Thursday, July 09, 2009

Review: The Lovers

The Lovers, John Connolly

Atria Books, 2009, 352 pages

John Connolly (not to be confused with Michael Connelly) is a very funny Irishman who, among other things, writes a series of very dark thrillers featuring Maine P.I. Charlie Parker. The Lovers is the eighth in the series and is Connolly's darkest one yet.

In the first installment, Every Dead Thing, we learned that Parker's wife Susan and tiny daughter Jennifer were murdered and horribly mutilated by someone who could hardly be called human. Parker, who was drinking with his cop friends at the time, resigned from the NYPD, both to grieve and to keep from falling over the mental edge. Haunted by the gruesome death of his family, Charlie set out to find the murderer called the Travelling Man.

The darkness? As the series has progressed, the antagonists have become increasingly more hideous. There is something cold and otherworldly about these people . . . something supernatural. They are connected somehow, by something not alive, something somehow connected to Charlie . . .

And in The Lovers, he is determined to find out what the connection is.

Switching between the present and the past, Connolly gives us backstory, a prequel to the series that has Parker retracing his life looking for clues. When he was fifteen, his policeman father shot to death two unarmed teenagers and then came home and committed suicide. “Why?” Charlie asks his father’s aged partner, but no answer is forthcoming. And why, he wonders, are there two strangers following him in the present, leaving hideous and horrific bodies in their wake? There are answers, but I can't reveal them because that would be spoilage.

I have met Connolly twice at book signings and he is very accessible to his fans. The critics dislike him, he said after the publication of Black Angel, because they feel the element of the supernatural has no place in the crime genre. "Those same critics don't have a problem with cats solving crimes [Lilian Jackson Braun], or even writing them [Rita Mae Brown]," he added, laughing but not truly amused.

Judging by The Lovers, John has embraced the supernatural anyway: his lovers are of the undying—not the dead—but the undying. We see a glimpse of evil in the raw, unspeakable evil, evil that the human mind cannot comprehend.

The fact that Connolly is different is the reason why I like him so much; he is at the top of my favorite thriller mystery list, and I give him 5 out of 5 stars for his latest book.

* * * * *

Here is the Charlie Parker series in order from my Listmania! page on

And hot off the email from John's website is The Gates, to be published in October by Atria Books (he dabbles in horror stories, too). This is the U.K. cover, so the U.S. and Canada cover will be suckage.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

That's an intriguing twist on the crime genre. And why the hell not? I'd read this. Even though I like cats.

Michael said...

I'll have to let my sister know about this series - she goes through a pile of thrillers every week. The darker, the better, is pretty close to her reading motto - and it sounds like this series has it in spades.

Charlie said...

BARBARA: Why not get a cat to write your music reviews? Just a suggestion.

MICHAEL: A lot of thrillers are as thrilling as watching snow melt. The Charlie Parker series is for real.

Michael said...

By the way, a couple of other lone wolves I have been in touch with are Peter at The Kyusi Reader, and Bill over at Pick of the Literate.

Right now I am reading "Shatter" by Michael Robotham, about 50 pages in and so far, so good.

Charlie said...

MICHAEL Lone wolves. I like it. I'm glad we met up, and I'll check out both of the wolves.

And I'll wait for your review of Shatter; like most readers, my TBR cup is overflowing.

Jimmy Bastard said...

The missus is herself halfway through the same book as we speak.

Kim Ayres said...

I have to say I kind of avoid anything too dark and murder and mutilation of wife and child is too dark for me these days

Charlie said...

JIMMY: The woman has good taste.

KIM: The value of book reviews is that they filter what you may or may not want to read. If you hadn't read my recap you may have purchased it, thinking it was a romance novel.

Anonymous said...

"the element of the supernatural has no place in the crime genre." Oh, really?? Have these critic read James Lee Burke?