Thursday, April 14, 2016

Review of The Whisperers by John Connolly (Hodder, 2011)

When a former US Army soldier who served in Iraq takes his own life his father asks PI Charlie Parker to investigate the death and also how one of his employees is being treated by her boyfriend, one of his son’s Army buddies.  The suicide appears to be one of a small cluster in Northern Maine and linked to a cross-border smuggling operation from Canada.  Parker is not a typical PI, haunted by ghosts and the supernatural, and tends to create as much trouble as he solves.  He quickly comes to the attention of the smugglers and they try to warn him off.  However, Parker is a persistent soul, especially when he’s convinced that there is something more at play than simply smuggling drugs or money.  However, Parker is not the only person interested in the smuggling operation and the stakes and consequences rise as the last shipment nears.  

The Whisperers is the ninth book in the Charlie Parker series set in Maine.  In this outing, Parker is tasked with discovering why a small group of Iraqi veterans are taking their own lives.  Of the series I’ve read so far, this is the strongest tale.  Connolly is a first rate writer who crafts expressive and captivating prose, though sometimes I don’t quite connect fully with the story or supporting characters.  In The Whisperers, however, all the elements were on point – the hook concerning the strange suicides and the smuggling of antiquities, the social commentary on the Iraqi war and the treatment of veterans, the investigation, the sense of place, the characterisation and social relations, and the plotting.  The result is an engaging, informative and tense read grounded in strong research that contextualises but doesn’t swamp the narrative which kept me turning pages into the early hours.  A thoroughly entertaining tale.

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