With his latest novel, author Alex Grecian is moving in a new direction with a new series, a new era and a new setting, Kansas. Another book that took place in that state, “The Wizard of Oz” has a famous line “Lions and tigers and bears. Oh my.” Replace that with “The Saint of Wolves and Butchers,” and readers have the title of this new book.
This intriguing story involves Travis, a man who chases down evildoers with help from his trusting companion, a dog named Bear, and a Kansas state trooper, Skottie, who join forces to track down a Nazi in hiding.
Grecian wanted to write more of a modern-day contemporary story than his past series, set in Victorian England.
“While driving through Western Kansas to visit my wife’s family, I saw a lot of ranch/farm country,” Grecian said. “Regardless of where I am, I look for angles I can use to write a story. I found out that German POWs captured in Africa were sent to Kansas. After the war, most of these people were allowed to become farmers and stayed here as authorities turned a blind eye. It occurred to me this would be a great place to hide if I ever committed a crime. Since Travis and company will hunt for evildoers, for the next book I would love to have Skottie, Bear and Travis searching for the bad guy behind the funding of the Nazi in this book who runs a human trafficking ring. I think I will set it in Alaska.”
The plot begins in 1951 when wanted war criminal Rudolph Bormann succeeds in making his way from South America to rural Kansas, where he begins a new life as Rudy Goodman. In the present, Travis Roan, the head of a family foundation devoted to bringing war criminals to justice, comes to Kansas after a report that the German was recognized by Ruth Elder, a concentration camp guard.
Aided by his canine companion, Bear, a massive dog, and another ally, Kansas State Trooper Skottie Foster, the search continues for this horrific figure who had performed medical research on unwilling victims. To make matters worse, Goodman decides to become a church pastor for a Nazi-type cult where he continues his cruel experimentation.
All the characters are either very likable or very unlikable. The character that stole all the scenes was Bear, a Tibetan mastiff who understands Esperanto and became mute after poachers cut off his vocal cords. He is brave, smart and loyal, where everyone except the antagonists have complete trust. Surprisingly, Elder was written as sympathetic considering she was forced into becoming a guard by the Nazi regime, after refusing to have sex with German military officers. The main character, Travis, is calm, intellectual, unfailingly polite and very moralistic.
Because Grecian wants this to be a series he plans on developing each character’s backstory as the books progress. “Travis keeps to himself so we do not know where he has been in the world and where he has come from. He is mysterious and I purposely did not say if he is Jewish. I do hint at the terrible tragedy he has gone through. As time goes on readers will find out more about him.”
An interesting aspect is that the Nazi was hit by lightning, not once, but twice while in Kansas and lived to talk about it. After being struck, people have their bodies affected in unexpected ways, such as a person’s hair and toenails will not grow back, and they can have hearing loss. Goodman used it to claim he could heal people because it gave him energy and insight. This for some could be the fantasy part of the book.
Grecian said he hopes readers also understand that guns are tools.
“This is why I put in the book quote, ‘These chunks of metal that were largely useless without a hand to point them,’” he said. “The evil comes from the person who uses it to their advantage. It is the person that needs to be blamed.”
Readers will yearn for the next book to see how Grecian flushes out the characters’ backstory, especially Travis Roan, whose mysteriousness is intriguing. Hopefully, this does become a series, because of the unique characters and storyline.