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on 23 May 2010
With The Whisperers John Connolly continues the work he started 12 years earlier in Every Dead Thing to blur the boundaries between the crime novel and the horror novel. He has achieved that blend brilliantly in what may well be his most satisfying novel so far.

We start in the war-zone of Iraq and in particular, a museum vault, within which a treasure hoard is hidden, including one item more important but also potentially more dangerous than all the rest.

Charlie Parker, with his private investigators license recently reinstated after some "trouble" (see previous books in the series) is hired to investigate the death of a soldier. He soon finds out that this death is also linked with the deaths of several other recently returned Iraq veterans. Initially dismissed as a result of post traumatic stress, Parker begins to uncover a much deeper and darker mystery involving that mysterious box.

John Connolly's tales are always populated with some marvellous characters but here he excels himself with a huge range of interesting, diverse and downright nasty individuals. All are drawn in the same pen picture style that Stephen King uses so well are all are immediately brought to life through their actions and dialogue. So we meet Mexican drug lords, less than honest policeman, young bloods trying to make their mark and of course the soldiers and their families. Beyond these players, however, are a whole range of much darker characters. Herod, a deeply nasty individual tortured by illness and demons. The Collector, again a character from previous books, but this time given more life as he continues his mission to collect souls. And then there is The Captain, the thing behind the glass, everyone's nightmare realised.

These final characters and the underlying premise of the book inject a huge dose of supernatural adrenalin into the story which lifts it way beyond the norm. Those who have read Connolly's work in the past will already know that Parker is a tortured individual on a seemingly one way road to oblivion. His partners, the excellent Louis and Angel are always there to help with the physical side of things but it is in the deeper darker realm that Parker meets his greatest tests and there he is alone.

Of course, the book also carries a powerful message, not so much anti-war but very much pro-war veteran. Much of the detail in the book about the horrendous way that returning vets are treated is based on real life and is something we should all be ashamed of.

John Connolly continues to travel his fairly unique journey through the boundaries of genre fiction. Every Charlie Parker book builds on the previous to provide a genuinely unsettling mythos. Just real enough to be believable, just unreal enough to be terrifying, it's a journey which seems destined to end in tragedy for Parker but it's all the more compelling for it.

If you haven't read his previous Parker books then you may miss some of the subtle nuances on show here but for fans of the series this is fantastic, not merely recommended reading this should be compulsory.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 April 2010
Some old demons are revisited and some new ones unleashed in John Connolly's latest Charlie Parker investigation, and when I say demons ...well, like it or not - and it's not to everyone's taste - the darker supernatural flavour that has coloured the author's thriller novels and is evident in his alternate dark-fantasy works is even more to the fore in The Whisperers.

Here Parker is called upon to investigate an ex-soldier, Joel Tobias, who served in Iraq and came back pretty beat-up and tormented by the experience. Bennett Patchett, an influential figure around Portland, Maine, the owner of a well-known diner, doesn't believe however that this is any excuse for his mistreatment of one of his waitresses who lives with Tobias. That's the story anyway, but what Bennett really wants to find out is if Tobias's cross-border transportation trips to Canada might have anything to do with the suicide of his son, Damian Patchett, also an ex-Iraq veteran who served in the same unit with Tobias, but who had seemed, up until his untimely death, to have come through it unscathed. Dealing with a lot of tough ex-military types, well rehearsed in torture techniques, who don't want a private detective probing too deeply into their business of smuggling precious ancient treasures looted from the Museum of Baghdad, Parker has to call on the service of two old friends, Louis and Angel, to look after his back.

There are a few other characters, collectors, some old and some new with Biblical names, who have an interest in the trade of valuable, ancient Mesopotamian, Sumerian and Babylonian antiquities, all of them inevitably quite scary and ruthless in their business dealings and the artifacts themselves are supposed to have certain arcane occult qualities that they are eager to possess. This would appear to bring Connolly's Charlie Parker work even closer into the realm of the horror novel, which may not be to everyone's taste, but there can be something almost mythological about the nature of dark thrillers in any case, with Death stalking the land in the shape of ruthless assassins, serial killers and damaged figures seeking vengeance, and this is something Connolly clearly recognises.

Even more so here, where the principal driving force behind it is the events in Iraq and the impact of dealing with near-mythological forces far above what humans can be expected to endure unscathed. I'm sure many clinical psychologists and therapists wouldn't be too keen to see post-traumatic stress disorder considered in terms of demonic possession, but, no less capable of causing terror, nightmares and death, it proves to be an effective means of making the horror real and the real even more horrifying. The idea of the invasion of Iraq potentially opening up a Pandora's Box in the region is also an effective, if somewhat obvious, metaphor.

