Fall into a good book

Title: A Time of Torment by John ConnollyPublisher: Atria 480 pp

Genre: mystery, thriller, fiction, series, Charlie Parker

5+ stars

Author:

John Connolly, born in Dublin, Ireland, studied English in Trinity College, Dublin and journalism at Dublin City University, subsequently spending five years working as a freelance journalist for The Irish Times newspaper. He continues to contribute literary articles and interviews. He has visits Maine for over 20 years. The Time of Torment is the 14th Charlie Parker novel, joining a long line of exceptional writing, plot development and suspense. The first, Every Dead Thing (1999) introduced the former policeman hunting the killer of his wife and daughter. Dark Hollow followed (2000) then The Killing Kind, (2001) and The White Road (2002). 2005 marked the publication of The Black Angel, The Unquiet, (2007) The Reapers, in 2008 The Lovers, in 2009, and The Whisperers, the ninth Charlie Parker novel (2010). The Burning Soul, was published in 2011, followed by The Wrath of Angels and The Wolf in Winter  2014. Last year I reviewed and highly recommended A Song of Shadows, the 13th Parker novel. 

In 2003, John published his first stand-alone book, Bad Men. Nocturnes, a collection of novellas and short stories followed and then Night Music: Nocturnes Volume 2, the second collection of short stories. The Book of Lost Things, concerns fairy stories and the power that books have to shape our world. The Gates (2009), was his first novel for young adults. A sequel published in 2011 as Hell’s Bells in the UK and The Infernals in the United States, was followed by The Creeps. DreamWorks Studios acquired the Samuel Johnson trilogy for development. With his partner, Jennifer Ridyard, he has written Conquest, Empire and Dominion, in the Chronicles of the Invaders YA series.

Books to Die For, a nonfiction anthology co-edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke, won the 2013 Agatha, Anthony and Macavity Awards for Best Critical/Biographical Book of the year. His website: http://www.johnconnollybooks.com.

Story line:

As always John Connolly delivers an impeccable thriller. I still insist these need to be read in order, but know people who have started in the middle of the series, even with this book. They ALL go back the first novel. You don’t have the suspense of character development nor history with details that make the over arching story. Each book is a chapter in am amazing life.

This time we start in Maine and finish with a Cult in West Virginia. It could have been anywhere in the USA, particularly the Appalachians but also the West and Midwest, PNW. Connolly nails our culture of guns, violence, paranoia but also portrays intense loyalty, family and friends. The paranormal element is slight, tangible and believable. And ever present in the next book, as clearly there is much more ahead. Eager anticipation for every word.

Every book is well written, plot driven, meticulously researched and a joy to read, and reread. I always look forward to Louis and Angel. And now await Sam’s development. I own them all. Read them in one sitting, reread to ponder nuances. And leave the lights on.

Quotes:

The Collector had not seen Parker in more than a year, and was astonished by the changes in him. It was not simply the physical alterations wrought by his suffering, although his injuries, and his ongoing recuperation from them, had left him thinner than before, and his hair was speckled with white where the shotgun pellets had torn paths through his scalp. No, this was a man transformed within as well as without, and the unease that the Collector had always experienced in Parker’s presence, a glowing ember of concern, suddenly exploded into flame.

But it was his gaze that was most altered. If it was true what they said about the eyes being the windows to the soul, then Parker’s soul burned with a new fire. His eyes held a calm conviction that Dave had not seen in them before. This was a fundamentally changed man, one who had come back strengthened, not weakened, by what he had endured, but who was also both less and more than he once had been. 

….was good news for Portland’s better restaurants, once they’d grown used to Angel’s distinctive taste in attire and concluded that he wasn’t about to steal any of the silverware.

Sam was not what he had believed her to be. She was his daughter, and more than that: she was a being in the process of becoming, but what might ultimately emerge from that metamorphosis could not be foretold. If Sam knew, then she declined to say.

Parker could spend a lifetime hunting the servants, or he could find the master and destroy him.

Law and justice are not the same.”

He had decided that when he became governor, or world ruler—whichever came first—he’d pass a law forcing people to make and take all cell phone calls outside bars and restaurants, on pain of having their phones confiscated, or fed to them. 

