Competent dark offering

2010-08-11 00:00

JOHN Connolly has built up a huge readership for his thrillers featuring private eye Charlie Parker that blend supernatural elements in with the detection. It might seem an odd mix, but don’t forget that even Sherlock­ Holmes, the more or less original private eye, investigated at least a couple of cases with apparently supernatural origins — the Baskerville hound and the Sussex vampire — while William Hope Hodgson’s Holmes­ clone Carnacki also got out his magnifying glass to examine the ectoplasm in a spine-tingling series of tales.

In The Whisperers Parker is hired to investigate the suicide of an Iraq War veteran and in the process uncovers a smuggling operation between the United States and Canada. Intercutting with his inquiries are the dark doings of a villain, who is busy decomposing on the spot, named Herod who, like Parker, is able to tap into another world. There are even darker forces at work which readers of Connolly’s previous books will know. In fact, dark is probably about the best way to describe this book. So unless you’re up for Ian Rankin meets Stephen King, consider yourself warned.

I wasn’t totally convinced by the blend, but Connolly writes more than competently, although his attempts at witty one-liner dialogue tend to fall flat. Incidentally, The Whisperers comes with a CD containing music that Connolly played in the background while writing. It’s an eclectic mix of 13 tracks, including offerings from Magnolia Electric Company, Shack, Spiritualized and Nancy Sinatra. Long after putting the book down I have yet to stop playing it.

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