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Every Dead Thing by John Connolly
== Plot ==
This is the first novel in the Charlie Parker series. It is set in about 1998 or there's about.
Charlie Parker is a NYPD cop at the start of the novel. He is an alcoholic. Parker's wife, Susan and his 3 year old daughter, Jennifer are both brutally murdered by a serial killer known as the Travelling Man. The story details Parker's journey as he tries to find out the identity of the murderer and exact revenge . . .
== Characters ==
Charlie Parker - is the main person the novel is based around. He used to be a New York cop but later on becomes a private investigator. He is haunted by his wives and childs death. He feels partially responsible as he wasn't there to protect them when they needed him. He experiences what could be considered paranormal experiences in the form of visions of his dead wife and daughter, throughout the book. You can put this down to his mental state or something paranormal. The author leaves that up to you in this novel. He doesn't like to kill but will do so, if there is no alternative.
Rachel Wolfe - is a criminal psychologist, and who develops a romantic relationship with Parker during the novel. I thought she was snooty and irritating. She is the one that is supposed to be the one that points out what is wrong with the actions Parker is taking.
Louis and Angel - are two gay assassins. They are loyal friends of Parker's. I found it quite bizarre at first as it's not often you get gay characters in a novel especially ones that are killers. However, they give the novel a different twist. Louis is a well spoken, well dressed black guy whereas Angel is a scruffy white guy. They are always bickering with each other like two old ladies.
The travelling man - is a serial killer. The story is spent with Parker trying to track him down.
== My Thoughts ==
From the plot synopsis above, you may think this is a run of the mill crime novel. However, this is not the case. This is not an easy read or a book you can read while sunbathing. It is the kind of book that you should read at night with the lights turned down. Most of it is written in the first person, and narrated by Charlie Parker.
Right at the start of the novel, he keeps switching between the present back to when he found his wives and daughters bodies, and the proceeding murder investigation over the next few months. I thought he was very clinical in the way he describes the murder of his family and his investigation into it. There is no humour in those bits but there is some dark humour dotted throughout. He is not an upbeat wise cracking PI like you find in most novels. He is haunted by the deaths of his wife and daughter and he feels responsible.
The novel does have slight supernatural elements in it. Although, in this novel, the author leaves some leeway as to whether it is Parker hallucinating or whether he is actually being haunted by the ghost of his wife and daughter. In the latter books in this series, the supernatural elements get stronger. I made the mistake of reading the third novel in this series, 'The Killing Kind', before I read this, and which has more paranormal stuff going on in it plus it had references to this first book which I didn't know about. I ended up not getting round to reading this book for a long time as I didn't understand the things I had red about and generally, I am not too keen on 'paranormal thrillers'. Now finally, that I have read the first novel, I now have a clearer understanding of what is happening and the author gently introduces you to the paranormal experiences Parker is having instead of throwing you in the deep end in his latter books. Therefore, I strongly suggest you should start off with this novel to get an idea of who Charlie Parker is and to be gently introduced to the paranormal experiences going on around him.
I found it difficult to read / listen to this novel. Some of the scenes in this were quite disturbing and gruesome especially when he describes people that had been mutilated and descriptions of dead bodies. I learnt a lot about how police investigations work and about serial killers in general.
On the whole, this is a 'who done it' type story, which has been well-crafted, and it had me guessing all the way through. The ending was a surprise and was superbly executed.
== Audio narration ==
This was unabridged and read by Jeff Harding. I don't have the runtime for this. The narrator did an ok job. He doesn't change his tone of voice while reading which did make it somewhat boring, but it suited the serious nature of the novel.
The cheapest price I can find the audio CD version of this is £33.49 on the Isis Audio website (www.isis-publishing.co.uk).
You should be able to pick this up from your local library or second-hand though.
== Awards ==
This was nominated in 1999 for the Bram Stoker Award in the First Novel category. It was also a nominee in 2000 for the Barry Award for Best British Crime Novel. And in 2000, it won the Shamus Award for Best First P.I. Novel.
== Summary and recommendation ==
I have given this four stars. I would say this novel deals with death and evil. These are not comfortable subjects to read / listen about, and even though I felt uneasy reading the book, I did think it was well written. It is a mixture of crime and supernatural genres. If you like Stephen King then you should enjoy this and if you like a good murder mystery then this should fit the bill also. I wouldn't recommend it for anyone with a weak stomach.