Here’s the thing: I’ve been reading Bad Blood and I was in the mood for some retribution, so I switched to Connolly’s Charlie Parker series. Being more than a bit skittish with torture-porn, the title stirred some misgivings, but I can’t skip a book this late in the game. To absolutely no one’s surprise, much of the book seems to center on torture. While that’s not unusual for Connolly, what is unusual is the extent of it as a leitmotif in many variations. This, apparently, allows Parker to become a hunter of evil.
I mean, I get it. You aren’t going to use a vengeful fallen angel on just any old embezzler or murderer, right? But the book opens with a peek into the head of the current home of an evil spirit who resides in a man who really gets his groove on by torturing the survivors of missing persons. Parker & Co. pay a visit, seeking some information. We then move on to a bar, where a woman is picking up a man, the mark for her three-person team, but little does she know that the tables will be turned. Parker is then visited by a heroic ex-con who wants justice against those who set him up, and who have likely ‘disappeared’ two of the people he saved. Is he a genuine hero or a pedophile or both?
Meanwhile, we are checking in with a small town and a small boy who lives with his mother and grandmother and who has a talent for seeing things he shouldn’t. There’s a very tightly knit family at the center of a large piece of property and they have no tolerance for trespassers–or anything that might draw legal attention their way. Yes, yes; Parker runs into yet another cult.
The beginning is rather distressing for those with low torture tolerance (me) and may require some skimming. But it’s still written well, and if it isn’t fun, at least the reader knows there will be punishment. But the Evil does seem to get out of control in this book, mostly because the sheer preponderance of the ways people can inflict torture on each other (really; if I can’t think of one that wasn’t used, it’s because I don’t want to brainstorm), but also because doesn’t come close to being balanced with Parker, Lewis or Angel, all of whom carry their own kinds of darkness.
The narrative and plot unify in the last half of the book; in the Acknowledgements, Connolly calls it an ‘odd book,’ and I’m inclined to agree, because it feels more patchwork than it ought for the first third (quiet about my math). A slight bit touching on the supernatural as always. Does it progress our knowledge? Only slightly, to note Parker’s role is no longer tortured, but purposeful.