by Lee Killough
Meisha Merlin Publishing, 353 pp.
Meisha Merlin is a fairly new kid on the block, having started publishing in 1996. Even so, they have a highly regarded stable of writers at this time: Robert Asprin, Jody Lynn Nye, Janny Wurts, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller to mention just a few. Their catalogue lists four titles by Killough.
Killough writes mysteries about cops, however most of her main characters are not exactly run of the mill. The primary character in Wilding Nights, Allison Goodnight, a homicide detective, has a secret—she and her whole family are werewolves—and her latest case results in a big problem. The mutilated victim shows strong evidence of having been done in by a rogue werewolf, who might be a member of her own clan. The secret of her family and her species requires that she solve this case without revealing to humans—especially cop humans—what the killer is. That revelation could spark humans’ racial memory of her kind and result in another persecution in a long history of persecutions.
Allison is aided by others of her clan who are cops, but hindered by a new partner, Zane Kerr, who at first is excited to be working with the detective with the highest successful conviction rate on the force. Allison’s secretive conduct arouses his suspicions, especially when he realizes that the physical description of the suspect matches Allison’s and many of her relatives.
Wilding Nights is a well-paced read and will keep your attention riveted as the plot unfolds. Werewolves in this story are not all predators, but not quite benefactors. They just want to co-exist alongside humans. Killough has created a species of “volke,” and thought through the process far enough to be able to describe the “shift” from their human guise to their true nature so clearly that you can picture it in your mind. You find yourself siding with the “Were” and rooting for their success. This is the first book I have read by Killough, but I will be looking for her name on the bookshelves from now on.