That said, the storyline in The Whisperers doesn't entirely gel or hold sufficient interest once the premise is made clear very early on. The main part of Parker's investigation advances slowly, while the potentially more thrilling elements and the entertaining conversations you usually find with Connolly are relegated to occasional colour (Louis and Angel remaining in a disappointingly minor supporting role after The Reapers), the writing moreover remaining direct rather than lyrical. If the execution is somewhat wanting, The Whisperers however ties in well with what is increasingly becoming a Charlie Parker mythology.
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VINE VOICEon 22 June 2010
Don't get me wrong, I have all John Connolly's books, and have been to a couple of book signings. JC is by far my favourite author.

But I just couldn't get The Whisperers. I wonder whether the Parker-era has run its course. Anyone familiar with JC's earlier books will understand my sentiments when compared to Dark Hollow or the Killing Kind.

I thought the concept of the plot was good - demonic spirits inside a antique stolen from an Iraqi museum by US soldiers. I failed to connect to any of the characters this time - Parker seemed a bit on the edge of the story many times; Angel and Louis seemed to make up the numbers; and the darkness of previous stories wasn't there. The only 'flashback' was Jimmy Jewel - that showed promise until he met a untimely end.

John - if you read this, apologies for my review of your first book I didn't 'get'. Back to grass roots for the next please!!

3* if it was anyone else. 4* as JC is still my favourite author.
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on 7 June 2010
I've read all the Parker books and confess I found this one harder to get through than the rest. Alot of people seem to think this is the best yet. Afraid I found it a bit too fragmented and 'bitty' until maybe half way through and I did put it down a few times, although always intended to go back to it. Not until three quarters of the way through did I really find myself compelled to keep turning the pages. Don't get me wrong, its well worth a read, though it is pretty dark and could do with more humour in places to lighten it. It certainly takes Parker's story much further into some pretty dark realms than Connolly has taken him before and there's certainly continuity with the villainous characters. Connolly is expert at creating nasty characters. The ending is very well done, although goodness knows what kind of dark places Parker will have to go next, gonna need a very strong torch for that! I would add one note of caution though. From the advertising blurb from the book jacket, I was expecting interaction between Parker and the Collector alot earlier in the book. We meet them separately fairly early but not together. When they finally meet, it is well written but all I'll say is don't expect, as I did, early, or even 'mid-book' interaction. Their meeting does come but it takes its time. To sum up, I felt it a bit too fragmented and even a bit 'plodding' for a long time, but from about three quarters of the way through, it really picks up. I've given it four stars but to be honest if there was a three and a half option I'd have gone for that. It definitely leaves you wanting to next book.
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on 6 April 2015
Definitely not one of his best Charlie Parker novels, although still readable. I just got the impression the author was 'writing by numbers' - using his stock characters and variations on plot themes. It seems to happen to most authors who have developed a strong, popular 'character series'. It must be difficult to regenerate freshness and originality each time.
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on 13 July 2015
Only just squeezed four stars in. I enjoyed it - but then, I'm a great fan, so I'm prepared to tolerate a dip in quality. Something didn't quite gel like the previous novels. I just hope Connolly hasn't run out of steam.
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on 3 September 2014
The Wisperers disappointed me. I have read all of the preceding Charlie Parker novels and felt that Connolly was running out of ideas and energy. There were too many references to previous novels and too many superfluous explanations of the references.These disrupted the flow of the novel and irritated this reader. Not up to his usual high standards. Connolly should send Parker to his final solution.
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on 13 January 2013
I really like the Charlie Parker novels by John Connolly and have sped through all 11 of them. He manages to add a supernatural overtone to the novels while still keeping the stories well grounded in something which seems like reality, keeping you always wondering what is actually real.
The characters feel worth following and there is a nice progression in their development through the books and the detailed descriptions of the environment and actions of the people paints vivid pictures for you to enjoy.

While the books are certainly dark, they still leave your belief in humanity intact and as the star rating indicates this is certainly a series I would recommend.
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on 27 April 2014
Any one buying these books is in for a real roller coaster ride. I love every one of them and have read some twice. The White Road is one of my all time favourites. Thriller fans take a peek at this Author. Eileen d
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on 9 September 2013
Your man has done it again. We have come to expect this quality of writing and the pictures painted by John Connolly with all the twists and turns. As has become the norm not all the characters are what they seem to be. In this case neither is the tale being told about the box. The climax is totally UN expected.
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