Epeolatry Book Review: In the Wolf’s Lair


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Title: In the Wolf’s Lair: A Beastly Crimes Book
Author: Anna Starobinets
Genre: Children’s Mystery Books
Publisher: Dover Publications
Release Date: 17 October 2018

Synopsis: Life in the Far Woods tends to be tranquil because the animal denizens are strictly forbidden to kill (or eat!) one another. An elderly detective, Chief Badger, oversees the community and solves its petty crimes, from stolen pine cones to plucked tail feathers. His restless assistant, Badgercat, longs for some excitement — a desperate crime, a beastly crime! The brash youngster’s hopes are realized when some croaking frogs reveal the shocking news of Rabbit’s murder. Wolf appears to be the most likely culprit, because — duh — he’s a lone wolf without an alibi, but Badger refuses to jump to conclusions. With the help of Vulture the crime scene investigator, Mouse the psychologist, brave witness Beetlebug Buck, and other curious creatures, the woodland detectives set out to discover the truth.  
Newly translated from the original Russian, this fancifully illustrated volume is the first of a Beastly Crimes Books to come from this imaginative mystery series geared toward middle-grade readers. Look for the sequel, A Predator’s Rights, also available from Dover Publications.

In the Wolf’s Lair is the first installment of Dover Publications’ “A Beastly Crimes Book” series. The novel was written by Anna Starobinets and is also illustrated by Marie Muravski. The illustrations here really make the story and as Dover is well known for putting the extra work into making their releases stand out and this helps to do just that.

In this novel, we’re thrown into a world of animals where foul play is afoot. This is a mystery that could be for older children and young adults with the darker humor you’ll find in these pages. Honestly, this can be fully appreciated by adults as it could easily feel at home for fans of A Nightmare Before Christmas.  

If it couldn’t be enjoyed by most of our readers, you wouldn’t be seeing a review here! In another year or so I will absolutely be re-reading this with my older son when he can fully appreciate the humor in it! 

The book follows the police chief who is a badger and his depute who thinks he’s a badger. He isn’t, and you’ll come to appreciate the humor of that as you read the story. The animals in this story are all vegetarians, even the meat eaters. However, we soon find that Mr. Rabbit has been murdered.

Actually, he’s been eaten.

Now an investigation is running full steam as to who took him out. The main suspects are the predator animals but as any good mystery will show you – things aren’t what they seem.  

There are twists, turns, and humor in this murder mystery and you’ll be flipping pages to figure out this whodunit!

4 out of 5 stars.

In the Wolf’s Lair can be found on amazon here.

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