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A Time of Torment: A Charlie Parker Thriller


A Time of Torment: A Charlie Parker Thriller

I have the critical equivalent of an acute stammer at the moment, and am trying desperately to overcome it and give you what you expect when you come to this page: a discussion (hopefully an intelligent one) of A TIME OF TORMENT. I’ve been reading John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series from the beginning, and this latest installment may be his best book to date and indisputably his most impressive. It shines and depresses, overjoys and frightens, from page to page, paragraph to paragraph, sentence to sentence.

Connolly introduces unforgettable characters and dispenses with them before the end of the book, ties readers to the ziplines of a couple of fascinating mysteries, and offers an explanation as to how the God of the New Testament could allow the existence of evil in the world. Connolly does all of this --- characters, mysteries, theology and a whole lot more --- in a book shot through with a literary ability and style that should satisfy the harshest critic. It doesn’t get any better than this. Seriously.

"[A TIME OF TORMENT]  shines and depresses, overjoys and frightens, from page to page, paragraph to paragraph, sentence to sentence."

Parker is a private investigator who is badly damaged, physically and mentally, by situations both direct and indirect. He has lost much and undoubtedly will lose more, but shoulders on in the manner that the rest of us are compelled to take our next breaths by rote. He is still feeling the effects of what he incurred in THE WOLF IN WINTER, but continues to slowly recuperate as A TIME OF TORMENT opens, as he takes on a new client. The client is a man named Jerome Burnel, who has been glorified as a hero and then denounced as the basest of criminals. Burnel, having just been released from prison, knows that his time on this earth is not long. He is fully aware that the forces that made his life a living hell are going to take it from him. He has accepted his fate, but doesn’t want it to be all for nothing, so he retains Parker to investigate what happened to him --- as well as some other innocents caught in the crossfire --- and why.

Parker is intrigued on several levels, not the least of which is a reference to something called the Dead King. He doesn’t have to wait long to pick up the trail, particularly with the assistance of Angel and Louis, his more-than-competent associates. The answer to what happened, and what will happen, to Burnel is ultimately located in an isolated, poverty-stricken area of West Virginia where a criminal family has held uneasy sway for decades, due to criminal cunning as well as an unholy alliance.Parker learns much by book’s end, but not everything. And neither do we. By the time you read the last sentence, you’ll be thoroughly disquieted, unless you haven’t been paying attention.

You can jump into A TIME OF TORMENT without knowing what has gone before --- Connolly does yeoman’s work in filling in the mortar of the canon’s past events, when necessary --- but you will want to go back to the beginning and read every word of this series, in sequential order, upon completion of this latest installment. It will make the time until the next offering is published go faster.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on August 5, 2016

A Time of Torment: A Charlie Parker Thriller
by John Connolly

  • Publication Date: May 23, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
  • ISBN-10: 1501118331
  • ISBN-13: 9781501118333