Book Review- The Whisperers
Many of my friends know John Connolly from his novel “The Book of Lost Things”, but I haven’t read that yet. I discovered Connolly through his work on the Charlie Parker series of novels. They’re great reads that mix together the best elements of horror and private eye fiction for an always enjoyable cocktail.
The last entry in the Parker series, “The Lovers” was particularly enjoyable. That’s because for years after giving you scenes where the supernatural elements may or may not have been figments of characters’ imaginations Connolly plunged readers into the deep end of the supernatural pool with a story about his protagonist’s true origins. The revelations about Parker in “The Lovers” got me excited because they meant the series could go in some very interesting directions.
It doesn’t seem like Connolly is ready to head down those directions, at least not yet. Because “The Whisperers”, the latest Charlie Parker novel, is for the most part a standard entry in the series. That doesn’t mean it’s bad though, in fact I found it to be a pretty enjoyable read. I’m just really anxious for the next step in the series evolution.
In “The Whisperers” Parker gets hired to investigate an Iraq war vet whose been behaving strangely and waving around a suspicious amount of cash. As Parker investigates he discover the vet and his war buddies are part of an antiquities smuggling ring that has ties to the looting of the Iraq museum. One of the things that they have in their possession is a mysterious box that seems to whisper horrible things to those who posses it.
In “The Whisperers” Connolly gives us the usual mix of first person narration from Parker’s point of view, but he also gives us third person scenes from the perspectives of many other characters. Among these characters are Joel Tobias, the leader of the smuggling ring, and several of his comrades. These scenes are very compelling and poignant in that they give you a glimpse of characters who started off as doing bad things for all the right reasons, but greed stepped in to poison their endeavors. Parker also uses these characters to explore how the U.S. Government is failing the brave men and women who fought in Iraq and illustrates how when a man enters into something like war he’s in danger not just of physical death, but a spiritual one as well. Because the horrors of war can haunt a person long after a conflict is over and turn him into a nasty, broken shell of a human being.
The downside of following other characters is that we get to spend less time with Parker’s comrades Louis and Angel. The gay, black, republican assassin and his Latino thief lover are two of the best supporting characters in thriller and mystery fiction. And whenever they’re around you want to spend as much time as possible with them. Connolly does give readers a few neat scenes with Louis and Angel though.
Another character that Connolly further develops is the enigmatic Collector, a mysterious and supernatural seeming assassin who Parker has come up against before. In “The Whisperers” you learn a little more about who the Collector is and why he does what he does. He also sets up a final and very interesting revelation about Parker’s role in the battle against supernatural evil, which will hopefully set the stage for more supernatural revelations in the next book.
So “The Whisperers” isn’t the best Charlie Parker thriller, but it’s still entertaining and moves the series forward a little more into even more interesting territory. I anxiously await the next entry in the series.