Wolf Bog

It’s August in the Berkshires, and the area is suffering from a terrible drought. As wetlands dry up, the perfectly-preserved body of a local young man, missing for forty years, is discovered in Wolf Bog by a group of hikers that includes Kathryn Stinson.


Who was he and what was his relationship with close friend Charlotte Hinckley, also on the hike, that would make Charlotte become distraught and blame herself for his death? Kathryn’s search for answers leads her to the discovery of fabulous parties held at the mansion up the hill from her rental house, where local teenagers, like the deceased, mingled with the offspring of the wealthy. Other questions dog the arrival of a woman claiming to be the daughter Charlotte gave up for adoption long ago. But is she really Charlotte’s daughter? And if not, what’s her game? Once again, Kathryn’s quest for the truth puts her in grave danger.

Based on 11 Reviews
Sharon R. Yang
July 25, 2022

Excitement from the start. Great sense of character and place throughout.

Leslie Wheeler’s Wolf Bog is one of those conundrums that readers love. The plotting, with more twists and turns than a Berkshire mountain switchback, propels you swiftly toward the finish. Yet the pleasure of reading her writing, her characters, setting, and atmosphere, makes you want to savor the novel. You reach the ending satisfied with the resolutions and the revelations of the book’s secrets but you want to get back on the ride again. When is that next Hillside Mystery due? Wolf Bog starts with an unexpected bang. Katherine Stimpson is back for her regular weekend stay in New Nottingham, taking an arduous but enjoyable hike through woods and swamp to the haunting Wolf Bog with local friends. Seems like fun, until the drought-receding waters of the bog reveal a dead body only a couple of pages in! Wait, there’s more! One of her older local friends, Charlotte, recognizes the body as that of a former boyfriend who had inexplicably disappeared some forty years ago, now well-preserved by the acidic waters of the bog! From here on in, to help her friend achieve peace (and assuage her own curiosity), Katherine finds herself carefully unraveling the time-woven camouflage hiding old rivalries and resentments, broken hearts, unrequited love, regrets, and class resentments. Adding to the mystery, the unexpected and timely appearance of a stranger linked to Charlotte’s past tensely complicates this woman’s life and Katherine’s attempt to help her. Wolf Bog is an exciting and deftly plotted unfurling of hidden pasts, made especially enjoyable and intriguing because we see Katherine strengthening her bonds with the people of New Nottingham. There are several other points that I particularly enjoy here. Leslie Wheeler brings forward supporting characters from previous entries in the series to create her mystery. With them, she shows the strength of friendship in freeing the truth. Katherine’s relationship with her fella Earl seems much more comfortable and supportive. I especially like the humorous interplay between Earl’s Dad and Katherine. In addition, the author does a wonderful job of recreating the mystery, beauty, and even ferocity of rural western Massachusetts. She brings to life and effectively draws on the tensions between the newcomers (even “new” for forty years) and founding families who had scrambled to make life pay in the rugged landscape for hundreds of years. Finally, being a frequent traveler to that corner of the Northeast where Massachusetts, Vermont, and Connecticut merge into New York, I was absolutely at home with her recreation of the gorgeous, but often intimidating, landscape. The novel’s sense of people and place takes you deep into that rustic world.

Wolf Bog

It’s as if the discovery of Denny’s body upset people more than his actual disappearance. It certainly disrupted many lives. Although Kathryn is a weekender and not a local, she can’t leave the mystery alone. Lives are now in danger with too many people who are not who they seem to be. Just because you’ve known someone for a long time, you may not really know them. Kathryn has seen some clues in old photographs. Now she just needs to tie them together to keep people from being murdered. Maybe even herself. Then there’s Charlotte’s very possessive daughter who pops up out of nowhere. Thank you, Ms Wheeler. This is the first Berkshire Hilltown Mystery I’ve read, but don’t want it to be my last. ***Book provided without charge by PICT.***

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