Sunday, January 29, 2012

Books: John Connolly; Tom Piccirilli

Dark Hollow by John Connolly It has been nearly a year since Charlie Parker's wife and daughter were murdered, a killing he avenged at the end of the first novel in this series, Every Dead Thing. Moving to his ancestral home in Maine, Parker gets a private investigator's license almost as an afterthought, spending most of his time fixing up his grandfather's old house and trying to heal his wounds. When he offers to speak to a husband overdue on child support on behalf of the struggling wife, he unwittingly comes into the crosshairs of the Boston mafia, who has recently been stung to the tune of two million dollars. Add to this the awakening of a long dormant serial killer and the fact that the daughter of his former best friend has gone missing nearby adds to Charlie Parker's troubles. The second book in the Parker series is a big one with Connolly juggling several plot-lines at once and doing a good job of it. Parker is trying to stay off the radar of the mafia, while looking for a deadbeat Dad the mafia is also chasing - and who also may be the illegitimate son of the newly awakened serial killer! The fact that this book reads well and is not nearly as contrived as I have described it is a testament to Connolly's skill as a writer and storyteller. Charlie Parker and his friends Angel and Louis continue to evolve as multi-dimensional characters, and the small amount of supernatural su
spense woven into the story is done well and deftly adds an extra sense of atmospheric texture to a fine story.

The Last Deep Breath by Tom Piccirilli When Grey's parents were killed in an automobile accident on an icy road, he is placed in an abusive foster home where he becomes close to his new "siblings," Pax and Ellie. When the tables are finally turned and Pax nearly beats the abusive foster father to death, the three agree to stay close as they enter the adult world. Pax and Grey stay in contact: Pax is a career soldier, while Grey gets booted from the military and drifts from job to job. One night, after years of silence, Grey finds his foster sister curled in an alleyway with a knife in her ribs. Keeping her fron death's door, Grey learns that she is a junkie on the run who quickly disappears again and launches Grey's cross-country quest to try and save her. Grey's capacity for violence is foreshadowed by the women he meets in his journey west, where each one offers money and sex in return for Grey killing their husband. When he meets up with an actress on the west coast he finally has the entre he needs, discovering that Ellie had been making low-grade pornographic films to feed her habit, starring with her beau who was billed as "Harvey Wallbanger and His Twelve-Inch Wonder of the World." With leads from pornographic film agents to gentlemen's clubs turning up empty, Grey races back to New York to finally confront what has happened to his foster sister and to learn her final secrets. Tom Piccirilli is a master of the noir style of writing, keeping the prose lean and focused while at the same time communicating a great deal of information about the characters and their circumstances. Grey, like all of Picirilli's great characters is a lost and lonely soul looking for one final chance at redemption before the world swallows him whole in its great chaotic maw.

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