TITLE: Every Dead Thing
AUTHOR: John Connolly
BLURB: Haunted by the unsolved slayings of his wife and young daughter, and tormented by his sense of guilt, former NYPD detective Charlie Parker is a man consumed by violence, regret and the desire for revenge. But when his ex-partner asks him to track down a missing girl, Parker embarks on an odyssey that is to lead him to the heart of organized crime; to an old black woman who dwells by a Louisiana swamp and hears the voices of the dead; to cellars of torture and murder; and to a serial killer unlike any other, an artist who uses the human body as his canvas and takes faces as his prize, the killer known only as the Traveling Man.
Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker is as robust a detective fiction character as any of the greats – including Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade and Harry Bosch – with a complexity that satisfies the reader and avoids any of the cliches. Parker is a sympathetic bad boy with a reason for revenge and an unapologetic approach to how he achieves it. Former cop turned less than stunningly successful private eye, he takes on the real world villains while searching for the focus of his vengeful anger.
The extremely dark personal story, steeped in gory details (in case you’re squeamish because the author sure isn’t), the way his world turns completely upside down and the supernatural undertones of the chase for the man who slaughtered his family, is enough to hold anyone’s attention from page to page and make a satisfying read. Add to that a second story line that lets us see the detective at full throttle, following a real world case involving bad guys with armour piercing bullets and an attitude, and you’ve got a real nail biting page turner.
This is the first of the Charlie Parker novels and in a way it’s more detective fiction than supernatural thriller. Connolly has shown real skill in sliding the dial nearer and nearer to the supernatural as the series progresses, without losing the atmosphere of mystery and need for deductive reasoning to be found in good crime fiction. An added bonus is simply the quality of the writing. The author raises the literary bar enough to give the writing style some real gravitas, without sacrificing the hardboiled nature of suspense and action.
John Connolly and Charlie Parker will repay in spades the time you invest in getting to know them.