Tenderness of Wolves
1867, Canada: as winter tightens its grip on the isolated settlement of Dove River, a man is brutally murdered and a 17-year old boy disappears. Tracks leaving the dead man's cabin head north towards the forest and the tundra beyond. In the wake of such violence, people are drawn to the township - journalists, Hudson's Bay Company men, trappers, traders - but do they want to solve the crime or exploit it?One-by-one the assembled searchers set out from Dove River, pursuing the tracks across a desolate landscape home only to wild animals, madmen and fugitives, variously seeking a murderer, a son, two sisters missing for 17 years, a Native American culture, and a fortune in stolen furs before the snows settle and cover the tracks of the past for good.In an astonishingly assured debut, Stef Penney deftly waves adventure, suspense, revelation and humour into a panoramic historical romance, an exhilarating thriller, a keen murder mystery and ultimately, with the sheer scope and quality of her storytelling, one of the books of the year.
Winner of Costa First Novel Award 2007. Shortlisted for Independent Booksellers' Book of the Year Award: Adults 2007 and CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award 2007 and British Book Awards: Waterstones Newcomer of the Year Award 2008 and Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2008.
The Tenderness of Wolves first won its category of "best first novel" in the UK's Costa (formerly the Whitbread) Awards and we al felt that a wise choice had been made by the judges. When it subsequently went on to win the overall Costa we were delighted. This completely absorbing novel is set in the north of Canada around the 1860s.The Hudson Bay Company's dominance in the fur trade is coming to an end as most of the animals have been hunted to near extinction. Two settlements, Dove River and Caulfield, are peopled by immigrants who have been driven out of their homelands. A trapper, Laurent Jammet, has been murdered, scalped in his cabin. His young neighbour Francis Ross inadvertently sees the man he believes to be the killer and takes off after the suspect without telling anyone his plans. Naturally Francis falls under suspicion in the small community. Other characters with their own interests in mind, pursue the tracks in the snow left by the murder suspect and Francis. It has everything this novel. It's a fine thriller, a love story; it has vivid descriptions of landscape and a wonderful cast of characters all deftly woven into a satisfying whole.
Stef Penney was born and grew up in Edinburgh. After a degree in Philosophy and Theology from Bristol University she turned to film-making, studying Film and TV at Bournemouth College of Art. On graduation she was selected for the Carlton Television New Writers Scheme and has since written and directed two short films. The Tenderness of Wolves is her first novel.