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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Twelfth in the Charlie Parker series and certainly different from the previous eleven. If you haven't read the other novels don't worry too much. 'The Wolf in Winter' works well as a stand alone, one off, with any ties connecting the plot to the rest of the series sufficiently well explained.

I am surprised!. John Connolly has stripped away much of Parker's original personality and he has become quite changed. Gone is the trademark surreal, mega violent PI and in has walked a much older, thoughtful, intelligent man. The Charlie Parker I know shows up from time to time, not until the latter half of the novel, but until then he's almost a guest in his own story and remains in the shadows.

As for the villains, well, they're an odd bunch but a long way from the demonically vile creatures who usually stalk Parker's world.

So what's going on?. I suppose Parker has to make the transformation from rage fuelled young man into an older, experienced character if he's going to remain believable.

With Charlie Parker remaining in the background John Connolly has created a new lead character. Not what you might expect. The star of 'A Wolf in Winter' is a small, overlooked and decidedly eerie town named Prosperous. What Connolly fails to deliver through Parker he makes up for with his slow, meticulous creation of Prosperous. The place comes to life and there's some great scene setting threaded through with eerie horror and supernatural elements. In Prosperous secrets aren't the only things struggling to remain buried. What is that creature over there and why is it digging?.

I particularly enjoyed the themes around the ancient church of Prosperous. Is that a place really fit for worship?. Don't look too closely!.

Once Parker becomes fully involved in the investigation the plot takes a more usual journey and the action picks up. There's the usual fraught phone calls to Rachel and the uncertainty around having a child living so far away. Nice little snippets of information come and go which reflect Parker's ability to feel emotion and help the reader bond with him and yes; Louis and Angel are still by his side though also somewhat transformed.

In parts 'The Wolf in Winter' is a brilliant read but; for the first time in the series I struggled to get into the story. I wasn't hooked until about a quarter of the way through and then found myself drifting out of the plot only to be yanked back in when Mr Connolly began to hit his stride. This novel is much more about creating a sense of mystery and a solid story structure than showcasing Parker and his buddies, particularly in the first half, and I hadn't anticipated the change.

Is it worth reading?. Absolutely yes. I'm a fan of Mr Connolly and Charlie Parker has been my favourite fictional character for too long but; I wouldn't be truthful if I told you 'The Wolf in Winter' is the best book in the series. In my own personal opinion it's not. That fantastically surreal landscape of nightmare characters and haunting visions that have for so long been Charlie Parker's world have almost disappeared. I missed them.
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on 11 April 2014
I always await the release of the latest addition to the Charlie Parker story with a mix of anticipation and worry, so no difference this time round, Anticipation because it is now far and away my favourite continuous series, and worry because I can never quite bring myself to believe that John Connolly will be able to sustain the magic; we are 12 books into this series now for crying out loud! Where my biggest fears stem from is that in my opinion, and uniquely amongst writers of continuous series like these, John Connolly peaked with his first offering in the series. Every Dead Thing is an epic piece of writing, it's scale and beauty unparalleled in modern literature, so how can a writer fail to disappoint with everything that he produces in its wake? I have no idea how, but disappoint he does not. I have given this review, as with most of his books a five star rating, yes it really is that good, but to put this in context I would give Every Dead Thing a six (or a seven). I am glad that this book keeps up the sense of menace and threat which has been growing of late, and cranks this up another notch, as this suggests to me that we are nearing a conclusion of sorts, a final showdown between Charlie and the now more visible backers, akthough where I will get my fix from when this series ultimately ends I do not know. We get a real sense that Parker and his protectors are ageing, that they now sense their own mortality more acutely, and the unholy trinity of Parker, Louis and Angel are becoming more philosophical (though no less lethal). I am glad that the uncomfortably symbiotic relationship between Parker and the Collector looks to be restored, as I was worried about the loss of this following the ending of The Wraith of Angels (and even more so after the first few pages of this story), and there are some nice touches for some of the more peripheral characters (closure of sorts for Ronald Straydeer), as the clever interweaving of these characters has always been a strength of this series for me. Like with any series I can't help but enjoy some of the books more than others, and in my personal pecking order this has instantl elevated itself to third place after just one reading, I will be reading it again more slowly very soon, and this shows me just how strong this series continues to be. I always find it hard to write reviews without dropping clumsy spoilers, I apologise for the minor spoilers in this, so to finish this I will just state my honest opinion that this is a fantastic read, well up to John Connolly's usual (extremely) high standards, and I am craving my next fix already. As with any series don't start with this book, you will be denying yourself the chance of a fantastic back story, go back to Every Dead Thing and find out what makes Charlie Parker tick, if you are a John Connolly fan and have not bought/read this yet, what are you waiting for? Take my advice though and book a day off work, or start it on a weekend, or you'll be up until stupid o'clock finishing it like I was. Outstanding.
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Thank you kindly to Ellie Cheele for arranging the copy via Netgalley. You are now one of my favourite people!

