There is a simple formula that describes this book and it is this:
James Bond + werewolves + Nazis = AWESOME
If that isn’t enough for you, the book also features Hitler, a mad scientist, a henchman named Boots (so named because he kills people with his iron-cleated footwear) and the main character is the son of Rasputin. Sadly, Rasputin does not appear in the book and neither is he is a werewolf which are pretty much the only ways in which this book could have been improved.
Werewolf with a soul Michael Galladin is a British commando/spy who is given the jobs that ordinary men can’t accomplish, such as stealing vital plans for Rommel’s advance across North Africa. Alas, when he spends the night at the home of a wealthy and beautiful woman in Cairo he unwittingly unleashes the Bond Doom Cock on her and blames himself when she is assassinated in his place.
For the next three years he holes up in a remote part of Wales and takes no further part in the war, but the Allies have need of his rather unique skills once again. A spy in Paris has sent word about a dastardly Nazi plan that could ruin the upcoming D-Day landings and Galladin is the only man for the job. He reluctantly accepts the mission to make contact with the agent and to discover more about the Nazi plot named “Iron Fist”. Action, bad sex scenes and flashbacks ensue.
McGammon interweaves the main story in 1944 with Galladin’s backstory as Russian boy Mikhail Gallatinov, how he becomes a werewolf and learns to control his bestial side. Being a master lover as well as a master spy, Galladin invariably shags every woman he meets with some eye-wateringly lucid descriptions which are partly offset by graphic descriptions of his Russian werewolf pack slaughtering animals and men alike, as well as some more harrowing “present-day” scenes set in a Nazi concentration camp.
Alekza made good her promise to dry him off, using her tongue. She began at the south and crawled ever so slowly northward, licking dry his skin, slowly lapping the water that beaded on his shivering skin.
She came to his blood-gorged centre and there she displayed the true quality of an animal: the love of fresh meat. (p361)
From a critical point of view, The Wolf’s Hour is a mess. The prose is awful, with McCammon cramming all manner of wolf or animal related phrases whenever possible, often with unintentionally comic results (see quote above) and the narrative is occasionally confusing as it will merrily switch viewpoints mid-chapter and even mid-scene. And yet it tears along at a furious pace and out-Bonds Bond at times. The werewolves are just the icing on the cake.
The book was written over twenty years ago so I doubt it will happen now, but I’d love it if McCammon wrote a sequel to this book, possibly featuring Gallatin discovering a Nazi solar cannon project (mentioned in passing by Hitler at the end of the book) – Werewolf vs Nazis IN SPACE! I’d settle for werewolves versus ninjas (preferably set in Japan), or even simply werewolf ninjas – the possibilities are endless!