Book: The Lovers (John Connolly)

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The Lovers: A Charlie Parker Thriller

Author: John Connolly
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Charlie Parker is a lost soul. Deprived of his private investigator’s license and under scrutiny by the police, Parker takes a job in a Portland bar. But he uses his enforced retirement to begin a different kind of investigation: an examination of his own past and an inquiry into the death of his father, who took his own life after apparently shooting dead two unarmed teenagers. It’s a search that will eventually lead Parker to question all that he believed about his beloved parents, and about himself.

But there are other forces at work: a troubled young woman who is running from an unseen threat, one that has already taken the life of her boyfriend; and a journalist-turned-writer named Mickey Wallace, who is conducting an investigation of his own. And haunting the shadows, as they have done throughout Parker’s life, are two figures: a man and a woman who seem driven to bring an end to Charlie Parker’s existence.

Haunting, lyrical, and impossible to put down, The Lovers is John Connolly at his best.


In The Lovers, John Connolly’s latest, highly individual entry in his distinguished Charlie Parker series, his doughty private eye’s life is in a downward spiral. The authorities don’t trust him, and he has been deprived of his investigator’s license (including his right to bear arms). He’s holding down an undemanding job in a Portland bar. But Charlie is not the kind to stay in the shadows for long: he is about to undertake the most challenging (and potentially destructive) assignment of his life: he has decided to uncover the facts behind his policeman father’s death and—even more importantly—the killing of a young couple that his father was responsible for. Immersing himself once again in the painful circumstances of his own childhood, he comes across a mystery: an unidentified young man and woman who appear to have been present at many death scenes; and—even harder to accept—they have been seen right back to the days of the suicide of Charlie’s father. This mysterious duo are shadowing Charlie—will he find out the motivation behind his father’s terrible act before he, too, violently dies?

Dublin-born John Connolly is as celebrated in the US as he is in Britain for his perfect assimilation of American idioms in the remarkable series of crime novels featuring Charlie Parker, but it goes without saying that bestselling success requires something more than nailing a US tone of voice. That such as Connolly winners as Every Dead Thing,The Reapers and now, The Lovers, work as well as they do is also down to the fact that he is able to import a striking and stylish use of language into his violent narratives. And there is another element to his work—an audacious move beyond the parameters of normality. The Lovers, like other Connolly books, transports the novels’ battles between good and evil into an almost metaphysical realm. This is always the most controversial component of his books, and inevitably, it’s not to everyone’s taste. But those who love John Connolly know such things are part of the warp and woof of his work, and they move him into a territory that is very much his own. —Barry Forshaw

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