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Welcome to the eerie town of Prosperous and a much more ordinary Charlie Parker.
on 18 April 2014
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.