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
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.