Greg Levin Takes us Into the Darkness
Trafficking and smuggling valuable commodities, whether legal or not, has always been a thriving enterprise despite the best efforts of lawmen (and women). There are always people willing to pay top dollar for drugs, guns, animals, food, and virtually anything else they cannot get at the corner store. With our tremendous strides in transportation technology we have also inadvertently helped give rise to a certain commodity on the black market: human beings. Some estimate human trafficking to be one of the most profitable illegal businesses… not to mention, one of the most dangerous and decadent ones. It can range from the mere transportation of people across borders to the sale of young girls into slavery. Thankfully, there are people willing to dive into the lion’s den and do the dirtiest work to help save those victims… people like Zero Slade in Greg Levin’s In Wolves’ Clothing.
Our hero Slade is part of a team dedicated to leading the fight against human trafficking, and the man himself is an undercover agent with years of experience behind him. He knows all the ins and outs of that world and has become one of the, if not the best at his job… which comes at a steep price. His marriage as well as his sanity are slowly slipping away from him, coinciding with an increasing dependence on painkillers. However, he doesn’t have time to worry about his life which seems like it will fall in ruins any day, because a girl has gone missing. More precisely, the youngest girl the squad has ever rescued has been kidnapped from her safe house in Cambodia. Slade knows the only way to find her again is to steel himself and dive deeper than he ever has into the dark underground world she was pulled into… a mission bound to bring death to those who get in its way.
Tunnels of Depravity
To begin with, I feel I must warn any potential readers out there about the heft of the subject matter found in this novel. I’m not talking about graphic descriptions necessarily, but the various implications and realities it leaves you to think about. Unfortunately, child trafficking is all too real of an issue in our world, and it feels as if it often falls under the radar for one reason or another. I felt Greg Levin did an exceptional job in shedding some light on this pressing problem in our modern society, providing a window into the horrors men wreak on each other. While he doesn’t exactly relish graphic details or things of the sort, he definitely has a way of using the right words in order to make the reader extrapolate on their own. I think this sort of approach was the right choice for it has the uncanny ability to get under your skin, or at least this was the case for me.
Of course, this remains a fictional novel, and is therefore centred on Zero Slade’s navigation of that world, which happens at a surprisingly fast and furious pace. There are so many twists and turns along the way, unsavoury characters and unexpectedly light moments it becomes hard to properly digest the true impact of the story and its implications, at least while you are reading it. It is riveting to see him racing against the clock and digging his way deeper and deeper into the core of depravity; it almost feels as if the story’s humanity is slowly being stripped away until the grand finale. This is definitely what I would call an adrenaline-fuelled ride, especially since Levin does a good enough job to make the reader doubt the possibility of a happy ending.
The Madness of Undercover Work
Zero Slade is more than just our vehicle to ride through a story about kidnapping and child trafficking. We get to know him quite well throughout the book, and he definitely falls into the category of extremely flawed protagonists, a trend which I am glad to see on the rise lately. As a matter of fact, we could almost class him as an anti-hero for his seeming lack of concern for anything besides his work, however important it might be. His battle with painkillers, slipping sanity and failing marriage all depict him as a man who makes complex decisions, sometimes not understandable, in the name of something he feels is more important than himself. He definitely grew on me as the novel progressed and made me curious not only to learn more about him, but to see where his character could potentially be taken to in future novels.
If there is one specific aspect about the character which I feel Levin captured exceptionally well, it’s the toll undercover work takes on him. We feel the slime he covers himself with and absorbs as he slips and wriggles into the darkest recesses of human existence, the toll years upon years of real horror have taken upon him. We are reminded time and time again of the price people like himself pay so others might have a chance to live, an element which stuck rather profoundly with me. By its virtue, undercover work is the type we don’t hear much about, and if we do it’s years and years after the fact. The exploits of these agents from all walks of the law go unpraised, and yet they pursue the thankless work until their minds and bodies are completely spent… something worth remembering for the rest of us who will thankfully never know what they do.
The Final Verdict
In Wolves’ Clothing by Greg Levin is a very sharp, thought-provoking and memorable novel with a very interesting and flawed, if not likeable anti-hero leading us down a jagged and dangerous path filled with twists and turns at every corner. It entertains all while reminding us of the parallels to this story which exist in the real world. If you enjoy psychological thrillers centred on kidnapping and human trafficking, with a bit of dark humour thrown in here and there, then I strongly recommend you give this book a read.
Greg Levin is an American author hailing from New York with a few books under his belt, as well as being the recipient of the 2015 Independent Publisher Book Award for Best Adult Fiction E-Book for his novel The Exit Man. He is also the author behind the Sick to Death and In Wolves’ Clothing.