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August 1, 2008 / C.T. Henry

REVIEW: Every Dead Thing

Earlier this year I was stunned by John Connolly’s The Unquiet, which introduced me to P.I. Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker.  So far, it’s been the best mystery I’ve read in 2008.  Attracted to Connolly’s style of writing and the eerie, supernatural take on the modern P.I. novel, I decided to read the first book in his 6-book Parker series.

When you read Every Dead Thing, you get two books for the price of one.  This haunting thriller is written in two acts, which could easily have been two separate books; however, they work well together.  The first introduces you to ex-Detective Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker, and the second, shows you the depths that he will go to.  As the book opens, Parker’s wife and daughter are brutally murdered by a serial killer, known as the Traveling Man.  The descriptions of the violence are visceral and often repugnant.  This is not a story for the squeamish.  Connolly wants readers to understand why Parker believes that true Evil does exist.  At the beginning,  you can’t help but empathize with Parker.  His tragedy transforms him though, and that’s why he’s such a fascinating character.  The first act is about Parker’s search for a missing girl in New York.  In the second act, Parker chases the serial killer, who killed his white and daughter, to Louisiana, where the pace quickens and Parker confronts his worst nightmare.

In the end, the soulful way Connolly writes about morality and how Parker deals with the pain in his life are the main enticements of this first novel.  One may be put off by the level of violence or the vast number of names in the book, but Connolly can tell a story, and that’s why I can’t wait for the next Parker mystery.

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