Crime Thriller Book Review & Verse Analysis- Sharp Teeth


A novel is written in free verse? This is crazy. This is cool. This is unique, and bravely audacious for a novelist to write a fiction story in free verse poetry form. I’m honestly in awe of Toby Barlow’s Sharp Teeth.

This is the first time I read a novel written in free verse and I didn’t expect it would appear creative and deep. If you’re a literary lover you would find the writing style of Toby Barlow here in sharp teeth insanely cool.

Sharp Teeth is written in free verse and isn’t just a gimmick but this is an artistic attempt at literary expression. Sharp Teeth story presented in the verse is quite a good verse. It moves, shimmers, and sings. It successfully depicts the frustrated ecstasy of necessary violence, the life-embracing, and the real meaning of true love.

Free Verse is a literary device that is freer of limitation than poetry. So, basically, a novel written in free verse form such as Sharp Teeth is expected to contain more poetic language. Usually, this kind of writing style is appealing to poetry lovers and is sometimes difficult to decipher, thus each line needs to be analyzed about what the writer wants to imply.

Read More Werewolf Novel As Sharp Teeth

But with Sharp Teeth, although this is written in free verse yet I find this artistic more than difficult to figure out. Also, the free verse writing style puts more emotions which adds charm to the storytelling.

Part 1: The Plot of Sharp Teeth

Sharp Teeth Story

Sharp Teeth revolves around a jobless man named Anthony a Latino resident in East L.A. Eventually, Anthony finds work as a dogcatcher, which triggers painful memories from his youth and connects him to a network of terrible incidents, including drug dealing, dogfighting, homelessness, true love, and, of course, enough werewolves to staff the mead bar at an international D&D convention.

Here in Sharp Teeth, a survivor ancient race of lycanthropes was introduced to us, as what has been said in the premise, but Sharp Teeth comes with a different werewolf system.

Here the werewolves aren’t affected by the moon. They can transform in their own will. They live in a secret pack in the means of a street gang, mob, or cult and are responsible for organized crimes.

The way Barlow tells the story, we could hint that the werewolves mentioned in Sharp Teeth are more like master criminals alluded to being dogs, canines living in tribes, and killing and dominating the entire Los Angeles.

I like how Barlow depicts the “dog eats dog” kind of world, here in Sharp Teeth, the power struggles concerning the food chain, and how all these are alluded to werewolves and to humans. That was such an intelligent way of storytelling with an attempt to bare the ugly face of human society.

Part 2: Interesting Characters of Sharp Teeth

Sharp Teeth Characters Crime Thriller

Anthony Silvo

Anthony is the main protagonist of Sharp Teeth. He is a dog catcher and a loner who finds himself in love with a mysterious woman. In the opening chapter of Sharp Teeth, Anthony is described as a jobless brown-skinned man, thin and looking for a job that after several rejections he finally landed as a dog catcher.

The job itself reminds him of his childhood, and the bittersweet memories he had with his father. Overall at first, we are given a fragile protagonist here in Sharp Teeth, and such crafting of his personality makes me eager to see how Anthony will evolve as the story forwards.


He is the leader of the pack of werewolves that lurk among the “toothless” and contend with a few other packs for wayward souls.

Lance of Sharp Teeth is a strategist who plans for the long term, organizes business ventures and security details, and tries to increase the strength and security of his team, while infiltrating his rivals’ organizations, very much like a mob boss who aggressively defends his pack against while attempting to avoid catching the attention of the police.


While Peabody is a detective in Sharp Teeth who has been disturbed by the savage mysterious killing going on around L.A. He investigates several dog-related murders until he drives deep into organized crimes and drug trades.

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Part 3: Analyzing Beautiful Verse Excerpt From Sharp Teeth

Sharp Teeth Famous Verse Wolf Pack

“Imagine, sleeping with the pack, the safety, the loyalty, the protection. Imagine the elemental comfort.”

I love how the werewolf pack system is described in this part. I have read lots of werewolf books but never had I encountered such a creative depiction of the pack system as how it is in Sharp Teeth.

Here in this part, we are given something to be puzzled at such as what Barlow is really referring to here. Could it be a real pack of werewolves? Or are humans living like wolves? But whatever it is one thing is certain these packs live together for the collective benefits they are getting.

“Her appetite has become tremendous in every way they make love in the kitchen, the living room, and she eats huge plates of pasta.”

This verse is a passionate allusion. Here in this part of Sharp Teeth, the author was great in showing an intimate scene and relating it to literal hunger. This is smart storytelling, wherein looking deep we could see that this scene is depicting sex yet we could tell not just of the character’s hunger for food, but for love as well.

“Knowing someone isn’t coming back doesn’t mean you ever stop waiting.”

If you’re a fan of free verse you will surely love this line. This is beautiful. This is deep. And this is painful. In this verse of Sharp Teeth, we could sense an immense loneliness in the character. I won’t spoil what happens, but reading this line I could tell Sharp Teeth blew me away.

Sharp Teeth Famous Verse Forbidden Love

“But when he held her, dancing, everything felt good but not everything felt right.”

Reading this I could say that loneliness is the heart of Sharp Teeth, and though this book is stirring different emotions in me, I couldn’t put this down. In this part, we could see the complicated relationship the protagonist has with his girl. Looking closer at this verse we could tell that their relationship is somewhat forbidden.

The love was sure but the situation is not. Knowing Anthony’s complicated life, plus the job that caught him in between the world of criminals, and the girl’s mysterious identity, loving at this moment or diving into a relationship isn’t easy both for Anthony and the mysterious girl.

Part 4: Review and Conclusion of Sharp Teeth

Sharp Teeth Book Cover

This book, Sharp Teeth is perfect for poetry fans but even though you aren’t this book will still be a good read because its plot is indeed nice. Sharp Teeth proves to be a unique example of a Crime Thriller book.

The verses here are masterfully written. The plot, the characters, and the world-building are captivating. No wonder this book Sharp Teeth won an award in the year 2009 as the best adult genre.

Moreover, I love Sharp Teeth for the reason that this exposes a kind of social order which I think is relatable to humans. Sharp Teeth resonates with the reality of human society.

The violence, lycanthropic civilization, power struggles, the competition in the food chain, and Anthony’s story which take place against a backdrop of drug use, murder, and revenge, all these Sharp Teeth are dark, touching and compelling.

Read More Werewolf Novel As Sharp Teeth

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At Dreame, Stevenson has always been a lover for all kinds of novels with unique appetite for the female characters and their storylines. Boasting the experience as a former editor cooperating with millions of best-seller authors, he knows the most important factors in a novel that attract a specific audience group. He now is devoted in the review of prevailing novels and movies from all sources, selects the best ones, and gives his thoughts to help more people to find their suitable novels or movies quickly.


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