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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, brooding and metaphysically savage, 13 Aug. 2006
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This review is from: Every Dead Thing: A Charlie Parker Thriller: 1 (Paperback)
My copy of this novel is festooned with critical acclaims spread across the first four pages together with the front and back covers, just one example of which is "the most terrifying thriller since Hannibal". Several other professional reviewers mention the parallels between this and the work of Thomas Harris, so it was hugely hyped up before I read the first line of the novel itself, and expectations were accordingly sky-high. If anything, all these extracts - designed, no doubt, to attract the passing eye of the potential buyer in the bookstore or airport - serve to disadvantage the author, especially for a debut novel such as this is. Now, as I cast my mind back over the past few days as I completed my reading, I can at last confirm that the universal acclaim is vindicated, and for anyone who reads these reviews on Amazon as a means of assisting in their decision whether or not to buy a particular book, then let me simply say this : Buy it, you will be more than glad you did.

As others here have suggested, Every Dead Thing, at 160,000 words or more, could have been a little shorter and might have been the better for it. I am of the understanding that John Connolly wrote this on a part-time basis and took many months (possibly years) to complete it, and in a way this is shown in the occasional changes of direction and cutting-off of characters and events long before the halfway stage of the book. In essence its storyline is simple : good guy hunts bad guy, although it could equally be said that it is a story of a bad guy tracking down a good guy and you want the baddie to win. The only thing missing from the tale and which, in my view, leaves it falling short of being worthy of comparison to The Silence of the Lambs, is a central character with the unprecedented charisma of Hannibal Lecter. With all the prominent references to Thomas Harris' creation in and around the sleeves of Every Dead Thing, this is something that will possibly disappoint you. On the other hand, there is compensation in the form of beautiful prose throughout, which despite the subject matter manages to sound poetic and strangely uplifting. "The Travelling Man" everyone wants to find (especially the hero Charlie "Bird" Parker) may lack the magnetic personality of Lecter but he may be his intellectual superior, such is his obsession with centuries-old history of anatomical dissection and his attempts to display his victims in keeping with (for example) Renaissance works of art.

Not blessed with a photographic memory, I found myself forgetting about the significance of one or two characters who only earn occasional mention; I could not begin to guess at the number of characters in this story but in hindsight I would have benefited from writing their names down on a piece of paper together with the role they play and their relevance to the story-line. Some characters, such as the organised crime 'dons', are crafted with a dedication to detail that is refreshing and most welcome, yet curiously their importance in the story as a whole is relatively minor. It is perhaps these details that could have been scaled down, sad to say, in the interests of keeping the pace of the story more consistent.

There are many colourful characters throughout the tale, not all of them survive of course because this is a novel of serial murder and if I were to guess at the number of victims I would surely underestimate the actual figure. It is a tale of gruesome and psychopathic violence although relatively few of the killings are described 'as they happen' - for the majority it is a case of discovering their bodies. Part of the story takes place in and around New York, but the bulk of it is dedicated to New Orleans and the state of Louisiana, of which I learned quite a bit thanks to Mr Connolly. I wonder if this tale could have been told in the wake of Hurricane Katrina...

Five stars, then, for a darkly violent yet vividly detailed masterpiece of love, loss, regret and retribution.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Feb 2009 12:41:15 GMT
R. Griffiths says:
Superb review. I am currently reading his latest novel featuring Louis, Angel and CP and am utterly engrossed. They are all dark, gritty, magical and full of loss, pain and love. Louis and Angel are, to my mind, possibly two of the best anti-hero creations there are. Thank you for this.
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