Neither man had made a sound. Houlihan had seen the one in front of them twitch its eyes, but before he could follow the movement there was a searing pain in his throat and he was suddenly, desperately, struggling for air through the bubbling torrent of his own blood.
As a technicality, I must mention that Wolfen are not werewolves but rather creatures that evolved from wolf ancestors. They are highly intelligent and manage to stay hidden through a genius plan of only attacking and eating the homeless and those who won’t be missed. By covering their tracks, the wolfen manage to live in secrecy. Strieber creates the compelling world of the wolfen with such detail and care, it almost makes readers believe these creatures might be lurking around in the darkness somewhere.
At the onset of Wolfen, two members from the Police Auto Squad are viciously murdered by an inexperienced wolfen, which threatens the secrecy in which the wolfen live. Two detectives, Becky Neff and George Wilson, investigate the cause of death of their two slain associates after finding the official cause of death inconclusive. As the detectives grow ever closer to revealing the existence of the wolfen, there is confusion as to whether the detectives are the predators or the prey. The cat and mouse game between wolfen and detectives ramps up the excitement and thrills during this novel.
Strieber is a master at creating tension, not only for the detectives who are on the hunt, but also for the wolfen that are trying to survive in the world. While, of course, the wolfen are the bad guys murdering innocent people, it’s not a black and white good/bad dynamic. There is a level of sympathy developed for the wolfen that almost makes readers feel pity for their situation. Then an all too detailed description of a brutal attack occurs and shifts the perspective all over again. It’s hard to feel pity for a creature that disembowels a person.