Hello there. I don't have an awful lot of internet access so I don't get to update this as much as I want. However, here I am right now so make the most of it, like I'm your partner and you haven't spoken to me in weeks. Cherish me, Internet. CHERISH ME AND MY WORDS.
I like to read. Of course I do. What sort of writer doesn't? A TERRIBLE ONE, that's what! I mean, who! In order to broaden my horizons, I started to actively pick random books from my local library to read. Some were so mundane I can't even remember them, but others were a lot more intriguing. Case in point: the work of John Connolly. Or more precisely, his Charlie Parker series.
I stumbled across this author by searching on the library's database for 'horror anthologies' – they didn't have his Nocturnes collection checked in, but they did have THE WHISPERERS, so I gave that a go. The premise sounded a little dull – someone's smuggling artefacts stolen from the Middle East – but the promise of 'unnatural' horror reeled me in none-the-less.
The book itself took a little getting into, as it takes several chapters before it turns to the point of view of ex-cop Charlie Parker – in this book, he's lost his PI licence after the events in a previous book, and is trying to figure out quite what to do. And then he's asked to look into the suicide of a former soldier, which sets him on a path that ends in very explicit supernatural horror (though not a gratuitous amount). All the stuff in the Middle East was a bit boring, but as soon as we're in Parker's head the story comes alive. He's a man transformed by past tragedy into a relentless machine fuelled by the pursuit of justice, but this is leavened with a sharp wit and down-to-earth approach to the more macabre elements of the story/his world that really appealed to me.
THE WHISPERERS is the tenth Charlie Parker novel and has plenty of mentions of past adventures, and those he encountered. One such character in particular plays an integral (though low key) role in this story. I enjoyed the book but only really when Parker's narrating events – this was a character I wanted to spend more time with. So, back to the library where I found THE LOVERS (as luck would have it, the ninth book in the series).
This was a lot better. Some chapters still abandon Parker's point of view in order to detail events, but the overall plot of two, apparently resurrected, killers with ties to Parker's familial past was far more engaging than the follow-up book. Was this a sign that John Connolly's work is better earlier on? I wanted to find out (as well as learn more about the various cases touched by the unnatural that Parker finds himself embroiled in).
This time the library had THE KILLING KIND and THE WHITE ROAD available. Both from earlier in the series and, as luck would have it, the third and fourth Charlie Parker novels, respectively. I've just finished THE KILLING KIND and, although there are touches of the supernatural, it's more about twisted humans than any kind of demonic entity or group – yet, it still felt refreshing and exciting to read. Basically, when a load of human bones are uncovered by a remote lake, it sets off a chain of events involving a 1960s religious commune, a conspiracy, and a creepy maniac obsessed with deadly spiders and insects. There are very few interstitial chapters removed from Parker's POV, which I think greatly helped the flow. Not that I think John Connolly's writing suffers when he turns to a typical third person omniscient view, but when you're leaving behind someone with as much character as Parker, you feel it.
In any case, it's exciting (for me) to have a new series worth checking out and hunting down, especially considering it's classed as a contemporary 'thriller/crime' series, which typically I find quite boring (though I enjoy older pulp crime stories). I'm going to start on THE WHITE ROAD today, and have just picked up THE REAPERS (which is set just before THE LOVERS) and EVERY DEAD THING (the very first Parker novel) so have those to get stuck into, too. Watch out for more opinions! WATCH OUT!