65 of 70 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
John Connolly's "The Unquiet" is a dark and haunting tale with seamlessly blended elements: murder mystery, psychological suspense, and even a tinge of the supernatural. The first person narrator is Charlie Parker, the stereotypical brooding private detective with a tortured past. He has nearly gone mad with grief after the loss of his first wife and child, and is now unhappily separated from his second wife, Rachel, and their daughter, Sam. Charlie's newest client is Rebecca Clay, who wants to deter a stalker from harassing her and her daughter, Jenna. The man bothering Rebecca is Merrick, an extremely angry individual with a question that he wants answered: Where is Rebecca's father, Daniel Clay? Clay was a child psychiatrist who once worked with abused children; he was later accused of mishandling his cases, of being an abuser himself, and of possibly offering children to be victimized by others molesters. Rebecca insists that her father was a good man. In any case, she has not seen him in years, and has recently had him declared legally dead. Merrick thinks that Rebecca is lying.
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.
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
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For the record, I'm a big fan of John Connolly. His mastery of the language is on par James Lee Burke, spinning imagery and atmospherics uncommon in the average thriller. Connolly can take off the gloves off and get as brutal and violent as Dennis Lehane, Robert Crais, or Lee Child, but an undercurrent of Irish melancholy softens the blow with cascading riffs of near-poetic prose. And if that's not enough, Connolly succeeds in weaving a supernatural dimension in private detective Charlie Parker's "honeycomb world", succeeding where so many have failed in striking the difficult balance between credible and creepy.
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.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
If you've never read a Charlie Parker novel, I urge you to quickly open up a search page for Amazon (or run to your fave bookstore, whichever is your preference) and begin reading. I read many books each year, but few stand out in my memory like the Parker novels.
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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
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John Connolly was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1968 and has, at various points in his life, worked as a journalist, a barman, a local government official, a waiter and a general gofer at Harrods department store in London. He studied English in Trinity College, Dublin and journalism at Dublin City University, and spent several years working as a freelance journalist for The Irish Times newspaper, to which he continues to contribute.
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.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
The first novel I ever read by John Connolly was one that I plucked from a remainder bin at a store that was called The Book Warehouse. The edition was a signed copy of The Killing Kind and within the covers was the signature of the author above a small hand-drawn rendering of a gallows. I suppose, in retrospect, the rendering was what hooked me into thumbing through the pages (and then wondering at the mistake of a book that well written being placed in a remainder bin). Well, for whatever reason, it was my good fortune. And I haven't stopped thumbing and reading anything and everything published by Mister Connolly before or since.
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.