Top positive review
Less gunfire, more terrifying anyway
on February 19, 2004
The first two Charlier Parker novels, by Irish journalist John Connolly, were violent and very disturbing, pocked with gunfire and dead bodies, and visions of horrors from the afterlife. Parker himself is a strange, tortured soul, who can see those who have been killed violently, so that he can't ignore them and return to his quiet life. This third Parker book is even nastier in some ways: the author has managed to make things even more sinister by making the violence more dramatic, more creepy, more hidden.
In this installment, Parker's relegated himself to watching wayward husbands and doing boring industrial security work. He imagines that his presence somehow makes violent people worse, or perhaps brings them out of the woodwork. He's patched up his relationship with Rachel and made peace with the world, and now is trying to make ends meet without killing anyone. This reverie is disturbed by Jack Mercier, a retired senator who is wealthy and wishes to hire Parker to investigate a murder. Initially reluctant, Parker becomes engrossed in the case and those who quickly become suspects, largely a strange, reclusive cult of religious fanatics called The Fellowship. They appear outrageous and silly, not particularly dangerous if repugnant in their beliefs (which range from anti-abortion to anti-semitism) and somewhat nuts. Parker suspects something deeper, and soon discovers that he's right.
The book travels from there, with a plethora of wonderful characters, from a mob boss to a very different porn producer to a Jewish assassin with no face to a bad guy with a strange fascination for spiders. All are drawn interestingly, with wonderful dialog and mannerisms, and prose that makes you think this might even be poetry.
I enjoyed the first two Charlier Parker novels a great deal. This third one isn't anywhere near as violent and bloody as the first two, but given the haunting images that the author paints as he writes his books, the shootouts aren't really needed. Instead, the murky atmosphere almost makes this into a Clive Barker novel, without the supernatural nasties. Instead, your skin crawls from spiders and strange characters who've been killing for decades. For me that's more affecting, not less.