Shop now Shop now Shop now See more Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now DIYED Shop now Shop Fire Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
71
4.3 out of 5 stars
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£8.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

After two sucessful but unspectacular deviations (2003's adequate supernatural thriller Bad Men, then Nocturnes, a collection of occasionally brilliant short stories), Connolly returns to the character who made his name, PI Charlie Parker. After stretching his literary muscles, growing within these other forms, does he return even stronger than before, as I'd thought he must? Rather disappointingly, I'm not sure.
A disappearance kicks off the events of The Black Angel. The disappearance of a young woman from the streets of New York (indeed, very much a young woman of the streets of New York). Those who've taken her think she has no one, think there is no one to care and no one who'll come. They're wrong. For the girl is blood to Louis, friend of Charlie Parker. Despite the wishes of Parker's partner Rachel, who wants stability and safety for their new daughter, he undertakes to help his friend follow the trail of the men who have taken his cousin, and who have silently been taking others also. As their violent search progresses through nests of pimps, whores and people of the street, it becomes clear that something far more sinister is going on. Something that has reverberations far beyond New York; something that leads to a slaughter at a motel in Mexico, an apartment decorated with statuettes formed of bone, a sacked French monastery, and a sinister ossuary in Eastern Europe. Parker's journey through these places leads him towards a group known as the Believers, the monstrous, corpulent demon Blackwell, and the prize they ultimately seek: the mythical Black Angel.
Ah, it's good to be back with Parker again. Angel and Louis, too: the sheer force of Louis's emotion is one of the most powerful and dangerous things about this book. Normally so...contained (if that's the right word), now there's a restrained and barbaric rage in him that's rather scary. Especially as in The Black Angel he steps incredibly close to the edge once or twice, and some might say he even falls off. The degree of his violence, probably unnecessary at times, makes you question his character in a rather alarming way. In this sense, The Black Angel is not a comfortable read, but it is not supposed to be. On one level, it is simply the inevitable melding of Gothic horror story and detective novel (more thriller, this time) that Connolly was always leaning towards, but on a deeper level it's a book about evil, darkness. Hell is formed in the minds of the corrupted, and they stalk above the soil not beneath; what havoc's within they wreak without, by their nature. What leads men into evil? What tempts them and corrupts them? Can evil have a benevolent cause, even if it's vengeance? Is it finite? Does evil exist because of man, or is humanity merely an outlet?
It's a scary, disturbing novel, especially towards the end when its dominant allele begins to show, when "horror" takes over. As a detective novel, it's less sucessful than his previous books, and that might be why I feel some small (very small, though) portion of disappointment. Because it seems more of a horror-thriller than a detective novel, its happenstances seem almost destined, predetermined, as if Parker is simply treading a laid-out course to an inevitable end.
Connolly is also not as good at depicting the street culture which takes up so much of the first half; he's far better when immersed in the esoterica of chandeliers constructed from bones, (as an example). It's not that his depiction of that culture is not good, it's just that he's so much more interesting, riveting and original, when he's giving the gothic background to his story, daubing pentacles on the floor of his story. Anyway, that's a minor thing. More important is the fact that this book is, well, a bit long. It's written brilliantly, with Connolly's usual lyric flare for the gothic macabre, but it's still too long by about 100 pages. Thus, it's not as quick and purely thrilling as The Killing Kind, and because it feels a little drawn-out it doesn't feel as beautifully twisted as The White Road. It's only when Connolly really gets into the Believers, Sedlec, and bones that the whole thing sparks with grim ancient gothic life. Oh, and the vampiric Brightwell, who is the most chilling fictional villain since Connolly's own Mr Pudd. He really does excel at creating these repellent, deformed villains that make the flesh creep. His representations of evil are inspiring, which is almost paradoxical. Their arcane originality certainly carries a good sense of the fascination that evil has for some.
Though it's a bit long, and though Connolly doesn't always dwell in the places he should, The Black Angel is an impressive, fascinating and thrilling book. It's revelations regarding Parker's nature mark it as a significant milestone in the series. It's almost a culmination of all the books so far. Indeed, Parker himself has come full circle: with a new partner and child as hostages to fortune once again, The Black Angel could perhaps provide Parker with another, darker, beginning.
0Comment| 47 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Don't know what it is about Charlie Parker but he's a fictional character beyond belief and comes to life in the pages of Connolly's novels. None of the Charlie Parker series are written for the faint-hearted. Be aware if your tastes don't run to the violent, devious and totally surreal. Connolly creates human monsters, demons, and leaves it to the endlessly flawed Charlie Parker, and his equally flawed friends, to chase them down, hunt them out and stop them. It's hard to tell whether Parker's on the side of good or bad. He's often evil, capable of dreadful acts of violence, usually armed and hangs around with the type of people you'd cross the road to avoid. Our only assurance is that he only kills those worse than himself which possibly makes him a good guy! If you like highly original, incredibly brooding, dark fiction with a good splash of gore then you're going to love Connolly. I do.
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 May 2005
I picked up a paperback of John Connolly's first novel Every Dead Thing almost by accident, in the bargain bucket of my local bookstore. I was hooked from the first page.
The Black Angel has everything which first drew me to the story of Charlie 'Bird' Parker - and more. The supernatural elements are getting more and more prominent, but they've been developed so well over the series that they're now a vital and believable element of this world.
With Parker having come almost a complete circle from the first novel, with a woman in his life and their newborn daughter, the tension is wound up an extra knot. Even the incomparable Angel and Louis do little to lighten things up as they are even closer to the action this time round.
If you've read the other Parker novels then you can't miss this one - and don't forget Nocturnes because the Parker novella is referred to in this.
If you're a newcomer to John Connolly then I'd advise you read Every Dead Thing, Dark Hollow, The Killing Kind, and White Road before reading The Black Angel - but go and buy them all now and read them back to back, believe me you won't want to put them down.
0Comment| 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 October 2007
I'm inspired to write this recommendation after reading this book. Others before me have reviewed it far more eloquently and in detail. For me, the charm of this book (the first of John Connolly's that I've read) is in the engrossing detail with which he describes the gothic dramas of earlier times and entwines them with the modern setting. I have wasted days months and years reading books which have been derivative, lazy cut and paste rip-offs written by high profile authors. I can't remember a novel I've read recently which has had such a profound and lasting after-effect as this one. It isn't an easy read as you have to concentrate to get the best out of it but it is rewarding. Give it a try - you won't be disappointed.
0Comment| 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Dark, mystical and magisterial, few writers can match the metaphysical richness of Connolly's prose. His works have always been as much explorations of the nature of evil as conventional serial killer thrillers, and here he brings this supernatural element to the fore without sacrificing credibility. This is Connolly's finest novel to date, and the best book I have read in some time. I enjoyed it so much it sent me back to reread the earlier entries in the series
Compulsively readable, beautifully written, and emotionally and viscerally thrilling, this is Connolly back at his best.
0Comment| 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 7 March 2010
After a break from the Parker series with the admirable collection Nocturnes, in which he indulged his taste for the macabre to fine effect through the medium of traditional Gothic/Horror shorts (invoking Lovecraft and Poe, Vicars and Vampires on the way) Connolly here returns to his usual format with this, the latest case for the angst ridden Maine P.I. Charlie Parker and his associates Louis and Angel.
The plot kicks off in a conventional enough fashion: Louis's aunt from back home turns up in the city hunting for her daughter, Alice, who has taken to the streets in a big way getting deep into drugs and using any means she knows to support her habit. Against the wishes of his wife Rachel and in-laws and against his own fatherly instincts, Parker decides to take the job of finding the girl and returning her to her home. So far so everyday, but this being a Connolly novel we know Parker's never going to get a straightforward missing person case.
Bad things are happening in the city, things to which April's disappearance is linked: someone is fashioning elaborate sculptures from human bone, very odd people are showing up, Parker is having bad dreams, people are getting killed. From the initially banal premise, by way of the search for Alice, the plot takes a wild turn into an exhumation of the malevolent underbelly of church history. Connolly leads us through a landscape in which demons, monks, Nazis, Mexican cultists and esoteric art collectors follow the dictates of an obscure biblical text to deadly ends.Parker has to deal with much more than a few hopped up pimps.
Anyone who is familiar with the Parker series will know the score. Connolly is a writer who mixes the Horror and Crime genres in a unique fashion, alternating between passages of Chandleresque wisecracking and full blown King like horror with abandon. Not always easy this as the two are not natural bedfellows, but in The Black Angel as in previous titles in the series Connolly makes light of the task, weaving Parker's hallucination - like musings on fate, guilt, death, ghosts and redemption with the traditional P.I. trappings and keeping us on just the right side of reality, leaving this reader thinking that Parker's maybe just self - delusional in some of his conclusions or maybe he's just got an over active imagination....and all is normal on the Maine streets.....Maybe?
One to keep you up at night.
( Ralph Lees )
0Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 5 July 2016
I liked the author's previous books in which one is left to wonder about the supernatural elements linked to a real crime thriller. In this book it is mostly about the fantasy and evil angels and there is not much of real life thriller with true crime left so I got bored long before the very mixed up conclusion.
Not recommended.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 19 October 2010
This is the first book I have read by this Author and I will be reading more. It is quite a long book but I found it hard to put down once I had started it. a real "get your teeth into" kind of book.

