Jason Starr has written a werewolf novel that, if it doesn't make you `howl' with laughter, will make you smile, because it is soaked in some delicious dark humour.
Our protagonist Simon Burns is an ad exec , family man and New Yorker. He's expecting promotion at the start of the novel, but is abruptly fired. This is an effective scene of urban torment and trauma that fuels the mood of urban paranoia and claustrophobia that this novel is steeped in, and for which it develops its own lycanthropic response. For Simon is about to experience a bizarre new freedom...
His sacking starts a chain of events. Frustrated as a stay at home Dad, he meets a trio of Alpha male Dads at a playground with his son, and is eventually invited to a gathering at their `leader's' (Michael) pad. Here he's invited to eat a lot of steak, given an unusual intoxicating beer, passes out, and comes too naked in the woods. He will soon discover his life has changed forever. He has somehow unlocked a store of seemingly unlimited energy and sexual and athletic prowess, and incredibly enhanced sensory powers. It's the urban fantasy stifled and fearful New Yorkers may dream of.
But it comes with a terrible price.
Starr's novel references and borrows happily from its genre, for example the humour and urban setting references "An American Werewolf in London," the office politics, theme of enhanced sensory abilities and again urban setting can be found in "Wolf," and the unlocking of energy, strength and sexual prowess through a weird infection ultimately leading to bizarre transformation can be found in "The Fly."
The scenes of wolf carnage are not frequent, apart from a welcome set of climactic battles in the end. For the most part the novel focuses on the theme of transformed self, the revelling in new strengths, and how this could affect a `normal' married relationship and family life. It does overdo the scenes of Simon endlessly smelling and screwing his wife through his new enhanced abilities and appetites, and this makes for a bit of sag in the middle, but in the last 100 pages or so something clicks and everything fires up, from the humour to the action. It is very funny in parts; the scenes with the rampage of a certain she-wolf, and Simon struggling to tell his wife of his condition are an absolute treat.
All in all, then, the Pack is a great, entertaining howl at the moon. There's plenty here to make me want to sink my teeth into the sequel.