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TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 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.
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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 25 August 2015
John Connolly is a brilliant author and with his creation Charlie Parker has produced one of the most complete series of books ever published. This is the 12th outing for our great hero/ private detective and in this taut tale he is drawn to the town or Prosperous in an attempt to find what really happened to Annie Broyer. Annie’s estranged father Jude, living on the streets, has amassed the princely sum of $100+ that he hoped would entice the detective to help him....in Charlie’s own words that might have bought some 2 hours of this time. When however Jude is discovered dead, an apparent suicide, our hero knows that he must help discover the truth behind the mysterious disappearance of Annie.

There is a solid and memorable list of characters that we meet as we travel with Charlie on his journey which is fraught with danger and in particular the evil Hayley Conyer the “voice” of Prosperous , her chief of police Morland who is no stranger to killing, and the wonderfully named Ronald Straydeer. If you add in the old favourites of Louis and Angel we have all the ingredients for a cracking story!

It is however the tormented mind of Charlie Parker that always holds the reader’s interest and never fails to draw me back. He is tortured by the death of his wife Rachel and in particular his daughter Samantha who appears to him throughout and always give the impression that she is calling him home. I don’t feel that CP will ever find peace and contentment until he can be with them again....wherever that may be...So once again Connolly has produced a masterpiece of crime combined with just the right amount of dark horror to entice the reader to return for the next instalment. Anything by John Connolly comes highly recommended and this is no exception...
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on 8 February 2016
12th in the Charlie Parker series, I enjoyed this book, not as much as the others to begin with but I still enjoyed it.

I have to admit, I struggled at first to really get into this book, I don't know why, just struggled to get to grips with the slightly different angle compared to previous books by John Connolly. Having said that, I am glad that I stuck with it as it got better and better. Characters and organisations introduced in previous books in the series were expanded upon in a fantastic way, some great twists to the plot.

The main characters are all there, with Angel and Louis forming something of an uneasy alliance with a previous "enemy". Light seems to draw upon the reason Parker is here/there for one character. There is also something of a cameo for Parkers dead wife and child who make more of an appearance than in many of the late novels.

Having read all of the series, I am now looking forward to the next in the series "A song of Shadows" and then the yet to be released "A Time for Torment". Just wondering where this great series will take us all next...
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on 5 May 2015
Sometimes the benefits of a long running series are that when its beats and shuffles become familiar, the author is able to yank the rug from under the reader to truly epic effect. Such is the case here. The story starts out playing all of the familiar Charlie Parker riffs – a mystery falls into the detective’s lap in which society’s most vulnerable are the victims of a lethal conspiracy with supernatural underpinnings, and he proceeds to put himself in front of all the wrong people for the right reasons – and then two thirds of the way through the book... it would be criminal for me to be specific, but the ordinary thrust of the mystery is derailed with ferocious and almost random savagery, and the implications are neither brushed under the carpet nor easily reversed. It’s a breathtaking move on the part of the author, and I can’t wait to see how it carries forward into the next volume. Other pleasing aspects include the most Lovecraftian scene yet to feature in one of these books, which more often allude to the supernatural than fully embrace it, and the late (and necessary) engagement of the supporting cast to bring matters to a close. This book feels like a watershed moment in the Parker series, and suggests that some sort of endgame may be in sight to which everything has built. Thrilling, haunting, and splendidly bleak stuff.
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VINE VOICEon 9 October 2014
The last but one in the Charlie Parker series - so far - and as ever we have Charlie facing his demons, still in the depths of the Maine woods, a sombre place at the best of times. For Charlie and his few friends these are not the best of times.

A strange cult-like group lives in a dour, old village called Prosperous in the midst of which are the ruins of an ancient church, featuring, as it does, the a means to centralize the locals during their strange and obbsessive devotion to the cause - that cause being the security, safety and removal of people they don't want. It is this last part which brings Charlie to Prosperous.

They wish he hadn't come, he wishes to destroy these people and, as the book unfolds, we realize that vengeance is playing a hand for Charlie, too. His old foes are back, too, so there is plenty of action thoughout this book. This is always expertly written, no crash, bang, wallop, just getting on with the business to deal with his enemy.

