The Wolf In Winter by John Connolly

Read January 2019
Recommended for fans of Connolly
★     ★     ★     1/2

For those of you who are wondering if you should read Connolly, I don’t really know. He’s not precisely one I would have recommended for myself, but he’s become almost a genre of his own, a curious blend of vengeance wish-fulfillment, literary fiction, and a dash of supernatural horror. The story line has been evolving since the very first book, when Charlie Parker’s wife and young daughter were killed by a serial killer. It seems that despite a period or two of happy times, it has almost becomes Parker’s mission to avenge those targeted by killers of the most brutal sort.

A winter setting was perfect for a icy January stay-cation. The plot was less intriguing, as I have saw the exact story done on Supernatural, Season One, recently. The plot centers on a preternaturally lucky town, named ‘Prosperous.’ Sure, Connolly goes into the town with a little more depth than the tv show, but it’s just not a tale that has a lot to hold for me, no matter how Connolly is able to couch it in cult-like behavior of the town’s resident. More so than the show–perhaps because of the depth–I never got full buy-in on the group-think that lets seemingly “normal” people kidnap others for –da-dum–nefarious motives.

Connolly’s other angle of late is to integrate an alternative lifestyle or social justice issue. He’s covered soldiers and PTSD, abuse of women (which he touches on again), and runaways and prostitution. I feel like he tends to do a solid job of presenting issues in a multilayered way. In this one, he explores a bit of the homeless community when the daughter of a homeless man has gone missing, and the man seems to have committed suicide.

One of the many reasons I like Connolly is his on-point social commentary. Regarding a man working at a homeless shelter: “Stephen was clearly a good kid, but he had the egotism of youth. The world revolved around him, and consequently he believed that he had the power to change how it worked. And, in the way of the young, he had made another’s pain about himself, even if he did so for what seemed the best of reasons. Time and age would change him; if they didn’t, he wouldn’t be working in soup kitchens and shelters much longer.”

Brilliant. I see this often in young nurses. In a few short sentences, he captured a phenomenon I had noted but hadn’t been able to describe and the reasons I felt bothered and discomforted by it.

And this, the cutting edge of hope when one is in pain:

“Let him come, and let us be done with all this. But somehow he would steal enough sleep to continue, and each day he tried to convince himself that he could discern a diminution in his sufferings: more time between the spasms in his legs, like a child counting the second between cracks of thunder to reassure himself that the storm was passing; a little more control over his fingers and toes, like a transplant patient learning to use a new limb; and a slight reduction in the intensity of the noise in his ears, in the hope that madness might be held at bay.”

So the mystery, a mild one, solvable; the supernatural, a little more present, in the familial way, but takes us no farther in the series conflict. Decent enough, and somehow absorbing to me, despite not being outstanding at any one thing. As always, perhaps, a combination that is almost and leaves me wanting more.

About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
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