Review: Thriller: The Wrath of Angels by John Connolly
Hodder & Stoughton €13.99, pbk, 480 pages
Available with free P&P on www.kennys.ie or by calling 091 709350
Like British thriller writing contemporaries Lee Child, whose principal character Jack Reacher is American, and Sean Black, author of the US Ryan Lock stories, all of Dublin-born thriller writer John Connolly's private investigator Charlie Parker's adventures are set in the United States.
The tough but conflicted private detective operates principally in the beautiful but sparsely inhabited state of Maine, though Parker has also hunted down evildoers in Louisiana, South Carolina and New York.
But it is in the small sea port of Portland that Charlie 'Bird' Parker, ex-New York cop now part-time barman, feels most comfortable, as does his creator, who once worked in Maine as a young man and owns a house there.
The Wrath of Angels is the 10th Charlie Parker mystery, and is set in the dense, wild and in parts deeply mysterious US Northern Forest that stretches from Maine through New Hampshire and Vermont to the Canadian border.
Packed with wildlife, including moose, deer and black bear, it provides a perfect backdrop for a chilling story of greed, murder and retribution.
Years before this story begins, a small plane had crashed deep in the woods. It was never reported missing, but men and women, both good and evil, had been seeking it for a long time.
When two lifelong friends out hunting deer stumble on the wreckage they find no bodies, just a suitcase packed with money and a list protected in a plastic envelope.
There is something deeply disturbing about the crash site and the surrounding area, so the men leave the list behind, take the money and don't tell a soul. Over the years they use the cash to do a little good and to supplement their meagre incomes.
Charlie Parker becomes reluctantly involved when Marielle Vetters, the daughter of one of the men, comes to him.
On his deathbed her father had told her the story. He had become convinced evil men and women were after the money and the list and he wanted Charlie to ensure the safety of his family.
Parker discovers that the list contains the names of powerful men and women who have struck deals with the Devil to advance themselves, and the dark side has sent some of the most frightful of its entities, creatures such as mass murderer John Brightwell, who Parker thought he had killed, to preserve the secret.
Another Parker nemesis, The Collector, a stone killer, makes his appearance, and Charlie and his back-up team of Louis and Angel are enmeshed in an evil conspiracy that seems insurmountable.
Few thriller writers can create a sense of menace and evil as deftly as Connolly does -- a couple of sentences are enough to readily suspend readers' disbelief and draw them willingly into his alternative universe where good battles evil endlessly with little certainty as to the eventual outcome.