The Loop

( 7 )

Overview

From the author of The Horse Whisperer comes the phenomenal #1 New York Times bestseller, an extraordinary new novel of love, family, and man's struggle with the wild.

A pack of wolves makes a sudden savage return to the Rocky Mountain ranching town of Hope, Montana, where a century earlier they were slaughtered by the thousands. Biologist Helen Ross has come to Hope from the East, fleeing a life in shambles, determined to save the wolves from...

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Overview

From the author of The Horse Whisperer comes the phenomenal #1 New York Times bestseller, an extraordinary new novel of love, family, and man's struggle with the wild.

A pack of wolves makes a sudden savage return to the Rocky Mountain ranching town of Hope, Montana, where a century earlier they were slaughtered by the thousands. Biologist Helen Ross has come to Hope from the East, fleeing a life in shambles, determined to save the wolves from those who seek to destroy them. But an ancient hatred awaits her in Hope, a hatred that will tear a family and ultimately the community apart. And soon Helen is at the center of the storm, by loving the wrong man, by defying the wrong man . . . by daring to lead a town out of the violent darkness of its past. . . .

Visit the Nicholas Evans Web site at http://www.nicholasevans.com

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Editorial Reviews

Cynthia Sanz
Gripping, big drama in Big Sky country. -- People Magazine
USA Today
Spotlights the majesty, mystery, and conflicts marking America's frontier country.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Fans of Evans' bestselling novel The Horse Whisperer may find that this issue-oriented follow-up is a case of deja vu. Montana is again the setting; animals are crucial to the plot and a love story between dissimilar people is the heart-tugger. The bitter debate over the reintroduction of wolves into the American West provides the hook. After the book opens with the killing of a family dog by a stray wolf, the battle lines are quickly and clearly drawn. The wolf-hating cowboys are led by quintessential alpha male Buck Calder, the region's biggest rancher, bully and philanderer. Primary opposition comes from wolf biologist Helen Ross, an Easterner hired to keep the wolves safe from ranchers and more selective about their predation. She eventually teams up -- professionally and romantically -- with Calder's stuttering, insecure son Luke, much to his father's disgust. This underplayed romance is nicely done, as is the burgeoning revolt within the Calder household by Luke and Eleanor, Buck's surprisingly self-possessed wife.

But Evans once again shows himself capable of graceless writing. As if preparing for the inevitable casting call, detailed character studies occupy large portions of the initial 100 pages, pre-empting later, subtler disclosures. His passages on wolf behavior read like mediocre nature film scripts. The novel is more a work of ideology than imagination. Among its overt messages: man is out of sync with nature; the New West is full of lonely, emotionally scarred people licking their wounds; and wolves make better alpha males than humans do.

Library Journal
In his second novel, Evans returns to Montana, the scene of his best-selling The Horse Whisperer), with a tale of conflict and love. The government's decision to introduce Canadian wolves back into the western United States disgusts powerful rancher Buck Calder, but his anger knows no bounds when a wolf wanders onto his daughter's farm and kills the family's dog. This incident, plus a series of cattle killings that Calder attributes to roving bands of wolves, leads him and his fellow ranchers to bring in a wolf killer -- a man who uses the loop (a particularly inhumane method of eradicating the wolf population). Meanwhile, the government sends Helen, a beautiful young biologist, to Montana to monitor the wolves. She comes into direct conflict with Calder but wins the admiration and love of his son, Luke. This overwritten novel is about 150 pages too long. Do we really need to know that Helen's mother has a dynamite sex life with her second husband, or that her father is marrying a woman younger than Helen? For all that, this is a good story that will not disappoint Evans's many fans. Recommended for popular fiction collections everywhere. -- Nancy Pearl, Washington Center for the Book, Seattle
Erik Burns
. . .[A] novel of big themes. . . as seen from a variety of perspectives. . .[the characters'] interactions are often the stuff of breathless romance. [Evans'] true gifts are demonstrated in his colorful, captivating depictions of the land. -- The New York Times Book Review
Alexandra Jacobs
It's filled with pretty scenery, but its characterizations. . .collapse. . .in one big, exhausted heap of wolf. -- Entertainment Weekly
USA Today
Spotlights the majesty, mystery, and conflicts marking America's frontier country.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616875121
  • Publisher: Dell Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/8/1998
  • Pages: 434
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Nicholas Evans is also the author of The Horse Whisperer, the #1 bestseller that has enthralled millions of readers around the world. He lives in London, where he is at work on his next novel.

