Thursday 14 December 2017

Crime: A Time of Torment by John Connolly

Hodder & Stoughton €19.50

John Connolly's A Time of Torment
John Connolly's A Time of Torment

Anne Marie Scanlon

There are no bit parts in a John Connolly novel. No matter how lowly the player nor how brief their appearance, Connolly takes time to flesh them out and make them matter. This is only a part of what makes Connolly a master storyteller and A Time of Torment, his 14th outing with 'the detective' Charlie Parker, is as fresh and inventive as his first.

Parker has evolved over the course of all the intervening books and he is, in many ways, more unknowable and intriguing than ever.

Few, if any other, writers could weave action, thriller, social commentary, the supernatural and, at times, laugh out loud humour into a cohesive narrative but Connolly delivers all those and much more in A Time of Torment.

At the heart of the tale is 'The Cut', a community not unlike that of Prosperous in The Wolf in Winter, who live apart from the rest of society and operate by their own rules. (They're like a cross between the Amish and Jonestown.) The Cut answer to no one except the very strange entity that they worship - a being seldom heard of outside their world but greatly feared by the few who know of it.

The Cut fund their self-sufficiency with 'ranging' - raiding and robbing people who live outside their community. When Jerome Burnel unwittingly crosses the insular group, his entire life is upended and he is successfully framed for possessing child pornography.

When Burnel is released from jail, a broken man (in all senses), he knows he won't have long to live so he pre-emptively hires Charlie Parker to find out who, and why, he was set up.

Parker, along with regular companions Louis and Angel, delve into the strange community - there is redemption for some, death and damnation for others.

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