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 has been marked to die so that Prosperous may survive.

First things first – if you have not yet started this series then LOOK AWAY NOW there may be minor spoilers ahead for previous novels (very minor but still!) and also – on top of that – if you HAVENT read them then why the heck not? Off you go. Every Dead Thing is where you start..

So we come to “The Wolf in Winter”. At the end of the previous book the murky relationship between Charlie and The Collector hit dangerous territory..and life for all my favourite characters was about to get more interesting. And deadly. As we open, the aftershocks of previous events resonate and thats before our Mr Parker comes to the notice of the inhabitants of a town called Prosperous…

I find these books quite difficult to review if I’m honest. When I review Stephen King I often want to shout “JUST READ IT its brilliant what else do you need to know?” And I could easily apply that to all the works of Mr Connolly, most especially this particular series. And this instalment has left me traumatised, desperate for more, completely out of breath and absolutely in awe. Of the writing, of the depth of the mythology he has created here, at the sheer stunning emotional resonance of the people that inhabit that world. I have rarely come across such depth of character – so deep that you really do feel you know them all. I often have the feeling, that should somebody evil do something nasty to me, that Charlie, Louis and Angel would track them to the ends of the earth. That is how real they become during the reading…

Prosperous is a scary place indeed. And once more Charlie and co will encounter the worst that the world has to offer and will not look away. It may be my favourite one yet for pure adrenalin rush – but to get into the plot too deeply is to spoil it indeed and I’m not going to do that. And some of you have a long way to go before you get here..

The supernatural elements aside, there is always more to these than meets the eye, they are terrifically well constructed novels that MUST be read in order to fully appreciate the Russian Doll quality of the the progression…one piece of information leading to the next, past acts echoing through present events..and always right at the heart and soul of it sits Private Detective Charlie Parker. Both his light and his darkness, his morality and his struggle with it. A truly amazing creation surrounded by other truly amazing creations, all making up a truly magnificent reading experience.

I have always said that Stephen King is the best writer out there (for me) and I tag myself as a SK fanatic. Because I am. The Wolf in Winter however means that I am now, officially, a John Connolly fanatic also. No doubt. Does he have an end game in mind for Mr Parker? I don’t want to know lest it destroy me…

Read it. Live it. Love it.
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on 24 June 2014
I was a big Charlie Parker fan but there's no doubt these books are going off the boil. I don't think any character can survive twelve books without developing quite radically and nothing's happened for about four books now except Sam's not a baby any more. Also she's doing that enigmatic-small-child-who-has-wisdom-beyond-her-years-thing, which is just irritating.

On the face of it there does seem to be evidence that Charlie might be changed by the next book, but it had better be damn good. What happened to him being a fallen angel constantly being reborn as penance? Great storyline but it just fizzled to nothing. Have the Backers been mentioned before, or Campion? I can't remember which isn't a good sign.

I was really disappointed with the ending of this story. What exactly was the thing in the ground? I'm assuming it was a malevolent pagan earth spirit which fed on blood spilt violently, but why did it only seem to need to be fed every few decades or so and how did it know which people to protect?Where did it come from? Did the Familists bring it over with them from England,did they just stumble on it by accident in the New World, or did they conjure it with magical spells? How did it get killed off so easily? Why did it let the wolf have the deer? What was the purpose of the wolf anyway, and Ronald and the tragic story of Elsa? I started to put my English teacher hat on and tried to see parallels with the canine imagery, loss, betrayal etc, then remembered that I read these books for escapism and pleasure and if I have to start searching for metaphors and themes then it's stopped being fun to read and is just more work.