For a moment, Parker thought he should have become a lawyer. He could have learned to live with the shame if it enabled him to own apartment blocks.

“I ought to warn you,” Parker told Louis. “They won’t have seen anything like you before.” “You mean black, or gay?” “No, just clean.”

The Fulci brothers rarely blessed the Porterhouse with their business. They preferred to avoid blighted institutions on the grounds that they brought their own trouble with them, and so drinking somewhere like the Porterhouse was like taking sand to a desert.

And then he saw the name attached to the academic reference, and a prickle of disquiet crept across him like the touch of a spider in the dark.

A dead king, then, is a kind of effigy, typically centered on the skull of a victim, but very rare, even in its most basic form, and the creation of one, as far as we can tell, is entirely the preserve of the most extreme of criminal groups or gangs.

Maybe sometime in the past, long before people knew about fripperies like proper plumbing, A/C that didn’t sound like a failing jet engine, and towels with a consistency softer than sandpaper, Dryden’s might have served as an acceptable rest stop for those with suitably low expectations, but it now belonged to another, distant century, just like smallpox and tuberculosis, although Louis wouldn’t have been surprised if a sample of some of the gunk behind the sink in his bathroom had revealed traces of both.


Received as an ARC ebook from Netgalley, as well as purchased hardcover. Available from Rochester Public Library.

Chilling thriller

Title: A Song of Shadows by John Connolly (448 pp)
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton Atria/Emily Bestler (Sept 29,2015)

Genre: mystery, thriller, suspense, supernatural, Maine

5 stars

Author:

Irish author John Connolly studied English in Trinity College, Dublin and journalism at Dublin City University, and began working as a freelance journalist for The Irish Times newspaper. He continues to interview authors, which are on his website, http://www.johnconnollybooks.com.

I will never forget reading the award winning (Shamus) first story, completely hooked by the first chapter. Every Dead Thing (1999), took five years to write. It introduced the anti-hero Charlie Parker, a former policeman hunting the killer of his wife and daughter. Dark Hollow (2000) The Killing Kind (2001) The White Road (2002) The Black Angel (2005). Charlie Parker has since appeared in five additional novels: The Unquiet, The Reapers (where he plays a secondary role to his associates, Louis and Angel), The Lovers, The Whisperers, and The Burning Soul, The Wrath of Angels (2013). A Song of Shadows is the 12th Parker novel.

Other works include: The Book of Lost Things, non-mystery novel, a stand-alone book – Bad Men (2004) and Nocturnes (many read of BBC Radio4), a collection of novellas and short stories Night Music, a second Nocturnes will be published this year. His YA books: The Gates (2009) launched the Samuel Johnson series, followed by Hell’s Bells (UK)/The Infernals (US 2011) The Creeps (2013). He is also the co-editor, with Declan Burke, of Books to Die For, an anthology of essays from the world’s top crime writers in response to the question, “Which book should all lovers of crime fiction read before they die?” This book won both the Agatha and the Anthony Awards for best nonfiction (2012/2013). 

Story Line:

This is one of the most impressive crime series, meticulous researched. The writing is superb, every page lyrical and well crafted. The characters are richly detailed, personal and anticipated. I want their stories, their histories, their interactions. You cannot start with this book. 

I read the British version seconds after overseas shipping arrived, exceedingly grateful a lovely friend knows my reading passion. I read the Netgalley e-version to savor the story again. I will perhaps never reread the previous novel (Wolf in Winter), having barely survived the first intense reading. The sequence of events is so much more poignant, traumatic, unexpected and unnerving when these books are read in order. I rejoice at this new installment as well as its future promise.

Charlie Parker is gradually recovering from the traumatic injuries sustained in his last case, but is now a man with a mission and a greater understanding of his role in the world. Parker investigates local murders that are connected to a WWII Nazi concentration camp in Lubko. Seven decades have passed but the crimes still haunt and tragically carry forward. I am delighted Louis and Angel still have his back. That his daughters are central to his being. That Parker exists in our world. Connolly is a highlight of my fictional year.

Read On:

Connolly recommends Ross Macdonald, James Lee Burke and Ed McBain as inspirational.

