When a young woman is murdered, suspicion quickly falls on her neighbour, Mr Wolphram, a retired teacher. Cultured and intellectual, but living alone, he is rapidly transformed by the media into a classic loner, an eccentric predator. When the double act of local detectives, fast-talking, quipping Gary and the more reserved Ander, start to question Wolphram, Ander realises that the suspect is one of his old teachers, the only humane one in the local private school he attended. As the murder investigation proceeds, Ander is drawn deeper and deeper back into his dark memories of the school culture, with its sadistic bullying. Now Mr Wolphram emerges as a victim, as he is increasingly demonised by the press, his life and reputation torn to shreds until even the arrest of the real murderer cannot restore it.
Inspired by a real-life case, Patrick McGuinness’s second work of fiction explores not only intolerance and the casually wielded power of the media to subvert reality, but also childhood, memory and the influence of the past on an individual’s present life. Perfectly paced, deeply perceptive and with flashes of humour to lighten its dark side, this is a deeply moving, memorable and all too timely novel.
Compulsively readable, in part because of the author’s precise handling of the moral climate in which the story plays out… Throw Me to the Wolves is sophisticated in its use of demotic language and police procedure, and keenly alert to the shabbiest impulses of both the British media and the British private school system.
Patrick McGrath, The New York Times
“[McGuinness] combines elegant prose with caustic commentary on romance, education and crime in his homeland.
Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post
McGuinness has fun with the colour and cliché of crime fiction… In its elegiac exploration of memory and the legacy of childhood trauma, though, Throw Me to the Wolves is intensely powerful, and a beautifully measured evocation of the way that far from being dead the past is, as Faulkner said, not even past.
Justine Jordan, The Guardian