The Black Angel by John Connolly
== Plot synopsis ==
This is the fifth book in the Charlie Parker series. Charlie Parker is a former NYPD cop turned private detective. His wife and daughter were murdered in the first novel by a serial killer. The earlier novels usually dealt with serial killers with some supernatural elements, but I would say this strictly falls into the category of supernatural horror.
The story revolves around the legend of the fallen / rebel angels who were banished to Earth by God for eternity, without any hope of redemption. They took on the form of men and roamed the Earth spreading evil and trying to get power. They are led by two demons who are twins and are known as the Black Angels. They are called Ashmael and Immael. Immael managed to be trapped by a Cistercian monk when he threw him into some molten silver and then cooled it down.
Ashmael has attempted along with his followers to find his twin and free him, but the monks have hid him well for the past few centuries.
The fallen angels and the humans they manage to corrupt call themselves "Believers".
You also have Parker's gay assassin friends, Louis and Angel playing a pivotal part in the story. Alice, a cousin of Louis has disappeared in New York and he asks Parkers' help.
You also get an insight during the story into why evil always seems to get atracted to Parker.
All the plot threads come together by the end leading to an encounter of epic proportions . . .
== My Thoughts ==
As in all the other novels in this series, I liked the poetic style the author uses, and the way he uses metaphors to describe Parker's feelings. An example would be:
'The days are like leaves, waiting to fall.
The past lies in the shadows of our lives. It is endlessly patient, secure in the knowledge that all we have done, and all that we have failed to do, must surely return to haunt us in the end. When I was young, I cast each day aside unthinkingly, like dandelion seeds committed to the wind, floating harmlessly from the hands of a boy and vanishing over his shoulder as he moved onward along the path toward the sunset, and home. Nothing was to be regretted, for there were more days to come. Slights and injuries would be forgotten, hurts would be forgiven, and there was radiance enough in the world to light the days that followed.
Now, as I look back over my shoulder at the path that I have taken, I can see that it has become tangled and obscured by undergrowth, where the seeds of past actions and half-acknowledged sins have taken root.
I move more slowly through life now, and the growth is catching up with me. There are briars around my ankles, weeds brush my fingertips as I walk, and the ground beneath my feet crackles with the fallen leaves of half-dead days.
The past is waiting for me, a monster of my own creation.
The past is waiting for us all.'
I have to say the overall story wasn't one that I found especially remarkable. I am not too sure why this is. It may be the ending that left me slightly disappointed. I liked the way the author built suspense by not revealing everything about the bad guy's right at the start and revealing information in small pieces as the narrative progressed.
The thing that I feel makes this worth reading is the diverse and varied range of characters featured.
Parker's character is explored and developed further in this. He still has not fully come to term with the loss of his former wife and child. You get to see him trying to create a new family with his new girlfriend Rachel and their child Samantha.
I liked the way you are never sure if he is dreaming or if he is actually seeing the ghosts of his dead wife and child.
Louis and Angel - Parker's two gay assassin friends appear in this novel again. They help to inject a bit of humour into proceedings to what can be a very depressing read at times.
I didn't find the main villain, Ashmael all that interesting. The identity of whom is not revealed right till the end though. I much enjoyed reading about one of his henchmen, Mr Brightwell aka Mr Goodkind. (He is neither good nor kind). I thought the author was able to generate a sense of menace and malice around him which you rarely get in most novels. I actually felt he was a threat that Parker may not be able to overcome.
Being a rebel angel, he can live forever if not killed and even if he is, he will come back again in another form. Certain small sections of the novel are set in medieval times and during the Second World War (1944), and you get to see BrightWell during these times going about his evil work.
== Audio narration and availability ==
This was read by Jeff Harding. I am not a big fan of his voice but I kept on listening due to the writing style of the author. The audio CD of this is available from the Isis Publishing web site (www.isis-publishing.co.uk) for £34.49. You may want to check your local library first though.
== Summary and recommendation ==
I give this 5 stars. Even though I said I think there was something missing from the plot itself, the characters themselves are interesting enough with the author being able to create a sense of fear and danger that I don't think many other authors can lay claim to being able to do.