Just after the Civil War, a crime brings together four men searching for peace and justice in Kevin McCarthy’s gripping Wolves of Eden.
Failing as farm hands following the war, Irish immigrant brothers Michael and Thomas O’Driscoll enlist in the Union Army and are sent to help build the new Fort Phil Kearny. Lieutenant Molloy and his right-hand man, Corporal Kohn, are also sent to the fort to investigate a triple murder of the secretary of war’s sister, her husband and his assistant. As the soldiers struggle to defend the fort against Sioux attacks—based on the real Battle of Red Cloud (1866-68)—battles between good and evil rage on a more personal level as well.
The book dramatizes the ironies of war by contrasting these two sets of men. The storylines are out of sync, adding to the novel’s suspense, and alternate between entries from Michael’s journal and a third-person perspective focused mainly on Kohn. Throughout the novel, grim violence is offset by Kohn’s staunch devotion to Molloy, Thomas’ love for a Sioux prostitute and the brothers’ camaraderie with a camp photographer.
At the moment of truth surrounding the crime at the heart of the novel, the details add up to a tense jumble of passions and uncertainty. This Western-inspired historical war novel deserves recognition alongside the works of Patrick O’Brian and Hilary Mantel for its dynamic exploration of the depths of human depravity and compassion.