|US 1st edition (Dodd Mead, 1963)|
The title Deliver Us from Wolves is the English translation of the Latin phrase "Libera nos a lupis" which keeps cropping up in the oddest places during Father Bredder's brief but very strange stay in Portugal. He first encounters it on a strange claw shaped stone sold to him in a tourist shop filled with tacky souvenirs depicting the image of the Virgin of Fatima on everything from handkerchiefs to kaleidoscopes. The stone turns out to be a talisman and the shopkeeper tells him of the legend of the werewolf that hangs over their town. When Father Bredder visits the Bishop of Leiria he learns even more about the legend of Pedro da Malveira who seems to have once again risen from his grave.
|US paperback (Dell 1887, 1966)|
Our priest detective undergoes a crash course in the Portuguese culture and the reader learns with him a lot about Portuguese history and the odd variations of how the werewolf legend is incorporated into their culture. Father Bredder meets Father Painter, a British priest sent to the local parish, who has not been living up to his calling. Church attendance is down and the English priest is apparently is not well liked by the townspeople. In a series of didactic scenes he lectures Father Bredder on the architecture of Portuguese castles, the history of the trial of Pedro Da Malveira, and the local werewolf superstitions. The most interesting aspect of Portuguese lobishomen is the melding of vampire and zombie lore into the werewolf myth. Some of more bizarre features include: the lobishomen has an enlarged big toe, he must return to his grave by daybreak, and he must seek out a new human form by killing a living human in order to make his transformation complete.
Father Bredder is convinced that someone is taking advantage of the lobishomen legend and the story of Pedro da Malveira to cover up some other type of criminal activity. His personal knowledge of his life as a former Marine and the training of attack dogs in his service come into play and help him as a detective in this "busman's holiday" type of book. The detection, however, is limited as the book takes on more of a superntural/adventure thriller with lots of action sequences taking the place of scenes of detective skills.
|Iberian Wolf (photo: Terry Whittaker)|
Deliver Us from Wolves is the fourth book in a series of eleven adventures with Father Bredder. Most of the books are set in Los Angeles where the priest is the parish leader at a convent school. In some of them he travels outside of California, but I believe it is only in this book where he leaves the United States. I learned an awful lot about werewolves, Portuguese culture and religion, Portuguese fortress building (to already build on what I knew from reading Shelley Smith's This Is the House) and the existence of the Iberian wolf, a species of wolf smaller than the North American gray wolf and geographically confined to Portugal and southern Spain. Reading this very unusual and highly entertaining mystery -- oh yes, there's a murder and several other crimes to solve within its pages -- has been the most immersive learning experience in a foreign culture that I've had this year without ever stepping out of my comfortable couch at home.