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Wolf's Mouth Wolf's Mouth

John Smolens

Narrated by Clay Lomakayu

Available from Audible

Book published by Michigan State University Press

In 1944 Italian officer Captain Francesco Verdi is captured by Allied forces in North Africa and shipped to a POW camp in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where the senior POW, the ruthless Kommandant Vogel, demands that all prisoners adhere to his Nazi dictates. His life threatened, Verdi escapes from the camp and meets up with an American woman, Chiara Frangiapani, who helps him elude capture as they flee to the Lower Peninsula. By 1956 they have become Frank and Claire Green, a young married couple building a new life in postwar Detroit. When INS agent James Giannopoulos tracks them down, Frank learns that Vogel is executing men like Frank for their wartime transgressions. As a series of brutal murders rivets Detroit, Frank is caught between American justice and Nazi vengeance. In Wolf ’s Mouth, the recollections of Francesco Verdi/Frank Green give voice to the hopes, fears, and hard choices of a survivor as he strives to escape the ghosts of history.

John Smolens has published nine works of fiction, including Cold, Quarantine, and The Schoolmaster’s Daughter.


“In Wolf ’s Mouth, John Smolens delivers a thrilling story of good versus evil: part Upper Peninsula woods adventure, part rags-to-riches tale, part love story. It’s beautifully and thoughtfully written, and it’s bound to become part of Michigan’s folk history.”

—Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of Mothers, Tell Your Daughters and National Book Award finalist American Salvage

“Smolens’s Wolf’s Mouth starts with a steady idle, then revs up into high gear with memorable characters and a gripping narrative. Wherever Smolens takes us, from a WWII prisoner of war camp in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, to the streets of Detroit, to a courthouse in Berlin, he is a masterful guide and storyteller. In the skillful hands of an accomplished writer like Smolens, this sweeping, suspenseful tale becomes intimate and nuanced. Hold on to your hat, and hold on to your heart.”

—Jim Ray Daniels, author of Eight Mile High and winner of the Michigan Notable Book Award

“Armed with his trademark impressive research that illuminates the shadowy and oft-forgotten corners of history (the portrayal of a prisoner of war labor camp in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is particularly riveting); an array of well-drawn characters; spot-on dialogue; an examination of the recurring comfort of a good, familiar meal; and a wicked sense of humor, Smolens tells a quintessentially (and quintessentially quirky) American tale of love, displacement, migration, suspense, violence, and the ways in which a landscape can conspire to disappear the goodness we can only hope still lurks in the human heart.”

—Matthew Gavin Frank, author of Preparing the Ghost and The Mad Feast

“With Wolf’s Mouth, John Smolens skillfully expands the genre of the all-too-rare Michigan historical epic, opening his gripping tale in the World War II prison camps in the state’s Upper Peninsula. This is a powerful novel of imprisonment, escape, and ultimately redemption, its every page a visceral evocation of a past we should not forget.”

—Matt Bell, author of Scrapper

Wolf’s Mouth is an amazing accomplishment! John Smolens grabs his readers immediately with the little-known tale of a World War II prison camp as it was played out in the American north woods. Francesco Verdi/Frank Green is one of the strongest, most vivid characters you’ll find in a novel during this or any other year.”

—Keith Taylor, A. L. Becker Collegiate Lecturer in English at University of Michigan and author of If the World Becomes So Bright

All titles are published by:
University Press Audiobooks
an imprint of Redwood Audiobooks

University Press Audiobooks