Title – The Wolf In Winter
Author – John Connolly
Source – Net Galley
“…The community of Prosperous, Maine, has always thrived when others have suffered. Its inhabitants are wealthy, its children’s future secure. It shuns outsiders. It guards its own. And at the heart of the Prosperous lie the ruins of an ancient church, transported stone by stone from England centuries earlier by the founders of the town…”
Charlie Parker, private detective, grieving father and husband, hunter of serial killers both human and not. Parker would probably never have heard of the community of Prosperous, Maine were it not for the plea for help from a homeless man he had once befriended. A homeless man whose daughter had gone missing and Parker knows all about losing a daughter. But before Parker can move toward Prosperous the homeless man is found hung, in a deserted basement, all by himself. The police rule it a suicide but Parker has to ask; why would a man kill himself when he was searching for a lost daughter?
Parker digs into the past of the community and the people who live there. Prosperous was built around the ancient stone church by a religious sect that fled the persecution that would not change their beliefs and be taken into the mainstream church. They worshiped something different from what the Church of England found acceptable.
“…Let me guess-you and Michael Warraner didn’t exactly see eye to eye on that subject.”
“No. He wasn’t hostile toward other forms of religious belief, merely uninterested.”
“When I see him again, should I pass on your good wishes?” I said.
“I’d prefer if you didn’t,” said Williamson.
“Wary. You should be too.” He was no longer distracted, no longer smiling. “One of the challenges I like to set my students for their first class is a word-association game. I ask them to list all the words, positive or negative, that come to mind when they think of “god.” Sometimes I get pages of words, at other times a handful, but Warraner was the only student who ever wrote just one solitary word. That word was “hunger.” He and those like him worship a hungry god, Mr. Parker, and no good can ever come of worshipping a deity that hungers. No good at all…”
The families of Prosperous belong to a hungry god and they feed it. That is how they maintain their good fortune. But Charlie Parker is coming and their is hell to pay for a dead father and a missing daughter. They haunt him as his own daughter does. The one he could not save. The child taken from him by the Traveling Man and his blade.
Twelve books into the series and there is no let up. John Connolly is a gifted writer whose prose crosses genres as easily as one would step over the chalked line on a baseball field. Charlie Parker is, in my opinion, his greatest character.
Parker is a dark and charismatic detective whose need to do good is only outweighed by his desire to wreak vengeance on those that do evil. Killers. Demons. Cults. All will fall under the gun of Parker. His ability to draw them to himself only makes his life bleaker. A tortured and murdered wife. A murdered daughter. Friends dead or bloodied. A second wife and daughter, a chance at a new life, leaving him for their own protection. All Parker has is the day to day. Another chance to save those who cannot save themselves and punish the others who would do them so much harm.
Connolly does not drive these novels with Parker alone, but with a cast of characters that would be worthy of their own novels. But what makes this series so good is the writing. The lyrical prose that holds you tightly and comfortably as the story unfolds around you.
“…Angel didn’t care about cool. His clothing was functional and unlabeled. He just preferred things that way. His gray hair was hidden beneath a black beanie. Without the cap, he looked his years. He was older than Louis and me, and had grown quieter and more cautious in recent time. Mortality shadowed him like a falcon mantling its wings over dying prey…”
That. Everyone. Is what is known as good fucking writing. In another passage, Connolly describes Parker perfectly.
“…I don’t think he’s afraid of dying,” said Morland. “He doesn’t seek out death, and he’ll fight it until the end, but he’s not frightened of it. I think he’s in pain. He’s been damaged by loss, and it’s left him in agony. When death does come for him, it’ll end his pain. Until then, nothing that anyone can visit on him will be worse than what’s he’s already experienced. That makes him a formidable enemy…”
The Charlie Parker series by John Connolly is one of the best ongoing novels to be found and it doesn’t look like its going to end soon. Another very good read by Connolly.