The Woman in the Woods (John Connolly)

There would always be too few people in this world who cared enough to put themselves at risk for the sake of strangers, and too many who sought to inflict pain on the familiar and nameless alike

When I started reading this book, I had no idea it was part of a series with Charlie Parker, a detective, at its centre.

The premise is simple: Deep in the Maine woods, heavy rain leads to a disturbing revelation. The corpse of a young woman, her body perfectly preserved in a secret grave, is suddenly unearthed, raising a number of questions. Chief among them, what happened to her baby? Forensic analysts have determined that the woman gave birth to a child just before dying. The only clue, which may not be a clue at all, is a religious symbol left near the scene.

Private detective Charlie Parker is hired by a lawyer to shadow the police investigation and find the infant but Parker is not the only searcher. Someone else is following the trail left by the woman, someone with an interest in much more than a missing child…someone prepared to leave bodies in his wake.

The book is beautifully written, filled with metaphors and amazing descriptions of people and places.

They were not simulacra, but neither were they real; rather, they represented the potential usurpation of one reality, its slow infection by another.

The plot is overly convoluted at points and there are loads of characters that make an appearance and it took me a while to understand that they appeared in previous books and hard-core readers would already be familiar with them. There is a bit of supernatural, a bit of mystery and a lot of fun. I liked this book as it made me laugh at points and it’s important when you’re dealing with serious subject as torture and spousal rape and abuse to also interject a few well placed lines to lift up the mood.

There’s enough gruesome gore and horror to keep series fans satisfied. However, Connolly does not neglect his bread and butter – Parker is at his core a detective and there’s also an intricate mystery here that makes The Woman in the Woods a true page-turner.

What I liked:

The escape from spousal abuse and the underground network that was designed to help women escape nasty men. Made me think of Rose Madder.  It’s always great to also see scum get killed – but that’s a personal preference.

What I didn’t like:

The book start (first 100 pages) is a bit slow and convoluted. I think it could have been done better but who am I  to judge?

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