Wolfe Trap

By: Matt Cost

Clay Wolfe is a former Boston homicide detective who has left the police department to return home to Maine to care for his elderly grandfather and open a private detective agency.


Haunted by being orphaned at an early age, and jaded by the corruption of the big city, Clay is happy to hit pause and investigate minor crimes. When he is hired to find out who sold the drugs that killed a six-month-old baby girl, he has no idea of the evil that he is going to uncover in the underbelly of his hometown. Wolfe Trap is a thrilling ride set in a small Maine town with rich characters and shocking plot twists that will keep the reader rapt until the final pages.

Based on 185 Reviews
October 18, 2023

5.0 out of 5 stars The classic PI

In Wolfe Trap, the first of a new series from Maine writer Matt Cost, we have the classic PI, the literary character type who’s been around for almost a century. A hard-drinking, hard-fighting, and hard-loving man, he’s relentless in his search for the truth. We open in the familiar trope setting, his office, with a new female client– but this one is no femme fatale, rather a grandmother seeking vengeance. Clay Wolfe embarks on a dangerous journey into the seedy underbelly of his hometown, risking everything to set things right, despite the near-impossibility of the task. If you like your PI novels in the Old School Style, you’ll enjoy this outing.

Jay Ruud
June 2, 2023

5.0 out of 5 stars A Neo-Noir Thriller

Known for his previous series of “Mainely” mysteries, in Wolfe Trap Matt Cost sets off on a new series of crime novels featuring Clay Wolfe, a former homicide detective from Boston now working in his home town of Port Essex, Maine, as a private investigator. The novel opens in a style that recalls—almost parodies—the hard-boiled detective fiction popularized by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler back in the ’40s. Wolfe is a hard-drinking, wise-cracking former cop with an eye for women. But a reader is quickly pulled from any expectation of seeing Humphrey Bogart or William Powell emerge from the P.I. office by a very contemporary crime: a grandmother wants Clay to discover who has supplied her daughter with the heroin that ultimately killed her six-month-old grandchild. His client is short on cash, but Wolfe takes the case anyway, having a soft spot for the woman’s pain. Soon after, another case drops into Clay’s lap, one that is likely to be a lot more lucrative: he is approached by a billionaire CEO of Big Pharma who says that a valuable sculpture—a Rodin piece—has been stolen from his Port Essex vacation home. It seems an odd distraction from Wolfe’s main case, but soon enough the investigations mesh and the plot is off to the races. The story moves fast and the book is hard to put down. Clay has a few allies, including his grandfather, the former attorney Gene Wolfe; his old pal and former Navy SEAL “Westy” Beck; and the journalist Marie Cloutier. He also has the requisite straight-talking hard-boiled P.I. assistant Baylee Baker, who explodes the stereotype by showing herself to be competent partner-material in the sleuth business. And then there’s the police officer and casual sex-partner Donna Smith, whose motives seem murky at best. Wolfe’s queries into what seems a simple case uncover a complex criminal enterprise and an international cartel bringing illegal drugs through Port Essex’s provincial harbor, and lead the reader into a violent, breathless climax. This first Clay Wolfe novel is beautifully successful at what it sets out be: a contemporary noir novel that could be ripped from today’s headlines. If that’s what you’re looking for, this book is for you.

February 13, 2023

5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting Noir Style Mystery blended with suspense and humor

A grandmother is seeking the arrest of the drug killer that brought about the death of her six-month-old granddaughter to a heroin/fentanyl overdose. Clay Wolfe is an ex-Boston Cop gone on to become a tenacious Private Investigator both with his cases and his love interests. Wolfe becomes embroiled in several cases that become extremely dangerous. Will he solve the cases or become a statistic? The author, Matt Cost mixes humor, action, and suspense in this noir-styled mystery. His character development is strong. His plot line moves forward smoothly, and plot twists are unexpected. Cost is skillful at directing the listener’s anger, admiration, etc. to his characters. One should be upset at the mother for rubbing the mixture of drugs on the baby’s gums, but I found myself not as angry at her as I should have been but rather very angry at the drug dealer/network. There was more than one bad guy at the center of this novel, there were many. Given the number of bad guys, Cost kept the story moving forward smoothly and with clarity. Cost was detailed in building the story and kept the suspense strong. The narrator, Jason Arnold delivered a clear and strong performance. He spoke clearly and promoted a strong connection to the characters. His tone and narration style reminded me of the noir style mystery. I enjoyed his performance and felt it enhanced the story. This is a well-written noir-like-style mystery with suspense, action, and humor. This is an interesting and enjoyable listen that will have you listening to the end. There were no issues with the quality or production of this audiobook.

Scott Lipanovich
August 14, 2022

5.0 out of 5 stars Fluid plotting combined with interesting characters equals a good read

Wolfe Trap, the first of Matt Cost’s mysteries set in Port Essex, Maine, is on par with the four “Mainely” mysteries Cost previously wrote. (Mainely Fear, Mainely Money, etc.) We are given a cast of interesting characters, rich plotting and plenty of action. P.I. Goff Langdon of the four Mainely books is replaced by Clay Wolfe, who fled the corruption of the Boston police force, returned to his hometown and set up shop as a P.I. Wolfe is a hard drinking man who tosses back liquor like others might down Diet Cokes. Most of his buddies can keep pace with him. Author Cost adds plot complications seamlessly. What begins as a fairly simple search to find out who sold drugs that ended up killing a six-month-old grows into Clay Wolfe uncovering an international drug running operation. As Wolfe moves up the food chain to ever-bigger fish, the stakes rise, rise, and reach a violent climax. The number of characters, and the amount of action, may overshadow the skill with which the author gives the reader the landscapes and culture of Maine, his hometown, so to speak.

Mr. E. Cox
June 11, 2022

enjoyable read

Good plot with plenty of twists. Some of the twists seemed improbable but it didn’t seem to spoil the read

E. Meza
April 20, 2022

5.0 out of 5 stars Could not stop…

This is an action packed book , a very good, well written and obviously well researched story. Characters are believable and real characters!

November 16, 2021

5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting new series!

Very well written and outstanding characterization. I’m looking forward to reading additional books in this series!

November 3, 2021

5.0 out of 5 stars Thriller

Clay Wolfe, former Boston PD Detective, has returned to his hometown Port Essex ,Maine, to watch over his aging grandfather. He starts his own private detective agency and an assignment to find who sold the drugs that killed his client’s granddaughter opens the proverbial can of worms that puts the lives of all those that Clay knows and cares for at risk. Little does he know that this job will lead him to question all he knows about his hometown. Although a bit slow at first, this story develops into a “can’t put it down thriller.” Hopefully more books featuring Clay Wolfe will be forthcoming. #WolfeTrap #NetGalley

July 2, 2021

5.0 out of 5 stars Things aren't always as they first appear

Small town, retirement, sounds great, right? Maybe take on some light work as a PI…unfortunately that isn’t what fate has in store for Wolfe. The town might be small, but the evil runs deep. The characters were well fleshed out and believable, the pacing was perfect, and there were enough twists to keep you guessing. If you’re looking for a mystery where things are definitely not as they appear, then you’re going to love this book as much as I did! I cannot wait to see what lies in store for Wolfe in the next installment.

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