John Connolly writes dark, streetwise thrillers that pull no punches when showing human cruelty. Bad Men
crime with supernatural horror as murderous gangsters invade an island whose ghosts have a special way with bad men.
Dutch Island, once known as Sanctuary, lies off the coast of Connolly's regular stamping-ground, the US state of Maine. A gory prologue relates dreadful doings there in 1693. Now it's a sleepy, only slightly spooky haven, easily policed by a single cop--the literally giant-sized "Melancholy Joe" Dupree--plus a mainland deputy.
Joe knows something of Sanctuary's history and the forces that seem to cleanse it of toxic human elements. Following two deaths in a tragic car crash, the old ghosts seem restless, as though waiting for something. They're waiting for a man called Moloch.
Moloch, amoral and appalling, is doing time as a major criminal organiser. His beautiful, cruelly treated wife Marian took her chance to cut loose before Moloch killed her, betraying him to the police and escaping to Dutch Island with their son, a brand-new identity and a small fortune in cash.
When Moloch's team of picked killers seizes a long-awaited opportunity to free him, reunion with his wife is the next priority. Working their way through her friends, relatives and contacts, they leave a chilling trail of death and mutilation. The emotionless assassin Shepherd is bad enough, but irascible Tell has a hair-trigger temper and kills unnecessarily (eg: a bystander talking too loudly on his mobile phone), while the eerily beautiful young man Willard does it lingeringly and for fun. Even Moloch, who coldly and effortlessly dominates this awful crew, is unnerved by Willard.
When all these (and more) reach Sanctuary, a freak snowstorm rages, power and communications fail, and unknowing locals standing between the hitmen and Marian are easy meat. Two quick bullets should deal with Joe Dupree and his current deputy, a female rookie cop from Portland. But something else, as we know from many portents and Moloch's own dreams, is waiting.
Bad Men is a standalone novel despite the brief, superfluous appearance of Connolly's regular PI character Charles Parker. It's a suspenseful, compelling read, hypnotic in its orchestration of brutality and mayhem; readers are likely to wince frequently and even involuntarily shut their eyes. --David Langford
'Connolly creates those rarest of books literate and beautifully written page-turners.' -- Mark Billingham, Daily Mail
'For those without a trace of squeamishness... Connolly's remarkably assured and atmospheric crime novels will provide some pulse racing diversion.' -- Sunday Express
'It is impossible not to get caught up in the momentum of the time-honoured battle of good vs evil.' -- Irish Examiner
'Think Thomas Harris by way of Stephen King: haunting, compelling, but not for the faint of heart.' -- Publishers Weekly
'This is a well written, fast paced contemporary tale.' -- Evening Herald
'Will the film version be directed by John Carpenter or Quentin Tarantino? . . . Connolly spins his gruesome yarn with relish' -- Mail on Sunday
'a pulse-racing novel that demands to be read . . . A gripping and powerful story.' -- Good Book Guide