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I have had a bit of a spurt of late: John Connolly's books have been gathering dust on my shelves and I have finally managed to go through a few of them. The Lovers follows on in the series of books featuring private detective Charlie Parker, and does so in the usual and familiar way that Connolly approaches the stories.
Previously, we have seen the PI face up to a number of gruesome enemies, all of them with some kind of supernatural element to them, and this one is no different. Connolly picks up the thread of Parker's life directly after the events of The Reapers, which focused more on Parker's associates, Angel and Louis, only having need of our usual hero towards the end of the book. It was a welcome distraction from the familiar trend, and I felt that Connolly timed the difference approach perfectly. I wouldn't say that things were becoming stagnant with The Unquiet, or even The Black Angel, but there were so many similarities about the format of the books that the originality element had been somewhat lost.
Here, in The Lovers, we're back to basics once more as Parker is again the main focus. Stripped of his PI licence and out of favour with most of the police, he is forced to take a job as a bar manager while he tries to clear his name. This seems to him like the prime time to start investigating his own past, and the suspicious events surrounding his father's death. Connolly weaves a clever little story, bringing in some more supernatural characters in the form of the lovers of the title, although I won't elaborate any more. Parker's adversaries are always tough, and you never know where they're coming from. There are a few timely twists and the plot goes along really nicely.
Parker also manages to bring back in a couple of characters who have been around in previous books, although I won't mention who as it's sort of a surprise in the book and it should remain that way. I liked those who were new, such as his father's old colleagues on the force from way back when, and also the interaction that Parker and other characters have with them. This, I feel, was done very well, and it showed a stark contrast to the way he approached his writing in The Reapers.
It must be very hard to change your style of writing, but Connolly has managed to do it with The Reapers, which took a much more patient pace and a more analytical look at the main plot, delving into the assassin Louis' past and forging ahead with a new plot featuring him as the main protagonist. Returning back to his old style in The Lovers immediately makes you want to read faster, and it's an easier style. The sentences are shorter, the dialogue more often and snappier, the quips and comedy element much more present as Parker's jokey attitude becomes the normal way of things. Louis and Angel are only very briefly in this, and it shows Connolly is not afraid to examine all the angles of the characters who appear in his series.
There are a few questions left unanswered, but instead of being the downtrodden and unlucky PI we are used to, Parker is almost transformed into an enigma himself. I was left wanting to pick up The Whisperers (the next in the series) straight away to find out what happens next, and I think this is true testament to excellent character and series development. Nicely done here indeed.
The writing style of The Lovers is very casual and flows very easily. It's not Connolly's best effort to date, but it's still a very good read, and I something that is best read in the course of a series. If you are new to Connolly's writing, I suggest you start with the very beginning of the Parker series of books. If you just read this and none other, then you'll be able to follow it, but some small things may not make sense. The story follows very much a supernatural feel, and could technically be classed as a horror book. However, it has so many elements of a crime thriller that it falls somewhere in the middle. As with authors such as Stephen King, a little bit of the unknown keeps a healthy outlook on things, and opens the mind to endless possibilities, and it means the story remains fresh even when you think you know what's going to happen. Recommended, but as part of the series. You'll want to pick the next one up straight away.
"The Lovers" is part of the 'Charlie Parker' series of books written by John Connolly although I hadn't realised that when I got it. It was a book that came highly recommended on one of my sites that I use, lovereading.com. The story is this; the main character, Charlie Parker, is a private eye - or rather I should say is that in this book he is an ex private eye as his license has been revoked for some reason or other (I wasn't quite clear on the reason, I'm assuming that it is explained in a previous book!) So if you are a first time reader of this series like myself, you will be introduced to him as a bartender/manager, a job he is holding down to pay the bills until he can get his license and his right to bear arms back.
However, it is soon apparent that Charlie is not the type of man to sit back and wait for things to happen and has a fairly interesting past of his own which he now finds he has time to persue. What Charlie really wants is to find out the real facts surrounding his policeman fathers suicide when he was a kid, and even more pressingly, why his father killed a young couple who were quite clearly unarmed.
By uncovering these buried secrets, Charlie seems to be also uncovering something very sinister. Why is there a mysterious couple following Charlie? And how is it possible that this couple have been after him since before he was born? Charlie is suddenly very aware that everything that has happened has a very direct connection to him...
"The Lovers" by John Connolly is unlike anything that I have ever read before. I am tempted to put it into the horror category of books but it has such a different sense of style and encompasses so many different genres that it would be wrong to pigeon-hole it. As well as horror, there is thriller, mystery, crime and a very great deal of the paranormal all rolled into Charlie's very sad and very intriguing past. This really won't be for everyone; the paranormal element might just be a step too far but I in fact found the whole story woven around these ghostly "lovers" very interesting. It does take a while to get into the swing of the story, as I've mentioned, this book is part of a series that follows Charlie Parker, and although it is fairly easy to follow, it is a shame that not more is explained to the uninitiated.
