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