Sixteen novels in and are we tired of hearing about the troubled Charlie Parker? No, indeed we are not. He has marvellous entertaining friends too. THE WOMAN IN THE WOODS is brilliant, and its hard to fault at all a series that bundles you so successfully through the emotional washing machine with each novel. At the end of each Parker book we have been through a hell of a ride, and we are inevitably changed. Or at least until the next Parker outing anyway; then we will possibly have even more love and grief wrenched out of us for someone we just want to see toddle happily off on a beach holiday.
This is one damaged man, but the changes wrought by Parker’s other worldly interactions are not necessarily always to his disadvantage. Connolly has a delicate task ahead in not making Charlie too much of a super hero or the immortal of private detectives. This might be why Charlie generally has the stuffing beaten out of him at least once in each novel, to keep him humble, even though the man seems quite resistant to actually dying. Charlie straddles the worlds of good and bad, alive and dead. Each encounter Charlie has with the darkness threads through his psyche and subtly alters the man into something increasingly thought of as ‘other’. We don’t want to go too far down that road.
THE WOMAN IN THE WOODS has a plot that makes you grateful you’ve read all the priors for some back story. This series has travelled so far from the first book (EVERY DEAD THING, published 2009 – yikes) that you are doing yourself a major disservice if you haven’t read all the others. It’s quite an evolution; both that of Charlie himself and of us as readers of top notch quality crime fiction. Connolly has only a handful of peers in this genre that write as such a consistently high level so even if you’re not a fan of the ‘woo-woo’, you need to read these books.
If that’s not enough gush for you, let me make simple on the recommendation. If you love this writers’ books, you will also love this one. If you haven’t read them before, you’ll still be fine with this one, but the experience will be a little golden (and easier!) if you pick up some of the key priors. THE WOMAN IN THE WOODS is a beautifully crafted work of crime fiction from one of our modern masters.