Since the late nineties, Irish author John Connolly has been writing about American ex-cop turned PI Charlie Parker, a charming, dry, danger-loving, knuckle-tough bleeding heart who has good friends, does terribly with women and harbours a dark, blood-tinged past that constantly splashes onto his present endeavours. I was hooked from the first book I read (The Black Angel, fifth in the series) and I’ve been an avid fan since.
The latest instalment – A Game of Ghosts – came out last month, and I think it’s fair to say I inhaled it. Connolly is a gifted writer, effortlessly weaving mystery, intrigue and a diverse cast of characters into an absorbing story that, twists, turns and profligate characters despite remains intense. The writing itself casts its spell without suffocating you in words, functional and hypnotic in turn. It’s lovely.
A Game of Ghosts picks up Parker’s story as he tries to find a missing PI for the FBI, leading him to a group of people who may or may not have struck a deal to keep them from damnation (for Charlie Parker, these things happen). At the same time, he’s faced with trying to figure out what’s going on with his young daughter Sam – and dealing with his increasingly distant ex, Rachel, and a looming custody battle. All while trying to suss out more followers of the Buried God…
A Game of Ghosts is the fifteenth Charlie Parker novel. After fourteen books of essentially the same core characters you’d think Parker’s story would be running out of traction, right? But no. Connolly is often compared to Stephen King (especially to American audiences), but I think Connolly is ten books past that comparison. He’s a great author in his own right, managing the macabre, the menacing and the mundane quite nicely – enough to keep you coming back, book after book, as fast as he can write them (and he generally manages a Parker novel a year).
So, what’s the verdict?
Title: A Game of Ghosts
Author: John Connolly, lover of South African wine
My rating: 5/5 (Goodreads rating, for comparison: 4.52)
The best feature of the book: Intrigue. Angel and Louis.
The worst feature of the book: Rachel.
Trigger warnings: The damned. Reluctant psychics. Ex-in laws from (not literally) hell. Death. Possible dread disease.
You’ll like this if… You like mysteries and the mysterious both.