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Review: ‘Lone Wolf’ by Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult

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Jodi Picoult will dicuss and sign copies of Lone Wolf at two events on March 11:

◆ 2 p.m. at the Vernon Area Public Library, 1 Stevenson Dr., Lincolnshire. Tickets: $28 (includes copy of the book); $11 (without book). Book signing order is determined by date of ticket purchase.

◆ 7 p.m. at Regina Dominican High School, 701 Locust Rd., Wilmette.

For tickets and more information on both events: lakeforestbook

Updated: April 5, 2012 8:10AM

There are many aspirants to her throne, but nobody in commercial fiction cranks the pages more effectively than Jodi Picoult.

In her new novel, Lone Wolf (Atria, $28), Picoult shows off her skill less as a fiction writer than as a researcher. She’s able to make obscure medical conditions, legal issues, or, in this case, scientific research about wolves, utterly absorbing and accessible.

In Lone Wolf, the stars are four-legged and howling. By comparison, Picoult’s bipeds seem almost dull, save for biologist Luke Warren, a man who truly runs with the wolves.

Set in New Hampshire, Lone Wolf focuses on Warren’s families. The human one includes his adoring 17-year-old daughter, Cara; his estranged son Edward, who left home six years earlier at 18 after a fight with his father, and his ex-wife, Georgie, now married to a defense attorney who becomes pivotal to the plot.

The story opens with a crash. Literally. Luke and Cara are in a car accident. It leaves Luke in a coma and Cara injured in body and soul.

Georgie summons Edward from Thailand, where he teaches English. After hearing the doctors state that his father will not recover, Edward wants to pull the plug. To stop him, his enraged sister contacts a conservative government attorney. Charges are brought, lies are told, secrets are revealed chez courtroom. The mother is torn between her warring children, with her second husband representing her son against her daughter. Though readable, this legal domestic drama is predictable Picoult terrain.

What saves Lone Wolf is Picoult’s depiction of Luke’s other families, the different packs of wolves he has known and loved — including the two years he lives with a wild wolf pack in Canada. (The section on how they come to accept him is riveting.) Tall, blond and magnetic, Luke becomes a YouTube sensation upon his return when he creates his own captive wolf pack — and is filmed eating calf and deer carcasses with them.

Narrating this strange solitary man’s story in flashbacks, Picoult captures Luke’s destructive but magnificent obsession with these shy predators, weaving in details about how the mysterious creatures live, hunt, love and die. Always insightful about human families, Picoult proves to be equally perceptive about animal ones.

Gannett News Service

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