Name: The Woman in the Woods (Charlie Parker #16)
Author: John Connolly
Number of Pages: 496 (Paperback)
Published: February 21st 2019 by Hodder & Stoughton (First published April 5th 2018)
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Supernatural
The new thrilling instalment of John Connolly’s popular Charlie Parker series.
Charlie Parker aids the police when a buried, semi-mummified body of a woman is discovered. She apparently died of childbirth. Parker has to find out who she was and what happened to the child.
Better late than never, as they say. This is the first John Connolly/Charlie Parker novel I’ve ever read, and I’m so glad I did. It’s not all bad, coming late to a series, because this being book 16, I have a whole back catalogue to discover at my leisure.
I actually started with The Woman in the Woods because the latest instalment, A Book of Bones caught my eye thanks to the striking cover, but I went on to read reviews saying it wasn’t really a book to begin with as it featured themes covered in previous stories, so The Woman in the Woods became my starting point.
Obviously I don’t have the familiar feeling of returning to well-known characters that comes with being a long-term reader, but I don’t feel anything was lacking, or that I struggled to keep up by delving into the series so late, and there’s a summary at the back of the book (I read the paperback) of Parker’s previous adventures for those who don’t want to go in totally blind.
The Woman in the Woods offers a wonderful mix of thriller, mystery, murder and something a little spooky and supernatural, a great mix that kept me turning the pages long after I should have put the book down. The plot is complex and engaging, featuring multiple storylines and many colourful characters. The supernatural element was wonderfully written, just the right amount of eerie without being too scary.
Parker becomes involved in the case of a corpse found in the woods. A huge tree has fallen, apparently without reason, and unearthed human remains. When it becomes apparent that the woman had recently given birth, the fate of the child, whether alive or dead becomes of interest to several parties, not all of them good.
There are adversaries in the form of the creepy lawyer Quayle and his associate Pallida Mors, the strange woman with her grey appearance and unpleasant smell who kills without qualms or mercy. What a duo. They’ll stop at nothing in their aim to find out what happened to a woman called Karis and her child, and when Quayle and Parker become aware of each other, you can imagine there’s going to be a scene at some point.
As for Parker’s allies, I loved Louis with his recently discovered joy of reading and list of top 100 books to read. His partner Angel is recovering in hospital after surgery, and as Louis thinks anxiously of the future he still throws himself into helping Parker with his latest case.
I also liked Moxie Castin, the man driven to discover what happened to the woman found in the woods, and Parker’s daughter Jennifer, a ghostly presence with whom Parker speaks and who plays her own role in the case of the Woman in the Woods.
As the story progressed the search for missing book pages was mentioned, which was fascinating. I believe this may carry on in the following book, so I’m glad that I read The Woman in the Woods first, to have a little background information. I won’t say more as I’m close to spoiler territory possibly here.
The whole idea of this book and what it may potentially do, and the way another book is incorporated is creepy and a little magical.
The Charlie Parker series is definitely one I’m glad to have finally discovered. I don’t know why these books have never caught my attention before, but I recommend this one for anyone looking for an exciting story, great writing, characters to love and hate, and a great deal of suspense. I cannot wait to start A Book of Bones and see what’s next for Charlie Parker and his allies and enemies.