THE WOLF STREAK
REVIEWER: RICHARD PROSCH
When I was in college, I had a friend who went bad like summer bananas. Nobody could stop him. A friendly, well-manner kid at first, he became an irritable, self-absorbed young adult. As more responsibility was expected of him, his pampered home life became more evident, and he started drinking. Really let himself go.
I stood by him for a long time. After most of our friends had relegated him to the trash heap, I tried to hang on to our friendship. It wasn’t altogether altruistic. In college, where the weekend option was drinking on the south dirt road, drinking on the north dirt road, or driving the streets drinking, my own ulterior motive was better the drunk you know than the one you don’t. But ultimately I could keep up with him.
That’s what happens with Lane Merrit and his half-brother Phil Harlan in Richard Brister’s 1958 Avon original, The Wolf Streak.
A half-breed wolf hunter, Lane’s a good guy who comes back to the family ranch a few years after his and Phil’s dad has passed away. Disinherited during his absence, Lane just wants to visit the old Crown Ranch. He finds his brother, Phil, his intended bride, Fay, and a tough hired hand named Rube.But see, Phil’s gone bad. Worse, he’s intent on continuing his downward spiral.
As so often happens in these pot-boilers, Phil tricked the old man into giving him the entire spread and cutting out Lane. Naturally, Lane finds out about the betrayal.
Like me with my old college chum, Lane tries to get along. Phil makes it impossible. Rube plays the thug, Lane hires a thug of his own. Phil turns people against Lane, Lane finds a new friend and ally on a small ranch called the Long Seven.
Through it all, Lane bends over backward to hang on to the relationship, hoping things will get better and that Phil will confess—Of course it comes to gunplay in the end.
What struck me most about The Wolf Streak is that plays out very much like a real life drama between two people who should care for each other, but no longer, can.