The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Wolfen is Whitley Strieber’s first investigation into the lives of wolves. Several of his later books examine wolves from a naturalistic perspective. This one poses the existence of wolflike creatures that run in small packs and inhabit all major cities of the Western world. The implications are meant to be chilling.

Becky Neff and George Wilson are detectives assigned to a puzzling double homicide, in which two police officers are killed at a police vehicle pound. The two officers were ravaged and completely gutted, and they never had time to draw their guns. Animal hairs found at the scene begin an investigation that leads the partners to interview scientists, to be interfered with by the district attorney and their superiors in the police department, and finally to have to determine a way to survive attacks by what one scientist tags “the wolfen.”

As Neff and Wilson investigate, they are drawn to a largely abandoned part of the city. There they find blood and evidence of both human and animal habitation. By chance, Neff does not climb to the top of a flight of stairs, where one of the wolfen had been waiting to kill her.

Little by little, they learn more about the wolfen, and Strieber gives the reader insights from the perspective of the pack leader. The wolfen are a mutant strain of animal that came about centuries ago, when people first developed ideas about werewolves. They are amazingly fast and...

(The entire section is 491 words.)