by John Connolly
Published by Hodder & Stoughton, 2009
It is time…yes my friends, time to rise, time to stand up and say proudly….”I like horror”. Yes there will be those who mock, those who will cast you out. They will attack you with their vampire romance but you must be strong. To test your faith, I have a task for you. Go to your nearest bookshop, enter the crime section (no-one said it would be easy) and find John Connolly’s books. Then you must move them, one by one and carefully place them in the horror section (if you can find it) and if anyone moves them back you must persist and return them to the horror section once again. Should you be challenged in your task, by a well meaning staff member perhaps, say only these words..”it’s a horror novel”.
You see, without wishing to cause civil unrest in your local shop (although come to think of it, that might be fun) there is a serious point to be made here. John Connolly is one of my favourite authors and the reason I like him so much is that he injects his crime novels with a fair old dose of supernatural adrenalin. His writing has an edge, a darkness, it’s on the borderlands but with The Lovers Connolly has crossed over to the darkside. The supernatural elements don’t remain in the background here they are at the forefront, indeed without the spectre of the occult this book could not exist.
Charlie Parker is John Connolly’s hero, a troubled, even broken man, his history is one filled with blood, death and loss. The previous books have detailed some of this history but have left several large boulders unturned. The Lovers fills in a few of these blanks and in particular the mystery surrounding the death of Parker’s father. Why a seemingly mild mannered family man and respected police officer shot two, apparently innocent young people and then took his own life. I can’t go into any detail without spoiling the book for you, suffice to say the answer explains much of the supernatural elements that have lurked in the pages of the previous books.
A word of caution though, if you are new to Charlie Parker then please start at the beginning and work your way to this book. Start at Every Dead Thing and read them chronologically, yes you could probably read them out of sequence but if you do you won’t get the full sense of mystery, the subtle hints at something deeper. Without that history this book would be much weaker as it is though it is an immense achievement, tying up several loose ends in dramatic and unexpected fashion whilst at the same time unravelling a few other areas of mystery which will no doubt lead us deeper down the supernatural rabbit hole (I can’t wait).
So highly recommended this is the book which finally gets to the soul of Charlie Parker and does it with style, inventiveness, vivid characterisation and beautiful prose. In my mind Connolly keeps getting better with each book and seems to be getting the rewards he deserves in terms of sales. So, on second thoughts, maybe we shouldn’t upset the applecart, leave the public to appreciate the nuances and skill of a great horror writer, even if they do think they are reading a crime novel.
Rating 4.5 out of 5