"The Wolf in Winter is a brilliant performance from one of our finest writers."
“Strongly recommended for plot, characterization, authenticity . . . horror . . . and humanity.”
Library Journal (starred review)
"Sure to be one of the best books to be published this year . . . Read this with the lights on and the doors locked.”
The Wolf in Winter
Ancient evil in a small town brings Parker to the edge of his own mortality.
The community of Prosperous, Maine has always thrived when others have suffered. Its inhabitants are wealthy, its children's future secure. It shuns outsiders. It guards its own. And at the heart of Prosperous lies the ruins of an ancient church, transported stone by stone from England centuries earlier by the founders of the town . . . But the death of a homeless man and the disappearance of his daughter draw the haunted, lethal private investigator Charlie Parker to Prosperous. Parker is a dangerous man, driven by compassion, by rage, and by the desire for vengeance. In him the town and its protectors sense a threat graver than any they have faced in their long history, and in the comfortable, sheltered inhabitants of a small Maine town, Parker will encounter his most vicious opponents yet. Charlie Parker has been marked to die so that Prosperous may survive.
The house was studiedly anonymous: not too large or too small, and neither
particularly well kept nor in any sense dilapidated. Situated on a small patch of land
not far from the outskirts of the city of Newark, Delaware, in the densely populated
county of New Castle, the town had taken a hit when Chrysler’s Newark assembly
plant closed in 2008, along with the nearby Mopar distribution center. However, it was
still the home of the University of Delaware, and twenty thousand students can spend
a lot of money if they put their minds to it.
Newark was an unsurprising choice of location for the man we were hunting. It
was close to the borders of three states—Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and
Maryland—and only two hours from New York City by car. Then again, it was just
one of any number of rat’s nests that he had established for himself, acquired over the
years by the lawyer who protected him. The only distinguishing feature of this
property lay in the degree of power consumption: the utility bills were steeper than for
the others we had discovered. This one looked as if it was used regularly. It was more
than a storehouse for elements of his collection. It was a base of sorts.
He called himself Kushiel, but we knew him as the Collector. He had killed a
friend of ours named Jackie Garner at the end of the previous year. The Collector
would have called it an eye for an eye in his version of justice, and it was true that
Jackie had made an appalling error—one that resulted in the death of a woman who
was close to the Collector. In revenge, the Collector had shot Jackie down without
mercy while he was unarmed and on his knees, but he had also made it clear that we
were all under his gun now. We might have been hunting the Collector for what he
had done to one of ours, but we also knew that it was only a matter of time before he
decided we might be less of a threat to him with six feet of earth above our heads. We
intended to corner and kill him long before it came to that.
A light burned in one room of the house. The others were all dark. A car stood
in the driveway, and its arrival had alerted us to the possibility of the Collector’s
presence. We had placed a dual wireless break-beam alert system in the undergrowth
halfway up the drive. The system was timer-based, so an alert would be sent to our
phones only if the two beams weren’t broken twice within a ten-minute period. In
other words, it allowed for deliveries, but a vehicle that entered the property and
remained on it for any length of time would trigger the alarm.
Of course, this assumed that the Collector would not arrive on foot, or by cab,
but we figured that he had too many enemies to leave his escape routes to chance, and
he would keep at least one well-maintained vehicle. A windowless garage stood to the
right of the house, but we had not risked breaking into it when we first discovered the
existence of the property. Even planting the little wireless infrared transmitters was a
calculated gamble, and had been undertaken only after a sweep of the yard revealed
no similar alarm system beyond whatever was used to secure the house itself.
“What do you think?” said Louis.
His dark skin caught something of the moonlight, making him seem even more
of a creature of the night than usual. He wore dark cotton trousers cinched at the
ankles, and a black waxed-cotton Belstaff jacket from which all the buckles and
buttons had been removed and replaced with non-reflective equivalents. He looked
cool, but then he always looked cool.
“My legs are cramping up, is what I think,” said Angel. “If we don’t make a
move soon, you’ll have to carry me in there on a sedan chair.”