The Unquiet Audio CD – Audiobook, Sep 1 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this scary, cerebral thriller from bestseller Connolly, his fifth to feature world-weary Maine PI Charlie Parker (after 2005's The Black Angel), Parker is haunted by the ghosts of his wife and daughter, who died under mysterious circumstances that left him guilt-ridden. Parker is drawn again into the darkest recesses of human nature when a new client, Rebecca Clay, retains him to protect her against a menacing stalker, Frank Merrick, who believes Rebecca knows the whereabouts of her father, Daniel, a child psychiatrist who vanished years before. Merrick suspects Daniel knows the truth about the fate of his own young daughter, whom Daniel treated and who disappeared without a trace while Merrick was incarcerated. Connolly is a master of suggestion, creating mood and suspense with ease, and unflinchingly presents a hard-eyed look at the horrors that can lurk in quiet, rustic settings. 12-city author tour. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Daniel Clay, a psychiatrist alleged to have worked with a child-abuse ring, is missing and presumed dead. His grown daughter, Rebecca, is being stalked by an ex-con whose own daughter is missing. Rebecca hires Portland, Maine, investigator Charlie Parker to protect her and dissuade her stalker, a former contract killer named Merrick who is intent on either finding his daughter or avenging her death. The case leads to a very dark chapter in Maine's rural history and to the still-operational remnants of a syndicate of highly organized child abusers. Connolly weaves elements of the supernatural into a disturbing, very dark tale. Parker is haunted by the specters of his late wife and daughter as well as an ephemeral embodiment of death who offers both advice and warnings as the detective ventures ever deeper into the darkness of the real world and his own soul. The disquieting subject, coupled with Connolly's dark, lyrical prose, will leave unshakable images lurking on the edge of the reader's consciousness. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Parker interviews Rebecca's ex-husband, Daniel Clay's lawyer, a child psychiatrist who disliked Clay and clashed with him professionally, and others who might be able to shed some light on who Daniel Clay really was and what became of him. Meanwhile, Parker, with the help of some hired muscle, tries to keep Rebecca safe, but he soon learns that no one can be shielded from certain relentless individuals who will not be denied their chance for revenge.
"The Unquiet" is an effective horror story that proves once again the truth of Shakespeare's statement: the evil that men do lives after them. Slowly and inexorably, Charlie Parker uncovers the horrifying misdeeds and unravels the tangled web of deceit that men without conscience created to shield themselves from justice. Inevitably, the past and the present converge, with predictably violent results. Although Connolly sets his novel in what some would consider the bucolic state of Maine, there is no peace in these pages. Maine is Stephen King territory, and the cold grip of terror permeates the narrative. There are ghosts--"hollow men" who appear again and again to terrify those unlucky enough to look into the dark holes where their eyes should be. Death is never far away in Connolly's tortured and atmospheric landscape. This book is a stylish and unsettling thriller with superior descriptive writing, memorable characters, and a bone-chilling conclusion.
But for as much as I admire Connolly, I was disappointed in "The Unquiet", a needlessly long and convoluted tale of revenge and retribution that wallows under the weight of overindulgence in that which has made Connolly's fiction so refreshing and unique. In this installment, Parker is retained by Rebecca Clay to protect her from a mysterious stalker seeking answers about the fates of his daughter and Clay's child psychiatrist father, both long since disappeared. What seems to be a simple case of scaring off a bad guy spins by multiple threads into the shadowy and despicable world of child sexual abuse, leading to murder, deceit, and betrayal on that grand scale we associate with Connolly. An already complicated cast of characters and sub plots is further embellished by a mystical dose T.S. Elliot's "Hollow Men", while even managing to find a role for the ubiquitous Russian mob.
We know that Charlie "Bird" Parker is a tortured soul, but Parker's "Unquiet" anguish overpowers plot and setting. Colorful sidekicks Angel and Louis are relegated to nearly inconsequential roles, but are dull and listless even when given center stage. The ominous Louis seems more bored than menacing, while Parker plods through a truly horrific mystery distracted by his own past, haunted by guilt and floundering in self pity. What worked in previous Connolly novels - the ghoulish religious cults of Aroostook in "The Killing Kind" or the Mephistophelian villainy of "The Black Angel" - felt forced and fell flat in "The Unquiet".
John Connolly is too talented to write a bad novel and despite its weaknesses, "The Unquiet" is deeper and more interesting than the average thriller. But where previous Parker novels were page-turners, I was easily distracted while reading this one, an often tedious effort that had all the right elements, but missed in the delicate balance between action and atmosphere.
That said, I must admit that the last one seemed a bit of departure to me, with its much broader scope and its heavy-duty philosophical and historical bent. I enjoyed it tremendously, but I enjoyed this one even more because it's much more like the earlier ones I loved so much.
We begin this book with Parker separated from Rachel and Sam, a separation that seems to be inching towards permanence, and one that causes Parker great pain but about which he feels relatively powerless, I think. What separates him from Rachel is something that he can't immediately control or maybe even fully understand because doing so would involve digging very deeply into his own psyche.
