The Whisperers: A Thriller Hardcover – Jul 13 2010
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'A tour de force finale in a book which will sure be a bestseller this summer. It well deserves to be.' -- Independent on Sunday 'This is one of Connolly's darker, scarier novels, all the more effective for the way the supernatural elements arise organically out of the realistic detail' -- Guardian 'Connolly subtly combines the supernatural with the traditional crime story to superb effect. And in Herod, a man being eaten by cancer, he may have created his creepiest villain yet.' -- Sun 'Another creepy thriller from a modern master' -- Daily Mirror 'Brilliant, terrifying and effortlessly seductive, I defy anyone to put this thriller down -- it is sensational.' -- Daily Mail 'As ever with Connolly, the macabre narrative is couched in prose that is often allusive and poetic.' -- Barry Forshaw, Independent 'His latest plot is a clever mixture of quest and chase, written in prose that unfolds at warp speed' -- Observer 20090607 'Supernatural thriller by Dublin's finest.' -- Herald Magazine 20090607 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
John Connolly is the author of Every Dead Thing, Dark Hollow, The Killing Kind, The White Road, Bad Men, Nocturnes, and The Black Angel. He is a regular contributor to The Irish Times and lives in Dublin, Ireland. For more information, see his website at www.johnconnolly.co.uk.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
There are veiled references to the condition in the Iliad; during the Civil War it was known as "irritable heart;" "shellshock" was the term used during World War I and its aftermath; for World War II it became known as "battle fatigue" and "war neurosis;" then "post-Vietnam syndrome"; and today "post-traumatic stress disorder."
The plot involves a group of Iraqi veterans (all from Maine, Parker's bailiwick), who return home to set up a smuggling operation. One by one they commit suicide, and Parker is retained by the father of one of them to learn the reason for his son's death. This leads Parker to travel an unexpected path
As a result, we meet some old friends, Angel and Louis, who always manage to cover Parker's back. But more important, Parker has to work with an old nemesis, The Collector. And the eerie Herod, a man with strange tastes, and his shadow, the Captain. The characters and the plot interweave on various levels, with prose that mesmerizes the reader. The book is highly recommended.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The Whisperers by John Connolly (and apparently the entire series) is a thriller with supernatural elements (most of which worked for me).
The cover is well-chosen as Parker's investigation into an ex-soldier's suicide eventually leads him to the discovery of ancient artifacts looted from a museum in Iraq now being smuggled across the border to Canada. As Parker continues his investigation, he learns about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and finds hints that the tragedies befalling the veterans one by one might have a more sinister and horrifying cause.
"They left you this way. Your emotions are no longer under control. You are no longer under your own control. You become depressed, paranoid, removed from those who care about you. You believe that you are still at war. You fight your bedclothes at night. You become estranged from your loved ones, and they leave you.
"And maybe, just maybe, you start believing that you are haunted, that demons speak to you from boxes, and when you can't satisfy them, when you can't do what they want you to do, they turn you against yourself, and they punish you for your failings.
"And maybe, just maybe, that moment of obliteration comes as a relief."
Connolly does an admirable job of not trumpeting political opinions about the war in Iraq - instead he shines the spotlight on the war's effect on the soldiers, how physically and emotionally shattered they become, the treatment (or lack thereof given to them), what little compensation they receive for laying their lives on the line, and what happens to them once they finally come home.
The Iraqis are not painted as the enemy here - another aspect of this thriller I liked --but there are plenty of villains. You have the government who is not taking care of its soldiers, other ruthless smugglers, and a revolting, face-is-being-eaten-by-a-disease killer by the name of Herod.
Connolly hits almost all of the marks for a great thriller - steady build up of suspense; surprises that keep the plot moving; intriguing, well-drawn characters; and an insightful, pertinent take on current events.
Some of the supernatural elements confused me - I'm not sure if it's because they're a continuation from prior books in the series. For example, the character called the Collector showed up in the last 3rd of the book as a vaguely omnipotent presence with an unidentified purpose and could either be good or evil. Again, I'm not sure if he's merely a literary device or part of an overall, running theme. My curiosity is sufficiently piqued regarding the Collector's role, as well as Parker's dark past, so that I intend on picking up the rest of the series.
I have read all the Charlie Parker novels, and I can see where some might not like this one as much as the previous ones. First, this one is not really about Charlie. Some of the previous ones have been so personal to Charlie, this one stands out as being markedly different. Secondly, the supernatural elements of the story are more in the forefront from the very beginning. I for one was glad to see Charlie taking on cases again. It felt like the return of Charlie Parker, private detective instead of Charlie Parker man of vengeance and despair. It was nice to see that Charlie himself might have a future.
Charlie is called into action by the father of an Iraqi war veteran anxious to learn more about his son's apparent suicide and his connections to some of the men he served with in Iraq. What follows is a tale that is not all that original, but still very compelling. Antiquities stolen from the Iraq National Museum have found their way back to the United States along with a few entities that nobody expected. The author tells a darkly human story of greed and sacrifice, while also exploring some very ancient evils.
All of the information on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was very interesting and served to further connect the reader to all the characters, making their role in the events both more understandable and sad. Louis and Angel are back, but with a somewhat smaller role this time. As always, they lend a delicious amount of tension and drama to any scene they are in. The villains in this tale are both old and new, and while I thought I had this all figured out, by the time the end rolled around I was in for some unexpected surprises.
The bottom line: this is a good read for any fan of crime or supernatural fiction. Though not quite as intense as the more recent Charlie Parker novels, still an edge of your seat page turner sure to satisfy. Recommended.
