Every Dead Thing by John Connolly (Charlie Parker #1)

I’ve first read Every Dead Thing some 10 years ago, right after reading John Connolly‘s standalone novel The Book Of Lost Things, at a time when bibliomysteries were a favorite genre of mine. I enjoyed that book a lot and soon went off to find other novels the author has written.

And I’ve discovered Charlie Parker. After reading a few books in the series, I sort of lost touch with this hero and went on to other books. The case with too many books and too little time to read them all.

When I saw that the author has published his latest Charlie Parker novel, I wanted to read it, but I knew that  I have some real catching up to do, because I am a stickler for reading the books in a series in order, and because I remembered that there is an underlying story with the main character, about his darkness that surrounds him more and more from book to book and about his stronger ties with the supernatural which unfolds rather gradually.

Since I didn’t remember much about Every Dead Thing and I knew I had a few other books I haven’t yet read, I got my old paperback copy and read it again, so I could refresh my memory on what it was all about.  I decided that I will read the whole series back to back this summer, without fail.

Charlie Parker is an ex-cop with a heavy baggage to carry. Some time ago his wife and little daughter were brutally tortured and murdered. And if that was not enough, it was at a time when he was a major drunk – and what more, the night of the murder he spent his hours at his favorite pub getting wasted, because of a fight he had with Susan, his wife, before.

Upon staggering home drunk, he notices the door open and realizes that something is very wrong in his house. But what he finds in the kitchen will slowly define him as the truly changed person he will become from then on. The wife and child’s bodies are horribly mutilated, with the eye sockets removed and their skins flayed, set up in ritualistic poses.

With the images haunting his dreams and his every waking moment, he can’t cope with being a cop any longer and leaves the force to become a PI, where he takes on a job to track down a missing girl. Soon the job becomes something much more, when he realizes that there is a vicious unscrupulous killer on the run, hunting for small children.

The job gets him close to the mob and on the road to Louisiana, where he also gets a few glimpses of something that might just be related to his murdered family. His family’s elusive killer is called The Traveling Man, and Charlie Parker in his inner musings calls him something akin to a demon.

The are really two main stories in the book, his search for the children’s killer, the case which he eventually solves with the help of his two good delinquent friends, Angel and Louis, a very unlikely couple who really grew on me.

Normally I would have expected the book to end here, with the final, albeit very dark resolution of this case. But it seems The Traveling Man had something else to say about the matter, because his next victims are some very dear friends of Charlie, with the intent of drawing him in to cat and mouse spiel all again.

I often had the feeling that I was reading two books, which I was glad about because I didn’t want the story to end. At close to 500 pages and two main (albeit slightly intersecting) story lines, I had lots of delightful (and many sad and heart wrenching) moments of reading.

The only reason I lowered the rating from 5 stars to 4.5 is because I don’t care much for mob related books. Don’t get me wrong, it was not the major topic of the novel, but the beginning sure seemed like it. I even fully skipped a particular chapter which told the story of a gangster rising to power, because I didn’t much care for that type of history. Unlike my husband who dotes on books and movies about the mafia, my tastes lie someplace else.

But soon I got so engrossed in the story that the part with the mob got forgotten – and in fact towards the end there was an interesting scene where Charlie Parker got in between a mob war just to get his answers.

The writing style of the author is what drew me in the first time and this time around as well. He has an almost poetic way with words, while keeping the suspense, terror and the elements of supernatural well going. I can’t wait to read again the second book and then start with the rest so I can follow Bird’s next adventures, but not the least because I want to read more about Angel and Louis. Those two guys could steal a show all on their own, which I’ve heard that they do in fact, in one of the latest Charlie Parker novels.

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