I think it's time for Charlie to take the Long Ride.
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on 2 September 2014
Up to page 326 this was going to be 5 stars. Then you realise that there are not enough pages to do justice for the fantastic array of characters and conspiracies that have been introduced. And so it is that plot points are forgotten ( the letter to Hayley), characters vanish (Euclid), expected interesting confrontations do not occur and although this story features a conspiracy that is closest in nature to the one in the BIG story arc , even the conspirators do not seem interested. Very rushed ending with a lot of action occurring off stage or in the space of a paragraph when it demanded a chapter. Disappointing. As Angel or is it Louis who says 'Sometimes I wish I had never met Charley Parker'. The long time fan may agree after finishing this novel. However I will be here for the next one as Connolly has produced a unique Protagonist with a complex and intriguing universe. Plus by the last comment in the acknowledgements he is obviously a Mark Kermode fan , unless he us hinting at his preferred actor for the CP role.
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on 5 February 2017
This author never fails to produce a plot which holds the reader's attention and interest from first to last page and this book is no exception. Excellent characters, well written, and the added spice of the supernatural. Well worth five stars.

AnOn
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on 20 April 2014
I'm in two minds about this, I do love my Charlie Parker books, they are amongst the best on the market, but this one just seems to be missing a certain something. To be fair, it's still better than 95% of stuff on the market, but it feels to me more like a place holder. There's a few loose strings tied up, which seems to be incidental to the main story, which gives me the impression that this is a clearing of the decks. I'm wondering if this is the start of something new, a new chapter for Parker, hence the loose ends being tied up.

The ending in particular is disappointing. There's a slow build up to what should be a climatic finale, which, to be honest, goes like a damp squib, it's too rushed, and too anti-climatic.

Saying that, there's still flashes of the old brilliance, Angel and Louis are on top form, and there's times Parker shows just how he's changed, and matured over the series.

not the best book of the series, but hopefully, a prequel to something new starting up for Charlie
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on 30 March 2015
I borrowed my first Charlie Parker book (out of sequence) from my local library. Right away I had to go back to the beginning and have also since read every other John Connolly book I can get my hands on, legally or nefariously.
I like to believe I am an author having written two books so far, but every time I read a John Connolly I recognise my limitations and decide never to put pen to paper again. Unfortunately for anyone who has picked up my inane drivel, I forget over time.
The throw away lines of realistic dialogue describe the characters in ways that paragraphs of detail couldn't. They are both believable and likeable, which is difficult to achieve when the 'heroes' are all so flawed.
I love the darkness, the 'otherworldliness' of the storylines and the innate morality of those who constantly battle, each from their own quarter, though frequently crossing paths.
I love how John shows his awe of Maine, it's nature, its people, it's flaws. I love how he uses its history, how he researches for possibilities to exploit for his own dark deeds, how he shows his appreciation of the ability of the land and its people to survive constant hardship over the centuries.
This particular novel shows the claustrophobic nature of the incestuousness of a small town with a dark secret and the lengths it will go to to keep them. It brings in several of our regular offenders, the delicious Louis and scruffy Angel, with many a walk on part from old favourites and a few uncertain collaborations.
As always with John Connolly, and specifically with Charlie Parker, I am left bereft at the last page.
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on 14 April 2014
Having recently read at least three boring British based police books , this one
was a breath of fresh air.
For those who have read some of his work , Angel and Louis are up to their usual
( good works ) and Charlie not so much.
As is standard for Connolly , an unusual story line , excellently written .
Five stars without a doubt !
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on 18 April 2014
John Connolly somehow manages to combine an eloquent and at times almost classical literary style with sinister Poe-esque overtones, a noir turn of phrase, graphic imagery, punchy humour and rollercoaster plots. A truly talented guy.

Parker is unsurpassed as a lead character; I can't recall any better in modern popular fiction. Maybe Parlabane runs him close but that's about it. And of course the ever enlarging cast of characters - moral, immoral, amoral and all shades in between - enables multiple layers and threads within each novel.

As regards the Wolf in Winter, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Couldn't put it down. And had it been my first Connolly, it would have been a 5* job. However, in common with some of the later books, I felt it was a less challenging read than perhaps The Black Angel or Every Dead Thing. Hence 4*. The ending was a bit rushed, possibly more 'by the numbers' than the usual Connolly, and the supernatural theme in this case wasn't as believable as in some previous novels.

For future books, I would dearly love Connolly to expand on The Believers theme, particularly providing more detail on the fundamental nature of Parker. However, The Collector is an excellent supporting character, as are Angel and Louis - as much for comedic value as violent effect.
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