Since reading the book, I have realised that Dublin born John Connolly is a well loved and well known author - especially in the U.S. I have said that I was "tempted" to put this book firmly in the horror genre and I should imagine, from what I have read from fan reviews, that I would get a roll of the eyes for this. Quite clearly, fans of Connolly believe his writing IS horror and that passing readers believe they are reading crime fiction. The fact remains that this book has a very dark element, almost an undercurrent of something very disturbing which would suggest a horror theme. Although I couldn't say that this book is really in the horror camp of books, there is a certain creepy quality about the writing and story that made me get chills even in 47 degree heat lying on a beach in Turkey! I think the distinction here between what Connolly does and other horrors is the subtlety of it - having said that, I have only ever read one horror book and that was so scary I'm not sure I'd pick one up again! This one however, is written with intelligence, and the horror is more psychological than graphic which may well be the reason behind my logic!
Although most will disagree, a lot of the story reverts back to classic crime fiction, with Charlie investigating and speaking to various people who knew his father and can explain what happened. We don't just see Charlies role either - some characters who were friends of his fathers have their story to tell and added to that there appears to be a young woman who is also being "chased" by some kind of ghoulish couple. This story is played out and woven into Charlie's story which makes it a deliciously tension filled book; obviously there was some kind of connection and I looked forward to finding out what that was.
Something has quite literally just struck me whilst typing and I have had to delete the sentence I was about to write. I was going to say that although the big questions are answered by the end of the book, none of them explained the relationship to Charlie as fully as I expected. I wanted to know why Charlie was being chased, what his connection was, I just didn't get it. However, a light bulb has surely gone on above my head whilst typing that has made me look at his involvement in a different light - those who have read the book would probably think Im a bit dim in not realising it before now! It has taken me almost three weeks to realise the connection. I could be wrong but it's an interesting conclusion if what I am guessing is right. What I will tell you is that I hope there are follow ups to this book as it is an interesting aspect that I hope is explored.
I was interested to read from another review that "if you are new to Charlie Parker then please start at the beginning and work your way to this book... Without that history this book would be much weaker as...tying up several loose ends in dramatic and unexpected fashion whilst at the same time unravelling a few other areas of mystery..." I am now tempted to go back to the beginning and discover for myself the excitement that Connolly seems to have inspired in so many of his readers.
If someone who has read all the books thinks that me not reading them all has weakened this story, then I'm impressed. For me, this was a unique book with some interesting ideas and a gripping, creepy storyline and that is before knowing all Charlie Parkers deep, dark secrets from previous books. The thought that more remarkable things will crop up from Charlie Parker and co is very appealing indeed. I'm yet to look up what these books are called and how many there are, but suffice to say, I shall be doing so soon!
The Lovers by John Connolly was released the middle of last year but I've only just got round to buying it. Charlie Parker has been stripped of his Private Investigator licence and his weapons licence so he's just killing time working in a bar, unable to investigate any crimes. His mind turns to the suicide of his father after he shot and killed two teenagers for seemingly no reason and he decides to investigate his past and try to figure out why his father shot the teenagers. During his investigation into his past he learns why his father shot them, more about his roots and in part why he attracts evil wherever he goes. This time it's definitely personal.
His partners in crime, Angel and Louis really take a backseat in this book and barely feature as it's very much about Charlie and his past. He returns to his former family home and finds out someone else is following his progress and seems to want to stop him from learning the truth. Who are all the mysterious people that pop up in this book and what do they want with Charlie?
I can tell you without spoiling anything we still don't know what they want with Charlie! I think for the entire mystery of Charlie Parker's life to be wrapped up that quickly would be an unfortunate mistake by the author and he did well not to tie up all the loose ends. We are left with some knowledge at the end of this book but I suspect the remaining question of why so many people want Charlie dead is probably going to turn out to be the finale in the series.
This book has a huge amount of other world aspects to it too, John Connolly always has some undercurrent of spirits, good and bad, but this book is full to the brim of weirdness but it all seems necessary to explain some of Charlie's past dealings with evil from another dimension. Alot of previous encounters he has had start to make a degree of sense after reading this book.
His journey takes him back to the old cop buddies of his father and we often read snippets of what happened on that fateful day through their eyes which is great, just the way it should have been done. Charlie's past is alot darker than he ever imagined but he still doesn't really know why these elements keep affecting him.
This book had me gripped from the start, I love John Connolly's work and how he blends the violence and evil of men with the darker and far more powerful evil of spirits. His books always leave you with a little eerie chill and there are usually a few bits that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up as you read them. This one is particularly eerie and far more spirit orientated than any of the others I've read. The title? It's explained in the story so I can't tell you why it's called The Lovers!
