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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"The Whisperers" by John Connolly (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


Official John Connolly Website
Order "The Whisperers" HERE
Read an Excerpt from the Novel
Read FBC Review of The Gates
Read FBC Review of The Lovers

AUTHOR INFORMATION: John Connolly is a writer who has studied English at Trinity College, Dublin and journalism at Dublin City University. He has had a bevy of jobs before working five years as a freelance journalist for The Irish Times, to which he currently contributes to. This is 14th book since his debut in 1999. Read a contributed article by Mihir Wanchoo on John Connolly's work HERE.

PLOT SUMMARY: The border between Maine and Canada is porous. Anything can be smuggled across it: drugs, cash, weapons, people! Now a group of disenchanted former soldiers has begun its own smuggling operation, and what is being moved is infinitely stranger and more terrifying than anyone can imagine. Anyone, that is, except private detective Charlie Parker, who has his own intimate knowledge of the darkness in man's heart.

But the soldiers' actions have attracted the attention of the reclusive Herod, a man with a taste for the strange. And where Herod goes, so too does the shadowy figure that he calls the Captain. To defeat them, Parker must form an uneasy alliance with a man he fears more than any other, the killer known as the Collector ...

CLASSIFICATION: John Connolly's books combine the noir quality of thrillers with the mystical aspect of horror books, to make a sub-genre of their own.

FORMAT/INFO: The ARC I received had a page count of 394 pages divided over thirty-nine chapters(spread out into four parts) along with a prologue and epilogue. Narration is in the first-person via Charlie Parker and in the third person for the remaining characters such as Herod, Joel Tobias, the Collector and Karen Emory with the narrative alternating each chapter between the Parker and the rest. The plot is self-contained and this book can be read as a standalone. However there are some references to the previous books as well.

ANALYSIS: John Connolly's "The Whisperers" is the 8th book in the Charlie Parker series. This book is set after the events of "The Lovers". Charlie Parker is content with his life and has regained his private eye license. He is a bit disillusioned by his encounters with his past and the Lovers who were hunting him in last year's book.

He takes a case which has been offered to him by Bennett Patchett who wants him to investigate a trucker, Joel Tobias who is also dating Karen Emory, an employee of Patchett. Joel seems to have lots of cash in spite of his modest working conditions. Charlie's investigations seem to reveal a man who has suspicious origins and even more suspicious job details. Also fueling his investigations is the fact that Bennett Patchett's son Damien committed suicide, and even more curious was his association with Joel Tobias as they shared the same unit in Iraq.

Similarly on this lead is another person who goes by the name of Herod and who is also searching for something which has been stolen from him. Their paths are meant to collide however before that is to happen. There's also the enigmatic re-appearance of the Collector whose intent is still unknown. However he continues on his own purposes to "collect" items from his selected targets. Charlie tries to follow Joel and is partially successful. Before he can make any new moves he is targeted by people who mistake his intent, leading to one of the most harrowing scenes written by Connolly. This begins a brutal chase of an item which also had caught Herod's eye and who seems to want it more than anyone else.His search is also aided by a particular figure known to him as the Captain, who also shares an active interest in Parker. Amidst all these tangled threads lies the plot of the Whisperers.

John Connolly has chosen to weave two elements: The trauma of war veterans with smuggling of various items. Connolly has done an excellent job with these elements in particular, the very vulnerable picture of these soldiers. The other element that of smuggling of items, is done through the introduction of a lost Sumerian artifact which the title of this story focuses upon. This new introduction of artifacts was done in an effort to give a more mystical/horror edge to the stories. While both elements worked from a writing standpoint and both worked as separate elements their fusion do not come across as smoothly as Connolly would have envisaged.

As a fan of Connolly's books I was enthralled by the book up until the very end. However, enthralling this book was it did not reach the high standards that I have come to expect after reading some of his more spectacular stories such as "The Reapers", "The Black Angel" and "The Lovers".

While I can recommend The Whispers to any newcomer to Connolly's works, as well as to fellow Connolly fans. I would have to say that hard core fans should be prepared that it
might not be as pulchritudinous as we have come to expect.

6 comments:

Tahlia said...

Pulchritudinous? You lost me there. Thanks for the review though, it really gives me a clear idea.

I just found your blog and wanted to contact you, but couldn’t see where, so I’m putting this here. I thought that you might like to see ch 1 of my new YA fantasy novel, 'Lethal Inheritance’ at http://publishersearch.wordpress.com/lethal-inheritance/
I’d love to know what you think of it.

Croaker said...

Having just finished reading The Whisperers last night, I have to agree with you that it doesn't quite live up to the standards raised by The Reapers and The Black Angel.

However, The Whisperers is still a solid entry in the series and fans of Charlie Parker will have a great time devouring it just like I did :)

Sarah said...

You know, I've never read anything by John Connolly, but this review intrigues me, which means I'll probably be investigating some books of his to read fairly soon.

The Reader said...

@Tahlia

Thanks for your kind words, if you look at the blog at the top corner on the left, there's a contact option which lists the email, Facebook & twitter page. Also if it helps here's the FBC email Fantasybookcriticblog@gmail.com

I'll definitely give chap. 1 a read, thanks for the link.

@Croaker

Good to hear from you, The Whisperers was good however it just lacked that "something" which didn't make it a great read for me. Its felt like John was returning back to his horror roots from "Bad Men" however unlike BM, this one just fell short at the conclusion.

However the best part about this book was the portrayal of the ex-soldiers and the trauma they face after returning. This was the highlight of the book for me besides the Collector's enigmatic last words!

@Laura

Thank you for your comments & I'm glad to hear you'll be trying John's books. If you would like to start from the beginning of the series, you should try "Every Dead Thing".

If you would like to read a standalone-ish book, then go ahead for "The Black Angel" [Techinically its the 5th in the series, however can be read as a standalone]

Lastly if you want to read one of his best books, then give "The Book of Lost things" a shot.

Mihir

Anonymous said...

Hey! Just read The Whisperers. I loved it! But I didn't understand one thing. The box, that made the soldiers take their own lives, what exactly was its intention? Why exactly did the soldiers commit suicide?
Pls help!

The Reader said...


@ Anon.

Since this was nearly 3 years ago, my memory is a bit hazy. Also MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!!!



If I recall correctly the box held an entity/demon that wanted to be out and needed a specific type of soul to contain it. In regards to the suicides, I think it was a combination of PTSD, impending madness and/or the box's magic.

Mihir

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