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Friday, June 19, 2009

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

Official John Connolly Website

Order "The Lovers" HERE

John Connolly is back with another Charlie Parker novel in "The Lovers". This is book seven of the Charlie Parker series & the ninth book to feature this spectrally-troubled character. The US Atria book edition is 341 pages long & is divided into five parts. It has thirty five chapters with a prologue & epilogue.

The book has both first person & third person narratives. Charlie always narrates throughout the series & the tradition is continued in this book. The other characters which are featured in the series books have third person POV's & in this case the notable ones are Mickey Wallace, Emily Kindler with several minor characters having smaller POV parts.

This book is almost a direct sequel to the "Unquiet" in terms of the story continuation & revelations by an enigmatic character called the "Collector" at the end of that one. The previous book by John Connolly was "The Reapers" and it was a one-off "Louie & Angel" book though Parker was featured in it too. "The Reapers" was more a rip-roaring darkly humorous thriller than the usual Charlie Parker novel. This one however brings the reader back to the original mould & then some.

The story begins with Parker examining his current situation & his predicament due to the nature of events that have happened in the "Unquiet". So while he cannot take any professional case, he decides to look into his own past, spurred by some intriguing words from the Collector.

Mickey Wallace formerly a reporter, has started writing true-crime books which have been moderately successful, so he decides to write a biography of Charlie Parker and the various events surrounding his life since the death of his wife and child. Emily Kindler is a girl who is tormented by her past & seems to be escaping from something which does not want to let her go & is steadily gaining on her.

The book starts out with a murder in a small mid-western town and from there it moves to Parker who contemplates visiting his childhood hometown & two of his dad's best friends. Mickey Wallace hounds him in order to get his approval and help with the biography. Last in their appearance there are the two individuals which are the Titular Characters; however their origin & identity is a mystery which Parker will have to solve in order to survive.

There is also a cameo appearance from a character starring in John's solo non-Charlie Parker thriller (technically, Parker had a cameo in that novel but it was just a walk-on part). Does this mean a newer tangent in Parker's life? Only John can answer that question for us in the next book "The Whisperers".

The book is superbly written by John Connolly. It triumphantly weaves the angst felt by Parker as he struggles to contemplate his origins and the mystery of his father's death. This installment clearly nudges the series firmly into the Noir-Urban fantasy side of speculative fiction as in the earlier books ["The Black Angel & White Road"] the readers were given hints and possibilities about the world, however nothing concrete was offered and the audience was left to draw its own conclusions.

This book changes the setup entirely and the revelations contained make the series even more exciting as the reader gets an idea as to where Charlie Parker has come from & what truly has happened to his father. However the future direction is still quite uncertain. This book has a little less humor than its predecessor, moving back to the darker side of the literary spectrum.

John Connolly's writing skills are his forte along with his lyrical prose & dark humor which gets an outlet in the form of various characters [ Angel, Louis, The Fulcis...] What differentiates him from the other writers writing thrillers & urban fantasies is that he strides the fine line between a realistic detective fiction world and a magical urban fantasy one. You are not entirely sure that what is seen may be entirely as it seems.

His books have always been slightly tinged by melancholy since the first book opened with the deaths of Parker's wife and child. The greatest ability of any author is to make the reader not only sympathize but also empathize with his characters and in this I feel that John Connolly triumphs as we can often feel the pain & the unfairness in the world which Parker tries to pyrrhically correct.

"The Lovers" is another excellent entry in the Charlie Parker series & while it can be read as a standalone, it would be good to read it after "The Unquiet" as it is almost a direct follow-up to it. Also it might be an even better idea to start with the earlier titles to find out the story so far. The future awaits for Charlie Parker in "The Whisperers" and I'm sure that once you do read "The Lovers", you will be queuing up for that as well.


Mihir Wanchoo is a physician in Houston, TX who has aspirations of getting his book published in the future. When he is not busy working, studying and trying-to-write, he is blissfully lost in the worlds of Jeffrey Deaver, James Rollins/Clemens, David Gemmell, John Connolly, Sarah Ash, George R.R. Martin, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, and many others...


Fabio Fernandes said...

Mihir, you have the quality of making me want to read books I´d never even think of picking in a bookshelf. Good review!

The Reader said...

Hi Fabio

Thanks! coming from you I'm going to take it as huge compliment, if I may suggest, you can start with "The Black Angel" by John Connolly as Its one of his best & can be read as a standalone.

You can also definitely start from "Every Dead Thing" I hope you enjoy as much as I do :)


Anonymous said...

I love Connolly's writing and I am reading The Lover's currently after just finishing The Reapers this afternoon. My only qualm is while trying to read the series in order I missed the Novella in Nocturnes that introduced the Collector. I'm about 150 pages into The Lovers now and am highly enjoying it. I would love to see the fallen angels from The Black Angel as well as the Hollow Men to reappear somewhere in the future. In the meantime I'm enjoying this wonderful tour into The Bird's Past.


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