By LARRY BALLWAHN | Wilton
John Connolly’s “The Woman in the Woods” is a book for the Stephen King fans, as it is a mix of mystery and the supernatural. Charlie Parker is a rough, tough private investigator with a considerable past and scary friends. To make matters worse, he sees things; he even occasionally talks with a daughter who has been dead for several years. That said, he is good at what he does.
When a woman’s body, by acts of nature, is unearthed it the Maine woods, it sets off a series of events. The woman appears to have just given birth nearby, and then bled to death as a result of not having immediate medical care. A thorough search of the area nearby fails to find any sign of the baby. And the umbilical cord appears to have been cut. Perhaps stranger yet, a Star if David has been carved in the tree above the grave.
Believing that the baby may yet be alive, a Jewish lawyer hires Charlie Parker to find the baby so that it can be properly raised and protected. Using the information at hand, it is determined that the child would be 5 or 6 years old.
Here’s where things start to get strange. Parker isn’t the only one interested in the child. A strange multi-century man by the name of Quayle and his even stranger accomplice, Mors, also are interested. They thought, rightly so, that the woman in the woods was a woman by the name of Karis who had taken a book, and not just any book, from her abusive husband’s collection. She had then escaped via a series of safe houses to whatever her ultimate fate had been. Their theory was if you find the child, you find the book. Unfortunately, their detective work consisted of identifying each safe house and leaving torture and death in their wake.
What kind of a book could be that valuable? The book was an atlas, which when used properly, had the power to reorder the earth and unearth the Buried God. If Quayle would locate the book, the dark elements would be unleashed, and he would finally be freed and allowed to die.
So, on the one hand, we have the powers of darkness, and on the other Parker and his friends, scary in their own right. Seemingly, both must use conventional methods to gain their ends (no magic or superpowers appear). Both elements seem to be conversant with the forces attributed to death and the supernatural. So who wins and how?
The book has more than one subplot. The mystery holds the reader’s attention. Exploring the supernatural is a matter of taste. At some point, I’m going to try another Connolly mystery.