Review

The Lovers

by John Connolly

It’s hard to classify or pigeonhole John Connolly. You
could say he writes mysteries, or thrillers, or horror novels, and
you would be right on all counts. He has this magnificent series of
books featuring a private investigator named Charlie Parker, who
has been doing a deadly dance with some frighteningly evil people
for over a decade now. THE LOVERS is the eighth of these works ---
nine if you want to count BAD MEN, on account of Parker’s
brief cameo --- and it shines new light on what has gone before
while setting things up for future books in the series. It will
also occasionally scare the heck out of you.

Parker writes in a more literary style than most of his
contemporaries, so that one is put in the mind of Dickens, Poe, or
Collins when reading his books. However, Parker is very much in the
here and now. When a character walks into a coffee shop and a CD by
The Pixies is playing, there is no question you are in the 21st
century. Much of THE LOVERS, however, concerns Parker’s past.
He is at a low point as the novel opens, having lost his PI
license, his concealed carry permit, and, as we will see, one of
his best friends. Marking time by tending bar, he uses his
involuntary retirement to begin an investigation into his own
background.

Parker’s father was a well-liked New York cop who murdered
two teenagers in cold blood before taking his own life. Parker
begins checking into the circumstances behind the killings, even as
he initiates a query into his own parentage. What Parker finds is
that everything he knows about himself is wrong, and that the
people he knew as his parents, though flawed, were possessed in
their separate ways with more strains of decency and charity than
he ever could have guessed.

Of more significance for Parker, however, is that from the
moment of his conception --- and before --- he and those whom he
loves have been pursued by a shadowy, seemingly indestructible
couple obsessed with eradicating him. Worse, it appears that they
are on the verge of making another run at him, one that seems to
have every chance of succeeding. As always, Parker has allies; his
friends Angel and Louis are there to help, as well as others,
including two of the most important people in or out of
Parker’s world.

Connolly’s pacing throughout is exquisite, as
Parker’s past is slowly revealed to him, and his true friends
and enemies reveal themselves. Connolly is not hesitant to continue
detonating a bombshell or two even after things are apparently
brought to a close, so that your ears will still be ringing and
your eyes watering long after you read the final paragraph.

If you are new to Charlie Parker, THE LOVERS is a perfect place
to jump on. You can spend the next year catching up on
Connolly’s backlist in anticipation of the next installment.
I am almost positive that I know where he is going with this, which
means I probably will be wrong. One thing for sure, however, is
that, as brilliant as he has been to date, Connolly is just warming
up. Get that cardiac examination you’ve been putting off and
jump on now.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 6, 2011

The Lovers
by John Connolly

  • Publication Date: June 2, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Atria
  • ISBN-10: 1416569545
  • ISBN-13: 9781416569541