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by Patrick McGuinness
Bloomsbury, April 2019
336 pages
ISBN: 1620401517

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

THROW ME TO THE WOLVES is written by Patrick McGuinness, an author who was short-listed for the Mann-Booker prize for a previous novel. This current book is a murder mystery that focuses on much more than just solving a crime. When the body of a young woman, Zalie Dyer, is discovered near the Thames, circumstantial evidence points to her neighbor, a 68-year old retired teacher named Michael Wolphram, as the likely suspect. He is a loner with eccentric tastes and the media are quick to climb on the band-wagon and presume his guilt.

One of the policemen in charge of the case is Ander, who was a pupil of Wolpharm's thirty years ago. His memories of Chapleton, the boy's school he attended, and the experience of dealing with many of the bullying teachers and other students are important parts of the book. In Ander's memory, Wolphram was an open and accepting teacher, who did his own thing and gave his students many unique learning opportunities. These memories surface along with the memories about the cruelty of other teachers and of the English school system.

Ander does not believe that Wolphram would have committed the murder, but his task throughout seems to be disproving his old teacher's guilt as people come forward with lies about Wolphram that seem to have been purchased by the newspapers to keep the story exciting. He has been tried and convicted by the media, and rather than searching for evidence to prove Wolphram guilty, Ander must endeavor to prove him innocent. And he does not have much time to search for other suspects or scenarios.

As we accompany Ander on his exploration of the past, we sense the emotional depths these memories add to his present task. The author's writing style also creates a reading experience beyond that of most murder mysteries. Life itself, and how it has played out for the characters in the book, is really his topic, as well as the very timely focus on how the truth can be skewed by the media coverage.

Anne Corey is a writer, poet, teacher and botanical artist in New York's Hudson Valley.

Reviewed by Anne Corey, April 2019

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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