Shockingly good tales of the macabre
Thriller: Night Music: Nocturnes Volume 2, John Connolly, Orion, tpbk, 436 pages, €20.99
Rialto-born John Connolly has had resounding success worldwide with his supernaturally tinged crime novels set in the US state of Maine featuring the haunted private eye Charlie Parker.
Connolly, an avid reader of horror from an early age, admits to having read 50 Stephen King novels and in this, his second collection of ghostly and demonic short fiction, he indulges his penchant for the macabre to great effect.
The book leads off with a masterly novella, 'The Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository', in which a reclusive bibliophile finds a house that seems to encapsulate everything he loves about his favourite characters in literature. He mines the same theme in 'Holmes on the Range', while another story, 'The Hollow King', harks back to Connolly's wonderfully revisionist and totally scary stand-alone 2006 novel The Book of Lost Things, which subverted many of our favourite fairytales.
'The Blood of the Lamb' is set firmly in pre-Vatican Council Ireland and charts the concerns of a couple and their parish priest about their daughter, delivering a spine-tingling shock in the final paragraph. Connolly writes beautifully, in a style that harks back to the masters of the genre like Poe and James. Yet one of the most effective stories in this collection, 'A Dream of Winter', delivers all the menace, evil and terror a great supernatural tale should contain in exactly 300 words. Shockingly good.