Book Review- “The Wrath of Angels”
When I first started reading John Connolly’s series of novels about police man turned private detective Charlie Parker I was under the impression that I was going to be getting some cool crime fiction tales about P.I. up against some of the worst criminals imaginable. I got that, but I also got something a little more intriguing. Just below the surface there was a bubbling undercurrent of supernatural horror. It was also almost implied, you weren’t sure if the horror elements were real or a product of Parker’s grief stricken mind.
As the series progressed that undercurrent began to bubble even faster and eventually reached a boil in 2009’s “The Lovers,” one of my favorite books in the series. It was there where after wading into the supernatural horror swimming pool that Connolly finally took his readers into deep end. After that we were given two books that had supernatural elements, but did not add to the larger tale that Connolly had been telling about Parker’s battle against beings that may or may not be fallen angels and the shadowy figures that supported them. These books were entertaining, but they didn’t contain the payoffs I was looking for. I’m happy to report though Connolly’s latest Charlie Parker novel, “The Wrath of Angels” was all I was hoping it would be and more.
In “The Wrath of Angels” Parker is hired to find a plane that crashed deep in the Maine woods several years back. Sounds fairly mundane right? Wrong! It’s believed that wreckage of the plane contains a list of people who have struck deals with the devils
This means that more people then Parker are interested in the list. In “The Lovers” Connolly introduced a Rabbi named Epstein who hunts fallen angels with the help of a private army. He returns in “The Wrath of Angels” and wants to use the list to strike a blow for righteousness. The Collector, the fearsome and vengeful serial killer that Connelly introduced back in a novella in his short story collection “Nocturnes” wants to use it to add to his collection and eliminate some evil doers. And of course the forces of darkness want to make sure none of them retrieve the list. That triangle makes ‘The Wrath of Angels” so much fun.
You of course get to spend your usual amount of time with Parker and his friends and comrades at arms the ex-hit man known as Louis and his lover the ex-burglar Angel. Regular readers of the series know that Louis and Angel are both awe inspiring bad-asses and provide the Parker books with some much needed comic relief. On top of that usual stuff though you get so many more cool and interesting insights.
For instance, you get to learn more about the past of Rabbi Epstein and his organization. What we learn there is so exciting and interesting that I wouldn’t mind reading a novel about the exploits of Epstein and his organization.
You also get to spend an extended amount of time with the Collector. Connolly gives you a peek inside this intriguing character’s background and how his world works. Those scenes just jumped off the page too.
Plus you’re given a lot more info about the fallen angels and the organization that supports them. There are some pretty creepy and cool revelations there that I won’t spoil, but let’s just say they’re an even more fearsome than I previously thought.
The shadowy organization lingers in the background of “The Wrath of Angels,” but they also send out two champions to deal with those trying to gain control of the list. One will be familiar to long time fans of the Parker series, and one is a creepy new villain. They’re not the only opposition either. The patch of Maine Woods where the crash plane lays is haunted by forces both living and dead.
So that mix of horror, action, revelations, and compelling characters makes for a hell of a read. “The Wrath of Angels” is one of the best entries in the Charlie Parker series, and not just because it’s an immensely satisfying read. It’s also because the book furthers the larger story Connelly is telling and sets up what could be an even more interesting and exciting next novel.