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WINTER OF THE WOLF by Martha Hunt Handler


by Martha Hunt Handler

Pub Date: July 7th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-62634-718-2
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group

A teenager becomes obsessed with the mystery of her brother’s death in this YA novel.

Handler’s remarkable story pulls readers into the swirling mind of Bean Hanes,a 15-year-old Minnesotan who found her “soul mate and favorite brother,” Sam, dead in his bedroom, shortly after an accident in which he hit a deer with his car.Sam is present throughout the story in Bean’s rich, yet tortured, memories, and she reflects on his deep curiosity about the Indigenous Inuit people; the teenager identified deeply with Inuit culture and even wanted to be buried in accordance with Inuit practices. Although his death is ruled a suicide, Bean can’t accept it, and she and her best friend, Julie, go on a mission to uncover the truth. The mystery is peppered with curious and sometimes conflicting details about who Sam really was and how he may have died. As Bean’s grief becomes deeper, she looks for answers in the spiritual realm, and the story’s mystical elements (including departed spirits, totem animals, and shamanic rituals) combine with standard sleuthing to create a solid mystery. For example, Bean has a recurring, meaningful dream about a storm and an open window in Sam’s room, and some pieces of physical evidence, such as an unfamiliar camouflage belt that was found with Sam’s body, raise intriguing questions. Bean and Julie piece together a complex list of possible scenarios and suspects, including Sam’s close friend Skip, who was expected at their house that evening but didn’t show up, didn’t attend Sam’s funeral, and suddenly dropped out of their lives. Over the course of this breathless narrative, Handler keeps readers guessing at the solution until the very end.

A supernaturally tinged whodunit that will enrapture mystery fans.