Black Wolf
May 11, 2024
Book Review

Black Wolf

reviewed by Lou Jacobs


A tour de force police procedural that quickly evolves into a mystery-thriller, Black Wolf begs the reader to immediately want more. Thankfully, this is the second book in a quirky trilogy that has been recently translated from Spanish and has won international awards.

The award-winning first novel was adapted into an amazing seven-episode series on Prime Network in February 2024. The star of the show and books is the reluctant and brilliant detective, Antonio Scott, who possesses an IQ of 242. She has a rare intelligence and a mind that sees what few others can. She is as compelling and unconventional as Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander. From simple observations at a crime scene, she solves baffling murders. Her skills are legendary and continue to build as she works for a shadowy international agency known as the “Red Queen Project.” This project operates outside conventional law enforcement and answers to no higher authority, with units hidden from public scrutiny and social media in multiple European countries. They specialize in dealing with serial killers, pedophiles, terrorists, and human traffickers. Antonio’s only intermediary is known by the codename: Mentor. In the field, Antonio is accompanied by a “shield bearer”—an overweight gay cop, Inspector Jon Gutierrez. He provides Antonio with a buffer in dealing with “real-life” problems and logistics, sometimes muscle, and a grounding in humanity.

Police uncover a shipping container containing the remains of eight women. Meanwhile, trafficker Yuri Voronin is brutally murdered by the Russian Mafia, and his pregnant trophy wife, Lola Moreno, narrowly escapes and flees for her life, not knowing where to run or who to trust. Antonio and Jon are immediately assigned to the case by Mentor, with a high priority to find Lola before she is terminated. The mob, desperate to eliminate Lola, hires the notorious Black Wolf (“Chernaya Volchista”) to finish the job. Known as a vicious executioner and assassin who never fails, Antonio will have multiple terrifying confrontations with Black Wolf as blood spills and the body count rises.

Juan Gomez-Jurado proves to be a masterful storyteller as he weaves multiple plot twists together in a race against time while impending danger escalates for victims and investigators.

Unexpected confrontations in bloody detail intensify the intrigue and suspense. The last quarter of the book turns into a frenetic page-turner.

I personally switched back and forth between the audio and written versions. This tale was narrated by one of my favorite narrators, Scott Brick, a multiple award-winning narrator with deeply-seated experience as an actor. (I suggest jumping onto the roller coaster rides of Gregg Hurwitz’s “Orphan X” series—all narrated by the amazing Scott Brick.) Scott has the unique talent of providing an individual voice and timbre to each character, turning the tale into a dramatic presentation rather than just a “reading.” I cannot wait until the publication of the highly anticipated concluding novel, “White King.” This series has proven to be a gift to thriller aficionados.

Thanks to NetGalley, Minotaur Books, and Macmillan Audio for providing an Uncorrected Proof and Advance Audio version for my review, in exchange for an honest review.

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