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"There’s no mistaking a John Connolly novel, with its singular characters, eerie subject matter and socko style."

The New York Times

"Fans will agree that this is Connolly's masterpiece."

Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed review)

"A complicated plot, richly drawn characters, and a vein of horrors will keep readers devouring the pages."

Kirkus Reviews

The Woman in the Woods

Parker finds that he is not alone in his search for a dead woman's missing child.

 The Woman in the Woods


It is spring, and the semi-preserved body of a young Jewish woman is discovered buried in the Maine woods. It is clear that she gave birth shortly before her death. But there is no sign of a baby. Private detective Charlie Parker is engaged by the lawyer Moxie Castin 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 more than a missing child, someone prepared to leave bodies in his wake. And in a house by the woods, a toy telephone begins to ring. For a young boy is about to receive a call from a dead woman . . .

  • Excerpt from Chapter XLVI

    “Why are you still here?” asked a voice from the bed.

    “I’m trying to finish a chapter.”

    Angel sounded hoarse. Louis put down the novel and fetched the no-spill water cup with its flexible straw. He held it until Angel waved a hand to signal he was done. His eyes seemed clearer than they had been since before the operation, like those of a man who has woken after a long, undisturbed rest.

    “What are you reading now?” Angel asked.

    The Wind in the Willows.”

    “Isn’t that for kids?”

    “Maybe. Who cares?”

    “And after that?”

    Louis reached for his coat and removed a folded sheet of paper. He examined the contents of the list.

    “I might try something older. You ever read Dickens?”

    “Yeah, I read Dickens.”

    “Which one?”

    “All of them.”

    “Seriously? I never knew that about you.”

    “I read a lot when I was younger, and when I was in jail. Big books. I even read Ulysses.”

    “Nobody’s read Ulysses, or nobody we know.”

    “I have.”

    “Did you understand it?”

    “I don’t think so. Finished it, though, which counts for something.”

    “You still read now. You always have a book by the bed.”

    “I don’t read the way I used to. Not like that.”

    “You ought to start again.” Louis waved his paper. “I got a list you can use.”

    The Wind in the Willows, huh?”

    “That’s right.”

    “So read me something from it.”

    “You mean out loud?”

    “You think I’m psychic, I’m gonna guess the words?”

    Louis glanced at the half-open door. He had never read aloud to anyone in his life, nor had he been read aloud to. He could recall his mother singing to him as a child, but never reading stories, not unless they were from the Bible. He thought of Angel’s bodyguards. He didn’t want them to return and find him voicing rats and toads.

    “You’re too embarrassed to read to me?” asked Angel. “If I die, you’ll be—”

    “Okay!” said Louis. “Not the dying again. You want me to go back to the beginning?”

    “No, just from where you’re at.”

    With one final check of the door, Louis began.

    “‘The line of the horizon was clear and hard against the sky,’” he read, “‘and in one particular quarter it showed back against a silvery climbing phosphorescence that grew and grew. At last, over the rim of the waiting earth the moon lifted with slow majesty till it swung clear of the horizon and rode off, free of moorings; and once more they began to see surfaces—meadows wide-spread, and quiet gardens, and the river itself from bank to bank, all softly disclosed, all washed clean of mystery and terror, all radiant again as by day, but with a difference that was tremendous. Their old haunts greeted them again in other raiment, as if they had slipped away and put on this pure new apparel and come quietly back, smiling as they shyly waited to see if they would be recognized again under it . . .”


    All was still.

    Angel was once again asleep. Louis stopped reading.

    “That,” said Tony Fulci, from his seat on the floor, “was fucking beautiful.”

    Beside him, his brother Paulie—fellow bodyguard and now, it appeared, literary critic—nodded in agreement.

    “Yeah, fucking beautiful . . .”

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