John Connolly ‘Dark Hollow’ Review
Written by: Wayne C. Rogers
In John Connolly’s Dark Hollow, the second novel in the Charlie “Bird” Parker series, our private investigator, who’s living in Maine, returns to track down a serial killer that his grandfather once hunted. It began thirty-six years before when six women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two disappeared in northern Maine during the months from April to October.
Charlie’s grandfather, Bob Warren, helped in the search for the missing girls, but to no avail…that is until a stranger stepped into a bar one night and told him to look in the Sebec Lake area. Five of the women were found there, hanging naked from the same oak tree. The stranger’s name was Caleb Kyle, and he was never seen again.
Three decades later, Charlie Parker is asked by Rita Ferris to help collect some back child support from her ex-husband, Billy Purdue. A few days later, Rita and her infant son are found brutally murdered, and the police think Billy did it. It sounds like an open-and-shut case. The only problem is that Billy has taken off, and it seems like everybody in New England is after him.
The local and state police want him for murder. Tony Celli, a member of the Boston mob, thinks that he stole two million dollars from him and will do whatever it takes to get the money back. Next in line are two very evil, cold-blooded assassins who want to get their hands on the missing money so they can retire in style. Last, but not least, is Charlie Parker.
Charlie thinks that Billy is innocent. In fact, his gut instinct tells him that Caleb Kyle is behind the deaths of Rita and her child, not to mention the many killings that will soon follow. The real questions are what is the connection between Caleb Kyle and Billy Purdue, and why has Caleb Kyle started killing once again?
Charlie Parker will eventually find himself up against the most vicious murderers he has ever encountered, and death will be around the every corner, waiting for him to make a crucial mistake. Even with the help of his friends, Louis and Angel, he may not survive the cost required to find the answers to his questions and to finally finish what his late grandfather wanted to do–kill Caleb Kyle!
In Dark Hollow, Mr. Connolly has written a truly magnificent follow-up to his first novel, Every Dead Thing. It’s been almost a year since the Traveling Man murdered Charlie’s wife and daughter. The emotional pain and guilt are still there for Charlie (not to mention the fact he’s able to see the dead and to hear their cries for retribution), but now he has a new purpose in life. His one desire is to fight for those who are unable to do it for themselves; and, thereby, to make amends for the death of his family and for the violence he has inadvertently brought to those closest to him. Charlie understands that there can be no salvation for him, but possibly…just possibly he might be able to bring about reparation by helping the weak and innocent, and by killing those who would prey on them.
The character of Charlie Parker is a richly drawn and boldly comes to life, quickly drawing the reader into his world of sorrow and revenge. No super hero, Parker gets beat up and tortured and barely survives as he bull-headedly plows ahead for the truth. The truth, however, isn’t always what we think it will be, and it always has a price.
The two characters of Louis and Angel are just as strong. Though criminals in their own right, they also have a moral code of honor and are more than willing to put their lives on the line to help Charlie because they know he’s doing the right thing.
Like the author, Thomas Harris, Mr. Connolly also knows how to create killers who reek of pure evil and can cause goose bumps to rise on the arms of the reader. Most people would not survive a chance encounter with someone like Caleb Kyle, or the assassin known as Stritch. These characters are the personification of evil and match Charlie’s goodness deed for deed.
Dark Hollow is a powerful, multi-layered novel that will literally chill you to the bone. That it works successfully on a number of different levels is a credit to Mr. Connolly’s talent as a writer. He’s able to juggle several plot lines without slowing down the pace of the novel, and then have them converge into a suspenseful, electrifying ending that leaves the reader wanting to immediately dig in to the next Parker novel.
John Connolly is certainly a voice that needs to be heard by American readers. If you haven’t read any of his novels, you deserve it to yourself to pick up a copy so you can devour it in a day or two. This is a series that simply keeps getting better and better with each new novel. Highly recommended.
Order Dark Hollow right here.
Top drawer stuff as always, Wayne. Are you going to be covering all of the Charlie Parker novels? ‘The Unquiet’ and ‘The Black Angel’ are damn fine additions to the Connolly oeuvre.
Probably not. I’ll be doing a review of the third novel in the series by John, The Killing Kind, and then will move over to write another Robert McCammon review. Dean Koontz is coming up in September, so I have to get busy on several book reviews for his stuff and an article about him. That’s all on top of my regular writing. I like to get everything done and out of the way a few months in advance in case I find myself unable to write when the time arrives.
Cutting down on sleep is always an option, Wayne. Or maybe getting Matt to clone you…heh-heh…
What the hell do you mean “getting matt to clone you”? You think these other contributors are “real” people? BAH!
Unfortunately, sleep is the one thing I can’t cut back on with my health the way it is right now. My legs swell up the size of balloons by the end of the day and I can barely walk. It used to be that if I lay down for nine hours, the swelling would dissipate or go down. Now, it’s up to eleven hours of lying in a prone position. That means I basically work and sleep during the week, and then try to catch up on my writing over the weekend. I finished paying off nearly $10,000 worth of medical bills last October, and I refuse to go back in debt again for an operation. Besides, too many of my friends have died from operations here in Vegas. You know you’re in trouble when you hear the doctor above you saying, “I’ll give you ten-to-one that he doesn’t pull through.” That’s why my mantra is “Getting old sucks!”
Sorry to hear that, my friend. Apologies for the ‘humorous’ response;I meant no malice by it.
James, no apologies are necessary. It’s just the way it is for me. One day at a time.