The twelfth Charlie Parker novel that John Connolly has intrigued, scared, and tortured us with since 1999, The Wolf in Winter delivers the powerful, supernatural punch that the other books have, combining elements of Scott Smith’s The Ruins with cultic small-town evil found in the works of Stephen King (think Haven), stirred to a froth by the characters Connolly has cultivated over those dozen books. Now, it’s a race to find a missing girl balanced against the ongoing vendetta between Parker’s crew and The Collector. Will there be enough time or will evil feed?
Both strains of the story have interesting developments. In the first, we’re shown how Parker is drawn into a quest to find a junkie daughter of an intentionally homeless loner, even while we explore the town of Prosperous, where the townspeople are joined in an awful Cabin in the Woods-type conspiracy. We know there are various shades of involvement in the town, but that the mystery will be unveiled because Parker is too dogged to give up. There’s a sense that we see Parker’s desire to pursue justice and stop evil, and his growing weariness with missing/mourning his murdered wife and daughter. Nuance already, right?
The pursuit of the Collector, primarily by Louis and Angel, Parker’s two partners-in-crime/justice, is exciting in its own right. There’s plenty to see here, and significant amounts of violence and intrigue, but it shows us the way that evil is categorized, layered, even relative. What Louis and Angel do is more Punisher than Batman, but it’s significant, and it puts them in harms way to keep others safe. Still, when the rubber hits the road, and Parker finds himself in over his head, it’s these two who provide the means of resolving the issue. Seriously, this is the time when it seems that there’s more than just a partnership; instead, this is family.
Connolly is one of four authors I must read every time (along with Lee Child, Brad Meltzer, and Harlan Coben), but he’s clearly the scariest. And yet, it’s that space between our world and the supernatural one that Connelly delves into, where big good and big evil battle, that makes for some of the most interesting stories. This is one of them, and you should be reading it.