Inger Ash Wolfe is the pseudonym of the author Michael Redhill. Redhill is a Canadian playwright and poet, as well as a novelist. He was born in the US (Baltimore, Maryland to be precise) in 1966 , however he was raised in Toronto. He studied at Indiana, New York, and Toronto universities and worked for both Coach House Press and Brick (a Canadian literary journal).
Redhill published his plays and poetry under his own name, however the fact that he had been using Inger Ash Wolfe as a pseudonym was kept under wraps until 2012. In this year, Redhill revealed that he had published three novels as well as the plays, novels and poetry that were already publicly known to be his. Furthermore, he revealed that he had published these novels under the name Inger Ash Wolfe.
The first of the novels published by Inger Ash Wolfe is called ‘The Calling’. This novel was published in Toronto in 2008 and it is a crime thriller. The plot is a gruesome and suspenseful one, as it traces the hunt for a serial killer who has been choosing his victims from an online forum for terminally ill patients. When detectives examine the faces of the victims in the sequence in which they were killed, they find that their mouths have been positioned in order to spell out the word ‘Libera': a significant clue.
As the detectives discover after consulting with a priest who is a Latin expert, ‘Libera’ is a resurrection prayer which is thought to have the power to raise the dead. This is one of the first clues that helps the detectives to start to understand the serial killer’s state of mind, and his motives for killing.
In 2014, ‘The Calling’ was turned into a film, starring Susan Sarandon as the detective inspector Hazel Micallef, and Topher Grace as her deputy. Other stars include Ellen Burstyn and Donald Sutherland. The film was generally popular and well received, especially in Canada (not surprising, as it was based on a Canadian novel, and mainly shot in the Ontario area, giving it a strong local theme). In the year of its release, it was rated number 3 in Xfinity’s list of the top independent and theatrical films of that year.
Inger Ash Wolfe’s next novel was entitled ‘The Taken’, and it was published in 2009. This novel also has Hazel Micallef as a central character, and follows her quest to solve a suspenseful murder case, this time involving a body that was found in a lake in Ontario. In this book, readers get to know more about Micallef’s personal life, and one particular sub plot sees her being looked after by her ex husband and his (new) wife after suffering an injury to her back.
As in ‘The Calling’, Micallef is depicted as a prickly character, but someone who is smart and dedicated to her job. Like ‘The Calling’, ‘The Taken’ plunges Micallef into some dangerous situations, particularly as she gets closer and closer to the twisted killer whom she is hunting. Readers are left on the edges of their seats as they wait to see if she will make it through alive and unscathed.
What makes ‘The Taken’ particularly uncanny and creepy is the fact that a story is printed in the local newspaper around the time of the murder. This story has many similar details to the murder itself, leading Micallef to set off on a hunt for the author – are the author and the killer one and the same? The reader is left wondering this, and the suspense builds when Micallef finds that tracking down the author of the story is more difficult than it first seemed.
‘The Taken’ was also made into a film, very soon after it was first published and indeed in the very same year (2009). This film made a smaller splash than ‘The Calling’, but it certainly gave plenty for diehard Micallef fans to enjoy.
The third book in the series also deals with the interplay between Micallef’s work and home life. This time, it watches her dealing with her ageing mother as she tries to crack a case involving victims who appear to have been stung to death by insects but who in actual fact have been chillingly murdered.
This book is sometimes considered to be Ash Wolfe’s most psychological work, and it delves deep not only into the mind of another Canadian fictional serial killer, but also probes the thoughts and emotions of the detective who is hunting him. Again, Micallef faces a race against time: trying to catch the killer before he kills again.
This race against time is a theme that unifies all three books in Inger Ash Wolfe’s Hazel Milcallef series. It is perhaps one of the reasons why Ash Wolfe’s writing lends itself so well to cinema, and also why so many readers find themselves hooked on these books, eager to get to the end and find out what happens in the plot!
Awards and Accolades
As mentioned above, when Redhill revealed that he had been writing under the pen-name Inger Ash Wolfe, Ash Wolfe already had three novels under his belt. As well as ‘The Calling’ and ‘The Taken’, the third novel that Redhill was referring to was ‘A Door in the River’. This last mentioned book was first published in 2012, the same year of the big revelation.
Michael Redhill has also published several novels under his own name, and their titles include ‘Consolation’ and ‘Martin Sloane’. The latter has won several awards, including the Books in Canada First Novel Award and a Commonwealth Writers Prize.
One interesting little fact, moreover, is that when writing under the name of Inger Ash Wolfe, Redhill used a different publisher. When he published novels under his own name, he used Doubleday Canada as a publisher, and this publishing firm is based in Toronto. When writing as Inger Ash Wolfe, however, he published his novels with McClelland and Stewart, another Toronto based publishing house.
Readers might wonder whether Redhill’s publishers knew that he was also writing as Wolfe. And, vice versa, did Inger Ash Wolfe’s publishers know that they were in fact dealing with the well known author and playwright Michael Redhill?Book Series In Order » Authors » Inger Ash Wolfe