For Jake Marlowe, the last werewolf on Earth in this rollicking novel by Glen Duncan, the difference between werewolves and vampires is simple: "The vampire gets immortality, immense physical strength, hypnotic ability, the power of flight, psychic grandeur and emotional depth. The werewolf gets dyslexia and a permanent erection."
It's true that werewolves often pale in comparison. Vampires are paragons of romance and refinement, werewolves are embodiments of horror (An American Werewolf in London), camp (Teen Wolf) or, most recently, unintentionally hilarious sexual frustration (the Twilight movies). Unlike Twilight's sputtering Jacob, Jake is an unstoppable stud, and there's reason for his myriad conquests — relationships are just too dangerous. Upon turning wolf in 1842, he murdered and ate his beloved wife, Arabella.
Though Jake has spent the past 200 years looking for a book that would explain the origins of wolfdom to him, he has run out of steam and interest. The FBI of paranormal activity, the World Organization for the Control of Occult Phenomena (WOCOP), is on the hunt, determined to put a silver bullet in him and end the threat of werewolves forever. Jake is ready to throw in the towel, but a series of unfortunate events occur in which he is forced to fight his would-be killers. And as if the threat of WOCOP weren't enough, a group of vampires would like to use his blood as sunscreen.
The Last Werewolf is a steamy combination of James Bond and Stephenie Meyer's blockbuster neck-biting sagas. Instead of the unrelieved sexual tension of typical young adult paranormal romance, we get the action and overt sexuality of 007. Like Bond, Jake has sworn off romance because of the demise of his first love, which, of course, makes romance his Achilles' heel. Enter Talulla, a striking brunette he is magnetically drawn to at the airport. Jake describes her in a smirking reference to none other than Lolita: "Talulla, light of my life, fire of my loins." The bad news for Jake but good news for the reader is, she feels the connection, too.
Glen Duncan is the author of several novels, most notably I, Lucifer, in which the Devil is given a chance to live a human life as a struggling writer. Duncan's demons hark back to the classic tortured immortal seeking redemption. Like Dracula, Jake has acquired refined tastes over his very long life. "I was in Europe when Nietzsche and Darwin between them got rid of God, and in the United States when Wall Street reduced the American dream to a broken suitcase and a worn-out shoe." During a stint under house arrest, Jake entertains himself with "a 1607 Dutch-German edition of Ovid's Metamorphoses." And violent scenes are coupled with Jake's ruminations on the poetry of T.S. Eliot. He'd make a fine dinner guest — if you weren't the meal.
The rest of Duncan's supporting cast is also delightful: the hunter Granier and his albino sidekick, Ellis; the cougar Jacqueline Delon; and Cloquet, a fey henchman with a heart of gold. The cinematic sweep of the novel is undeniable — it's easy to picture the scruffy Hugh Jackman or Gerard Butler throwing back Jake's scotch and smoking his Camels. If the summer months have you aching for something addictive and fun, pick up The Last Werewolf. Paranormal romance was never just the domain of chaste teens with Robert Pattinson posters on their walls. We once again have a well-written novel for adults to prove it.