“A great book is like a great evil.”– Callimachus.
As of now, you can count me as a fan of John Connolly’s Charlie “Bird” Parker series. Book 3, “The Killing Kind,” picks up from the last one, but amps up the creepy factor. Parker is still up in Maine, and this time he’s unearthing the secrets of a lost community of wacky evangelicals called the Aroostook Baptists. There’s a quest for a very valuable, revolting edition of the Biblical Book of Revelations… made out of body parts. Oh, and then there’s the many poisonous spiders crawling through these pages, courtesy of the book’s memorable villain, Elias Pudd. (Arachnophobes, beware.)
Here’s a complaint: Connolly takes too many hints from Ian Fleming when it comes to the creation of villains. Elias Pudd, with his spider fetish, is already very memorable- but then there’s ANOTHER memorable killer creation in “The Golem,” an unlikely Holocaust survivor hit man who (it is implied) may have escaped from a concentration camp oven as some sort of Jewish avenger. It’s such a striking concept that it feels like “too much.” TWO kooky cartoon killers overburden the plot, considering there are a few other less developed psycho killers already in the mix.
Here’s another complaint: Throughout, Connolly uses a potent metaphor for how past sins aggregate, for how evil lurks under the surface. He calls it “The Honeycomb World.” But why didn’t he have his memorable villain use KILLER BEES then?!? Or why didn’t he go with “The Spiderweb World” metaphor instead?!?
Complaints aside, this series keeps me intrigued. Its flaws are charming, because you can see the author improving with each book, wrestling with narrative complications, figuring out the craft. On to “The White Road.”