Sunday, January 26, 2014

PIs in Fiction: Charlie 'Bird' Parker

Charlie Parker is a fairly troubled character in the set of novels written by Irish author John Connolly, set mostly around New England and Maine in particular.

We meet Parker, an ex-cop, shortly after his wife and young daughter are brutally murdered. He suffers from 'survivor guilt' having been absent from home at the time of the murders, guilt for carrying on an affair while he should have been the attentive family man - although this was an affair with the bottle rather than with another woman.

While the murders forms the backdrop of the first novel, Every Dead Thing, several months have passed and Parker has managed to clean up his act to some degree. 

And things generally go downhill from there.

It's not your typical detective fiction, that's for sure, as there is a strong supernatural element intertwined in the novels. (Supernatural horror, not sparkly vampires and shit). However, this element slowly unfolds and takes greater prominence as the novels progress, as Parker himself comes to learn of, or decipher, the events that have occurred around him and the forces that are at play.

It's pretty dark.

And that's an understatement.

So far there are 12 novels in the series, as follows:

  1. Every Dead Thing
  2. Dark Hollow
  3. The Killing Kind
  4. The White Road
  5. The Black Angel
  6. The Unquiet
  7. The Reapers
  8. The Lovers
  9. The Whisperers
  10. The Burning Soul
  11. The Wrath of Angels
  12. The Wolf in Winter (due for release in February)
They won't be for everyone's tastes. There is a lot of violence, Parker has very few qualms at killing, and generally good people come to very bad ends. But then again, so do bad people.

My only real complaint is how the characters of Angel and Louis are portrayed. Semi-retired criminals, loyal friends to Parker, they frequently are on hand to help out when needed. They are a gay couple - more like a gay Odd Couple - but their inclusion almost seems to be relegated as 'comic relief'.

Could just be the way I'm reading it though.

Anyway, Connolly has successfully managed to merge two usually disparate genres of fiction and has made it work and if you haven't already had the pleasure, I recommend that you try him.

I don't think you will be disappointed.      

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