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Read an Excerpt



It was Kathy's mother. She said the pie had burned but not to worry because she had something else in the freezer that they could microwave.

"Oh and Luke says he'll come, if that's okay."

"Of course it's okay."

Luke, Kathy's brother, had just turned eighteen. He was sweet with the baby whenever she bumped into him down at the ranch, but he and Clyde didn't get along too well and since she'd been married, Luke hadn't been up here to the house more than a couple of times. As kids, they had never really been close. But then no one was close to Luke. Except, of course, their mom. She was the only one, in the end, who could handle his stutter.

Kathy had always been too impatient. Even when she was old enough to know better, she couldn't help finishing his sentences for him when he blocked. Since he'd graduated from high school, a couple of months ago, she'd hardly seen him. He was getting to be more of a loner than ever, it seemed to Kathy, always off on his own in the wilderness with only that funny-looking horse of his for company.

Anyway, he was coming to supper and that was fine.

Her mother asked how the baby was and Kathy said he was just great and thatshe'd better get off the phone because it was coming up toward his feed time and she still had things to do.

It was just as she hung up that the dogs started barking.

Normally, she wouldn't have given this a second thought. The dogs were forever hollering and taking off after some varmint or other. But there was something about the noise they were making now that made her look out of the window.

Maddie, the old collie, had her tail tucked under her andwas slinking off around the side of the barn, muttering over her shoulder. Prince, the yellow Labrador that Kathy's father had given her when they first moved up here, was pacing to and fro with his hackles up. His ears alternately pricked and flattened as if he were unsure of himself and he punctuated his barking with worried little whines. His eyes were fixed on something beyond the house, something up toward the meadow.

Kathy frowned. She'd better go see what was spooking them. The pan in which she was cooking the corn started to hiss and she went over to the stove and turned down the heat. When she came out through the kitchen screen door and stepped down into the yard there was no sign of the collie. Prince seemed relieved to see her.

"Hey you, what's going on here?"

The dog started to come toward her, then seemed to change his mind. Perhaps her presence gave him that little extra courage he'd been lacking, for now he took off in full cry around the side of the house, kicking up the dust as he went.

It was only then that the thought struck her. The baby. There was something on the porch, getting at the baby. She started to run. It must be a bear. Or a mountain lion. God, how could she have been so dumb?

As she came around the corner of the house, Kathy saw, directly below the porch, what at first she took for a big, black dog, a German shepherd maybe. It turned to face the Labrador's charge.

"Get out of here! Git!"

The animal glanced at her and she felt the yellow flash of his eyes upon her and knew in that instant this was no dog.

Prince had skidded to a halt before the wolf and had lowered himself, his front paws splayed so that his chest was just inches from the ground. He had his teeth bared and was snarling and barking but with such timid bravado that it seemed he might at any moment roll over and submit. The wolf stood very still, but somehow at the same time seemed to make himself bigger so that he towered over the dog. His tail was bushy and raised high. Slowly, he curled back his lips and snarled and his long incisors showed white.

Then, in a single lunge, he had his jaws on the Labrador's throat and swung him off his feet and through the air as if he were no heavier than a jackrabbit. The dog yelped and Kathy had a sudden image in her head of the wolf having already done the same with her baby and she screamed and jumped onto the end of the porch.

The buggy was at the far end and it seemed like a hundred miles away as she ran toward it.

Oh God, please. Don't let him be dead. Please don't let him be dead.

She couldn't tell whether the buggy had been disturbed, but even through the dog's shrieking, she knew her baby inside was silent and the thought of what she would find made her sob.

When she got there she hardly dared look. But she forced herself and saw the child staring up at her, his face breaking into a gummy grin, and she cried out and reached down and snatched him up. She did it with such sudden violence that the child began to cry and she held him to her so hard that he cried even louder. She turned, pressing her back to the wall, and looked down from the porch.

The wolf was standing with his head lowered over the Labrador. Kathy could see right away that the dog was dead. His hind legs gave a final twitch, just like they did in his dreams when he slept in front of the fire. His throat had been torn out and his belly gaped like a gutted fish. The bleached grass under him rivered red. Kathy screamed again and the wolf started, as if he'd forgotten she was there. He stared right at her and she could see the glisten of blood on his face.

"Get out of here! Go on! Get out!"

She looked around for something to throw at him but there was no need. The wolf was already running off and within moments he was ducking under the fence and loping up among the cattle who had all quit their grazing to watch the spectacle below. At the top of the meadow he stopped and looked back to where Kathy still stood over the dead dog, clutching her baby and crying. Then he turned and vanished into the shadow of the forest.

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