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100 Books in One Year: Every Dead Thing by John Connolly

By Brian Prisco | Books | March 24, 2009 |

By Brian Prisco | Books | March 24, 2009 |

Upon recommendation of Meister TK, I decided to peruse Connolly’s works. Almost all of TK’s recs have been disposable, pulpy action/thriller/mystery novels, so I tend to enjoy them. As much as I love biting into the heady dense literature of some of the deeper authors, there’s something to be said for some popcorn face smashers.

Connolly’s Charlie “Bird” Parker makes for an interesting hero. I’ve been reading a lot of detective series as of late, and as Dan Carlson and I have discovered, it is possible to fly for at least four hours while always watching an episode of “Law and Order,” so I’ve got sort of a taste for the macabre. Connolly delivers, if with a few grease spots on the paper bag. He reminds me of his homophonic contemporary Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series, except with a lot more gruesome violence — sort of Peter Straub-y. He has this strange tendency to fuck with his timeline, fracturing events and leaping all over the place with his story. It’s painfully distracting, but once you acclimate yourself to the jarring events, it’s pretty easy to sink your teeth into.

And Connolly doesn’t fuck around with plot. It’s a goddamn punt-your-nuts-into-your-stomach story. Parker sits on the porch of his home, where he came home drunk after a fight with his wife, only to find his daughter and wife butchered and layed out in a horrific tableau, with their faces cut from their corpses. It’s a hell of a way to open, but Connolly delivers it in almost dry scientific delivery as if he were also in shock. The story then goes from there with Parker leaving the force to become a detective who hunts down his family’s killer. Parker isn’t a very likable character, so when the love angle gets played, it’s less than believable. Also, the story is a bit choppy. It’s almost like watching two different cross-over cop shows back to back. It’s a pretty large unwieldy story, and it does get a little sloppy at times. But it’s still like watching the lesser non-Orbach “Law and Orders.” It’s not great, but it’s still damn good. And I will certainly be following this series further.

This review is part of the Cannonball Read series. Details are here and the growing number of participants and their blogs are here.