The Wolf in Winter by John Connolly
I honestly love anything by John Connolly (The Book of Lost Things is one of my favorite books of all time), so I tend to buy any of his new releases without even reading the plot synopsis first. This is the latest installment in the Charlie Parker series, and I have to say - it wasn't my favorite.
All of Connolly's books have a touch of the supernatural, and this one is no exception. The story centers around a fictional small town in Maine called Prosperous, and what the citizens of the town resort to so they can live up to the name of the town. It reminded me a lot of Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery," in that it involved a whole slew of seemingly normal people who are actually bat poop nutzo. Funnily enough (and I'm sure this was not intended by Connolly), it also reminded me of one of my favorite comedy gems, "Hot Fuzz." I kept waiting for some of the characters to say, "...For the greater good!"
Severely emotionally wounded private detective Charlie Parker decides to investigate the circumstances surrounding a homeless man who had been searching for his missing daughter in Prosperous before his mysterious demise. Of course, he uncovers a whole conspiracy and of course the people involved would like to stop him from uncovering said conspiracy. And that's pretty much what the whole book is about.
My problem with this story is that it feels so similar to several other Charlie Parker books. I got bored, and that's never happened while reading any of Connolly's other books. For one thing, for a Charlie Parker book, he wasn't really central to the story at all. And he made some un-Charlie-like mistakes that bugged me. Prosperous is really the main character here, and while we're shown the town is very evil and very old, the why of it is never explained.
My biggest beef with the plot had to do with the random injured wolf that's in half the story, and then is apathetically dispatched and never mentioned again. Yes, yes - I get that the wolf is supposed to be symbolic of Charlie Parker's fighting for his life and sanity, but it just fell flat.
Connolly is a fantastic writer, so the book is still better than 80% of any other murder mysteries, but I know he can do better.