Archive for September, 2016

Book Review- “A Time of Torment” by John Connolly

September 10, 2016 Leave a comment

(I try to keep my reviews as spoiler free, but when you’re talking about the 13th entry in a series that isn’t always possible. So this is just a warning if you’re not caught up on the Charlie Parker series, turn back now. There are some spoilers about the endings of previous novels in the series, but this review of “A Time of Torment” is spoiler free.)

time-of-tormentPart of the reason why I love John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series of novels is the fact that they’re essentially the literary equivalent of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in that they combine two great tastes that taste great together: crime and horror. He’s been doing that since he began the series in 1999 and with each novel he took readers deeper and deeper into a larger supernatural epic. It’s been a hugely satisfying journey.

Now that we’re here, Connolly faces another challenge with his Charlie Parker novels: providing a story that serves as a fascinating sort of one off case for Parker and his associates while also deepening the long form supernatural epic tale that has started to take shape in recent years. It’s a similar challenge faced by television writers and if his most recent novel, “A Time of Torment,” is any indication Connolly is more than up to the challenge.

“A Time of Torment” picks up with Charlie Parker in the awesome status quo we saw him in at the end of the last novel “A Song of Shadows”: recovered from his near fatal shooting at the end of book 11 and seemingly stronger than ever. He, Louis, and Angel are being proactive in their hunt for some very bad and possibly supernaturally tainted people. They’re also being assisted and paid by an FBI agent who may be part of a larger cabal aware that the stage is being set for something apocalyptic and Parker, his friends, and family have a specific role to play the coming event.

So in “A Time of Torment” Connolly serves up plenty of hints to his larger, epic story. You get some answers to questions about certain characters and larger and even more exciting questions are raised. You even get the perspective of a character who’s been part of the series for a while, but you’ve never really been given a lot of their point of view. In “A Time of Torment” you get to spend some time with this character and see things through their eyes. It lead to some fun and some chilling scenes.

The case Parker, Louis, and Angel also become involved with is both powerful and ImageHandler.ashxchilling. It involves a client who in a chance encounter at a gas station chose to be a hero and saved the lives of some innocent people, but in doing so he crossed the wrong people and paid a huge price. It’s a powerful crime set up and a great use of existential horror.

It also leads to some interesting new characters. Parker’s client Jerome Burel is a tragic and very sympathetic character. Once you meet him and hear his whole story you’ll be invested in the tale and rooting for Parker, Angel, and Louis to get him their special brand of brutal and sort of cleansing justice.

That quest for justice will lead to a county in West Virginia that’s populated with some interesting and fascinating characters that include the county Sheriff, a young African American boy, and the book’s villains. You do get to spend some time with the book’s villains and they are quite vile. You’ll root for them to brought down, but not everything is black and white. Connolly shows you some of the book’s villains are viler than others. They’re nuanced characters. I’m speaking generally because I don’t want to spoil anything for readers.

So in “A Time of Torment” Connolly expertly juggles a lot of different things: his regular cast, his ongoing story, and a new tale involving a whole host of nuanced and fully fleshed out characters. The end result is another deeply satisfying read that’s powerful, creepy, exciting, and a heck of a lot of fun. You also get another great final scene that will leave you very eager for the next Parker novel.