I think this storyline had to happen at some point because Charlie has always had a curious mysterious streak that has never been explained and sooner or later we needed to know this amount of background about him. From this point on us readers will always be on the lookout for certain evil predators that we now know are out to get him and are drawn to him and I'm sure they will feature again soon.
Personally I like the addition of Angel and Louis in these books so I missed them on this occasion but they couldn't really play much of a part in helping Charlie find out the truth so I understand why they weren't present for most of it.
I highly recommend this to anyone who likes dark thrillers with a touch of the supernatural about them. In fact if you like the sound of this one I recommend going back and reading the others first as they are all excellent in their own right but do follow on from each other. I bought my copy for £3.85 from Amazon and I'm glad I bought it rather than borrowed it as I suspect I will read it again in the future. Thoroughly recommended and a full 5 stars from me!
The Lovers, by Dublin-born crime writer John Connolly, is the eigth novel to feature former Police Detective and now former Private Eye, Charlie "Bird" Parker along with his occasional associates, the deadly and enigmatic Angel and Louis, who took centre-stage in The Reapers but whom, in turn, here take more of a back seat to all that occurs. Just as Reapers delved deep into the murky past of the former hit-man, Louis and to a lesser extent that of the reformed burglar, Angel, so The Lovers takes us straight into Charlie Parker's own back-story. Long before fans ever knew of him, Parker's father (also a cop) gunned down two unarmed civilians in a parking lot. Returning home, he confessed to his wife, Parker's mum, before eating his own gun in the garage outside. This much we have always known; what no one, including, Charlie, ever knew was why? Now, following the loss of his Private Investigator's license at the end of The Unquiet and the revelations revealed by the mysterious "Collector" that not both his parents were blood-related, Parker begins the hardest investigation of them all ~ an investigation into his own family and all that befell them to make Parker the man he is today. If he is indeed a man at all.......
But Parker is not the only one showing such an interest. A hack Crime-writer-turned true-crime author seeks to make Parker the subject of his next book whether Charlie wishes to co-operate or not; his intrest intrigued by the number of unsavoury characters that have crossed Parker's path recently, only to leave in a body-bag. And then there are the two mysterious figures that have dogged the lives of Charlie and his father for years known only in religious circles as "The Lovers". Who are they? Are they really more of The Fallen Angels they believe themselves to be and what do they have in mind for Parker and those around him? There is only one way to find out and trust this reviewer, it is going to get nasty!
If you have never read one of Connolly's books before, the revelations of Charlie's past, both ancient and more recent, flow thick and fast and may confuse new-comers to this series. Likewise the theological over-tones and more paranormal elements of the story that are becoming harder and harder to ignore might come across as being a little heavy-handed at times. But also, this latest novel could equally be seen as a great introduction to Charlie Parker's dark and troubled world and, with no new Parker books until next year at least, will give newer fans not just a taste of what to expect from Connolly's work but also ample chance to pick-up his back catalogue that begins with Every Dead Thing then speed-dials through to last year's The Reapers and this latest offering from someone who is rapidly becoming a very seriously disturbing writer!
The whole running theme of Good Verses Evil continues here in the same vein as it has through all Connolly's books and is just as murky and unrestrained as fans have come to expect. Parker is not a nice guy to be around at times, this much is true, and he has had his many and unrelenting faults in the past. Still it could seemsas though he may have been chosen to earn his redemption the hard way by striking a blow for some over-seeing controlling force in the universe against nefarious agents of evil that have existed possibly for millenia. Even if you are not religious, there is much in these novels that makes you think and question your faith and the evolution of mankind's society on Earth whilst still enabling the reader to discount everything if they wish, as the dis-illusioned ramblings of some overly obsessive cult or the delusions of one man still distraught over the destruction of one family and the seperation of another. His latest love, Rachel, turns up at several points in this latest narrative but it soon becomes clear that whatever was between them once is now over and whilst this is a shame, the shock return at this novel's climax of a character from one of Connolly's earlier novels leaves much room for speculation as to what lies in store for him next.....
Overall, this is Connolly's best Parker novel yet and, whilst it may feel to waiting fans as though not much of consequence actually happens here, still there is enough revelation of hidden skeletons in the closet and forgotten secrets to keep even the most critical of his readers at least temporarily satisfied. Connolly's next book is a stand-alone in the style of The Book Of Lost Things and Bad Men, neither of which I am a paticular fan of, so I will more than likely give this a miss. Connolly's next Parker book is due sometime in 2010, so I think I prefer to wait with baited breath and much anticipation for this instead.....
Horror crime fiction has never been written so excellently or imaginatively.......