The information on PTSD was too much and I felt it distracted from the story and the overall Charlie Parker series. I understand it was important, but really it could have been summed up in a chapter instead of continuing to pop up.
For me, the Black Angel was the culminating book for what I think is main plot of Charlie Parkers life. I think the super natural elements are important. I think that a show down between Charlie Parker and the super natural beings will ultimately close this series. I think we've seen peices of it in the Lovers and Whisperers, but that John Connolly has stepped back from it being a focal point. I think in his next book it should be brought to the front more.
I felt this book was a slow read. There was just too much information to sort through before the story got going.
I am still a fan and am eagerly awaiting the next one...
Connolly's ability to develop and flesh characters so finely that you sometimes "feel" them in the room with you is extraordinary. The author is a master of establishing mood and motivation through the psychological maneuverings of his characters and his readers. Connolly's work is at once atmospheric, moody, dark and disturbing--yet compelling and hard to put down. He can establish mood, a sense of disquiet, peril, or supernatural unease with a few well turned phrases. And his ability to build suspense and an impending sense of doom that is almost palpable to the reader is amazing.
In "The Whisperers", Charlie is unwittingly drawn into a case that, like most others, ultimately has a supernatural flavoring to it. A smuggling ring operated by ex-Iraqi war veterans is shipping Iraqi antiquities to buyers in Canada. Parker unearths the scheme as he investigates the suicide of a former Iraqi soldier---a suicide that soon leads to the discovery of a suicide cluster among the former vets involved in the smuggling ring--clearly, they brought something home from Iraq that is more deadly than gold and jewels. Old characters (The Collector) reappear and new evil forces appear (Herod and The Captain). Everyone seems interested in one certain antiquity (a lead lined gold covered box) for very different reasons. Might the fate of the world hinge on who finds and employs or contains this certin antiquity? But, of course, it might.
In "The Whisperers", Connoly's noteworthy writing and creative imagination is still at work yet the novel fell short of expectations for me. There was simply not enough of Charlie Parker and his internal musings, self-introspection, and philosophical asides. Notably, there was an absence of Parker's thirst for revenge, especially after an egregious, tough-to-read sequence of his being tortured. Additionally, there were just brief cameos for Louis and Angel, two of the most enigmatic and intriguing backup characters in thriller fiction. Succinctly, there were just too few of the elements that drew me to the Parker series so many years ago and too many interactions through outside characters combined with lengthy discourses on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I highly recommend this series to those attracted to intense, pyschologically intricate, suspense thrillers but this may not be the best one to start with. If possible, read them chronologically, if possible.
This passage is just one of the unforgettable scenes you will carry with you from THE WHISPERERS, a novel that is occasionally frustrating but ultimately rewarding. It begins at the commencement of the second Iraq War, with the pillaging of a museum of antiquities. Some items are irreparably vandalized, while others --- particularly an enigmatic box --- find their way to the United States courtesy of a group of veterans who are seeking to supplement their post-war compensation. Disparate members, however, begin committing suicide once they reach stateside. The father of one of these soldiers doesn't buy the official diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and hires Parker to investigate his late son's life and find out what may have caused him to end it so tragically. Parker is initially unaware of the smuggling operation, and thus is walking exposed to danger from a number of sources. The smugglers do not want him nosing around their business, given that his reputation precedes him, and figure that they can scare him off early with a bit of carefully applied force.
There is another, though, who is pursuing the smugglers as well: Herod, whose bizarre appearance reveals the rot and decay that inflicts his body physically and spiritually. He is a man of strange and unusual tastes and methods, and he wants that aforementioned box, not so much for himself, but for a client of sorts --- an entity known by many names throughout many ages, and is known to Herod as the Captain. In and of itself, the box is desired by the Captain not so much for what it is as for what it contains. And you don't want to know the answer to that. Parker is not so blissfully unaware of this; he merely thinks that he is in mortal danger from a smuggling ring. Angel and Louis are there to help, of course, but it is the unannounced, unexpected and uninvited presence of the Collector that puts Parker on notice that what he is investigating goes far beyond the trivial affairs of Mankind. the Collector identifies himself as God's Killer; he wants that box as well, and will do anything he needs to do in order to get it.
Connolly draws together elements of mystery, horror, suspense and, yes, humor to create THE WHISPERERS. If that's not enough, he populates the narrative with what are perhaps the most riveting and unforgettable protagonists and antagonists --- some of whom continue to be sorted out after more than a decade --- that you will find in fiction today. Even the names of the characters are unforgettable. Herod? Just those two syllables taken together are enough to creep you out. There is also a passage near the end where Connolly flirts with a boundary, doing so in such a way as to render it shocking and horrific. In the hands of a lesser scribe, what is done would have been totally objectionable. I won't describe it, other than to tell you that it involves the Captain --- who manifests himself in this scene as...something else --- and a man tied to a chair.
Extremely dark humor is present in THE WHISPERERS as well. The repartee among Louis, Angel and Parker is unequalled --- I would be first in line to buy a collection of such conversations culled from all of the Parker novels --- and one of the final vignettes in the book, involving The Collector and Herod, is unforgettable. You'll never look at an ashtray again without thinking of it.
At times, though, the book reads somewhat like a horror novel wrapped around a political sermon. Having read nearly every word Connolly has published, I know this was not necessarily his intention. Connolly has made his political positions known in prior volumes, but always in a subtle context within the heart of the novel. Here, the discussion of those positions almost hijacks the story, interrupting rather than easing the flow of it. And that's unfortunate, because some of Connolly's best and most imaginative prose can be found here. Nevertheless, it's worth wading through the political dissertation to get to it.
While THE WHISPERERS may not be quite the equal of some of Connolly's other works, it is still a book you will not want to miss.