Quotes:

Opening line: Winter dead, spring dying, and summer waiting in the wings.

One tall and black, the other shorter and whiter, although Soames thought he might have been Latino, or part Latino, or parts lots of things, most of them problematical. (Security consultants, Louis and Angel)

You drive like you got Miss Daisy in the back, said Angel, as they made stately progress west. ….the internal combustion engine is wasted on you.

They (the townspeople) became strangely protective of him…perhaps it was something to do with his past: he was a man who had lost a wife and child, and had suffered grievous injury just for doing his job which, as far as anyone could tell, largely involved putting his mark on the kind of men and women without whom the world was a much better place.

What man offers in heroism on the field of battle, woman equals with unending perseverance and sacrifice (quoting one of Hitler’s maxim)

…beyond (the reach of) any written law, any human justice. But that was not the only Justice.

Read as an ARC from Netgalley. Thank you!
  
 

Summer reads, John Connolly

Read nine of the books on my Kindle list and loved them. Now heading for the John Connolly new book The Whisperers…can’t recommend unless you have read the others in this Charlie Parker PI series. I have thoroughly enjoyed them all, shared them with many, and have had reciprication, with the arrival of this new book in my post box!!! A dear friend sent this to me, to read while I was in New England. I was actually avoiding reading it here because it is bound to be scary, I would have to have all the lights on in the house, and would probably end up depressed (Well, the book would be finished until the next one, another year or two, and the human race doesn’t always come off well, e.g. these are all too real books.). I am about to start reading though! It is a dilemma, as I can’t finish it tonight and do I really want nightmares? He writes about places I love, with people I recognize. And there are a few restaurants that he comments on, that really ARE worth finding! My mouth is watering for those lobster rolls, and a good pint.

Fresh Eire

Some short notes on recent favourite Irish mystery authors:

Leonie Swann Three Bags Full
I am still laughing, 12 months later. Detective Sheep! The ‘wrong kind of grass’ ;-0 the busybody (miss maple-cleverest of the sheep, perhaps in the whole world; Othello a black Hebridean 4 horned ram with a mysterious past; Gabriel – a very odd sheep; cloud – the wooliest sheep) and intriguing story. “Genuinely odd” “best (or only?) sheep detective novel you will read all year.” In an Irish village of Glennkill, shepherd George was murdered with a spade; great puns! Light.
German translated into Irish (Anthea Bell).

Ian Sansom The Book stops here (2008)
Like the case of the Missing Books and Mr Dixon Disappears, Israel Armstrong continues the Mobile Library mysteries with hilarity. It is so classically Irish, with English subtitles 😉 Hard to believe he has only lived in Tumdrum 6 months (and three books) selfsame rainy days which slowly and silently became weeks and then months, and which seemed gradually to be slowing, and slowing and slowing….stuck there not just for months, but years, decades almost! Oh the young. But he is well read, and continually quotes authors, plays, poets, while no one around him understands anything. Already an anachronism.
But also very sad as he has to learn that ‘you have a life where you’re living. That he wasn’t English, hardly european, certainly not irish, ….

Tana French In the Wood, the Likeness
The Irish Troubles, from within the police force. Huge creep factor, we are so uncivilised. The second book, redeemed some of the first – you do care about these people, but learning how much is out of our control isn’t pleasant. Games people play, which destroy other lives. Carrie Maddox, detective is contacted because a look alike is found dead, so the previous story ( novel) continues (do read in order). Edgar award for first novel, Clarian Best Fiction. Other awards.

John Connolly The Reapers
This man still scares me to death. Read only with the lights on – start in order of publication. His command of the language still amazes and delights me – how this Irishman got under the New England skin ….

Sebastian Barry 2008 The Secret Scripture
Intriguing with the different views of life, as fact and as remembered. Stranglehold that the Catholic church had on individual lives…. Not an easy read. A Long Long Way. 2005: Dublin 1955 plays, poems. 1914, Great War/Battle for Irish Independence – flawless use of language, beautiful, evocative moments, singing, birth, words. But overwhelming consequences of war. Utterly depressing, totally Irish. ‘He was born in the dying days” (1896). Read at your peril.