In this novel, Parker's forced to confront that psyche, the way his own decisions have led to his isolation from some of the people he loves best, from sanity, even. The ghosts of his dead first wife and daughter continue to haunt him, but his understanding of that haunting changes. I won't give away any major plot points here, but I will tell you that it's good to see Parker becoming more self-aware, not just in the sense that he knows he's flawed but in the sense that he has some control over how his experiences shape him and follow him into his future.
Angel and Louis show up, which is a good thing, as I like them both as characters. They're funny even in their cold-blooded murderous moments. But they're also human, and it's good to see them covering Parker's back as they always do.
The Collector returns, and I must admit to being enthralled by this character as well. He serves both as a catalyst for Parker's increased self-awareness and for Parker's self-doubts and even self-loathing. He also helps move the plot along in a logical and compelling way.
Other characters continue to guide the reader over complex psychological terrain. If you thought Louis and Angel were studies in contrasts and grey areas, wait until you encounter Merrick here. This man, a killer who carries with him the reek of the abattoir, has a moral code that makes it hard to consider him the bad guy that he is. So, too, the Collector. You want to run screaming in the opposite direction at the same time that you are thinking, "dammit, I kind of. . .GET where he's coming from."
The themes of child sexual abuse and adults' inability to confront the damage they inflict on children in order to serve their own twisted agendas are as compelling as always, especially when Mr. Connolly weaves in history and the backgrounds of his characters to make more powerful and intriguing connections.
I've been told that consistently rating Mr. Connolly's work with 5 stars may look as though I can't rate very objectively, but here's the thing: Mr. Connolly's writing, in particular the Parker series, is some of the best I've ever read, and so far there's been not one major misstep on the writer's part. I continue to enjoy reading about Charlie, laughing at his wit, learning more about his circle of friends and defenders, and witnessing his struggle to achieve some lasting level of happiness. Perhaps it's that last one most of all that always makes me wait with great anticipation for the next book in the series.
Daniel Clay, a once-respected psychologist, has been missing for years following revelations about harm done to the children in his care. His daughter Rebecca believes that he is dead and has tried to come to terms with the legacy left by her father. But there is someone who does not believe that her father is dead and they are starting to ask awkward questions. The man is a father and a killer who is obsessed with finding out the truth about his own daughter's disappearance.
A private detective Charlie Parker is taken on board to make Merrick go away but he will not be stopped. Parker soon finds himself trapped between those who want to know the truth and those who are desperate for it to remain hidden . . .
I found the book both moving and chilling at the same time. An unusual combination to say the least, but the author is a master of his craft and certainly knows how to keep his reader's in suspense throughout the book until the final pages.
This latest volume seems to bookend the one that I found that day in a bookstore that has since closed it doors. This is the sixth novel, of a series of novels, that traces the origins of a character named Charlie Parker (a former New York City police detective and current private eye). There is a seventh novel (Bad Men) but Charlie Parker appears only briefly and so is not really mentioned.
The prologue to The Killing Kind opens with the statement:
"This is a honeycomb world. It hides a hollow heart."
The prologue to The Unquiet contains the words:
"This world, too, is a fragile construct, a honeycomb place...."
And this latest volume continues the journey that began with the brutal murders of Mister Parker's wife and daughter (the brutality of that occurring during the opening scenes of Mister Connolly's first novel: Every Dead Thing).
Having read all of the editions in the Parker series (I say `series'... but each of the novels stand alone, while at the same time furthering the development of the main character) suggests that I should comment on an edition that I find to be even more mature and more complete (and that opinion being rendered by a person judging the other novels as being equally brilliant in theme and execution). Charlie has traveled far and wide and has witnessed evil and been subjected to evil. And his soul has suffered as result. But now he is feeling in control (somewhat) and has arrived at the place where he is questioning the `whole' of it. He is wondering if he himself is really one of the `good guys' or... one of the `bad'. And during that internal monologue, he is drawing us all into some very uncomfortable conclusions.
This is the journey of a man tormented by the passing of time and the festering of personal guilt. And this latest entry involves a mystery stretching from near to distant past and drawing characters further and further into a web of deceit and betrayal. And no one should feel surprise at the villains in this edition. They are no less mysterious or frightening than previous incarnations. Some of these characters have wandered the scenery before and will undoubtedly wander again.
This time around there is a specter of child murder and sexual abuse looming above all and weaving threads of several tales and several characters (with those characters and tales converging at the end).
Merrick is at once enigmatic and interesting; a person with particular failings and even more particular talents; a tormented soul who is brutal to the extreme. That said, he is also faithful to certain ideals and somehow strangely likeable (but that may be just to my particular liking... and maybe because I'm strangely drawn to violence of the sort).
The usual supernatural elements are also present and keep you guessing whether figures really do exist or are drifting between dimensions of reality and super-reality. In any event... the whole of it works and in quite enjoyable fashion.