This is a mix of supernatural and crime fiction; this may not suit everybody but I found it totally engrossing. There are some quite graphic scenes of violence which make for uncomfortable reading. Be warned if you cannot handle that, it may not be the book for you. Having said that, none of it to my mind was mindless prose.

It is not the first book to feature Charlie Parker, a Private Investigator; it is the 5th in the Parker series of books. I did not find that reading this one first spoilt my enjoyment of this work though, rather it has spurred me on to collect the rest of them. I also feel it is a book I can re read if I wish to in the future.

I found all the characters, good and bad, well drawn and the plot interesting. The book has obviously been researched thoroughly as well and flowed at a good pace. The chapters are quite long so don't expect to get too much sleep!

I would recommend this book and Author to anyone who likes a book they can escape into. Great stuff !
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 29 May 2015
The Black Angel is one of the high spots in a consistently excellent series. Not only can Connolly write well-rounded and consistent characters, but in this book he has brought a fascinating but disturbing piece of history to life. The Parker novels are unique in my experience, in that they combine sometimes harrowing murder stories with the supernatural to great effect.
Book was supplied quickly, well-packaged and at a good price.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 26 May 2014
I like John Connolly's Charlie Parker novels and this is a good book. However it is not up to the standard of the other Parker stories.

Without wanting to spoil the story what spoiled this for me was the lack of pace compared to the other stories and the moving back and forth between history ensured this was not Connolly's best novel for me.

However, it is still a decent read and worth buying to keep the series complete.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse