long slow parts. The dialog is well done and the characters believable. The situations Peter finds himself in are ones that could conceivably be found in anyone’s life. The reader sees Peter’s reactions to the world around him and we begin to understand a bit more about mental illness and how it affects those who have it. The chapters with the historical information are helpful in understanding the overall narrative of the story and where it is going. This novel is an excellent look at the details of mental illness and suicide. I recommend it to anyone who wants to understand more about these illnesses or just wants to see how this could happen to someone who is otherwise normal.
Wolves at the Door by Jon Patrick Haugan is a mystery and thriller and general fiction (adult) read. Peter Downs is a nightly news reporter. Much like the news we see every night on television, he and his cohorts go from tragedy to tragedy, hitting us with what has become the soul of a failing empire; and he has become what he reports: depressed, schizophrenic, alcoholic, and drug abuser who has attempted suicide. Take a journey into the mind of a tortured soul and his attempts to find peace in his life-trapped in a loveless marriage, caught in a lifeless career with insensitive co-workers, fighting against authority figures, and faced with a serial killer lurking in the background, Wolves at the Door is a look at life in information age America. This was an OK read. Little slow but managed to read it. 3*. I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book from netgalley.