All-in-all, an excellent thriller, as it it ever couldn't be!
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on 4 May 2014
Like many of the reviewers of this book, I'm a long-term fan of John Connolly, ever since reading "The Black Angel" in 2005. Few other thriller writers write such attractive prose or conjure up the kind of sinister atmosphere he does. (I believe he once admitted liking the work of James Lee Burke - and I have found him also to be a very powerful writer.) I also believe he does not lay out his plots precisely in advance, preferring to write in a more spontaneous way: this can lead to repetitive scenes and even weak endings. He also has a tendency to ignore Occam's advice and to multiply things "praeter necessitatem": this can lead to a slightly annoying proliferation of characters whose functions overlap: the Fulci brothers, for instance, or the plethora of super-villains with preternatural powers.

Other reviewers have drawn attention to the somewhat clumsy way the narrative is presented here: a good deal of first-person narrative is mixed with the more conventional third-person point-of-view. I do not feel that combining the two methods is beneficial to the presentation of the story. Using first-person narrative but changing the narrator from time to time would be far more effective - though I speak as a reader rather than even a semi-competent writer. The central theme of the book, which centres on a sinister town in the author's beloved Maine, seems to me to owe a lot to H. P. Lovecraft and his descriptions of eerie locations in New England. Despite the research put into the historical and religious background, I found this aspect of the story to lack credibility even for this genre of fiction.

Despite these reservations, I would never miss a new Charlie Parker story: compared to the offerings of other thriller writers, John Connolly's are like a breath of fresh air - or should that be a chilling wind from the depths of the Maine woods.
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on 21 April 2014
Number 12 in the series and I have to say, in my opinion, one of the best.

Surprisingly Mr Parker sort of takes a back seat in this story as it revolves around a town called Prosperous. It's a town with its own way of doing things and its own rules. It's steeped in history and mystery but none of it is good, even if you are part of that history.

Everything that goes on there is connected to Charlie and it all kicks off big style with old favourites Louis and Angel playing a bigger part than in the last couple of books. Without giving too much away a homeless man in Charlie's home town is found hanging but Charlie doesn't believe it was suicide and all roads lead to Prosperous.

As normal it is full of mystery, supernatural, hard hitting topics and the inevitable humour with Louis and Angel.

If you love John Connolly's writing you will love this book. Only thing that's missing is the 10 stars button.
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on 23 April 2014
As John Connolly's unhappy private detective returns for a 12th book, my fears for an impending end to Maine's finest just increase with every book because I know it can't go on forever. The seeming suicide of a homeless man and the disappearance of his daughter leads Parker to investigate the insular and, er... prosperous town of Prosperous.

As we've come to expect, there's way more to this than meets the eye. Connolly's ability to convey menace and fear remain undimmed and I've always really liked how he picks up and drops certain themes throughout the series (like the Believers) as he encounters different cases. His long-time sidekicks Angel and Louis feature heavily in this book too, with the level of violence which usually accompany them. It's hard (I think) to do a 'good' novel which incorporates the supernatural without it being a bit naff but Connolly makes the weird somehow seem perfectly normal.

I've been hooked on the Parker series since I read The Unquiet, shortly followed by every other Parker book and The Wolf in Winter is a perfect addition to it. A word to the wise (if it's not too late by this time) - I'd avoid the Amazon reviews of this until you've read it as too many idiots seem to be posting spoilers.
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on 26 April 2014
Even though Charlie Parker, Angel, Louis et al appear in this book. They are only on the periphery of the story. This is the story of Prosperous, a town and it's people. JC has taken the story of an English Cult and extrapolated it to Maine. Having been brought up on these stories as a child, it wasn't new to me and it was like meeting an old friend unexpectedly.
Having said that. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and guiltily wished that "spoiler" the Chief would survive, but of course he too was infected.
I agree with other reviewers; Charlie Parker had to stop and change somehow. The violence was getting out of hand.
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