Reviewed by: Ananth
John Connolly is an exemplary writer and I am a fan boy. Period. There is no one who writes with a blend of the supernatural intertwined into regular sleuthing crime fiction and what ends up as the sum of all the parts is a tour de force - an utterly intriguing and outlandish tale that is at once believable and strangely charming. Charming, some might say, is far from the right adjective to use for the eeriness that inhabits John's world but rest assured there is something irresistible about the Bird that always leaves you wanting more - for me, that in itself is more than enough credentials to establish something as charming.
Lovers is the seventh in the Charlie Parker series where Charlie 'Bird' Parker, for a change, is servicing himself rather than one of his clients. Following Unquiet which left Charlie being stripped of his PI license, the Lovers see Charlie delve deep to unravel the mysterious circumstances under which his father killed two teenagers before taking his own life. Sparked by the Collector's (one of my favourite staple feature of this series) comments, Charlie digs deep to make sense of these events that have haunted him his entire life. Amidst this personal turmoil a series of murders are waiting to be linked to his investigations and it is not before long that all events blend into one promising a chilling finale.
The underlying bleakness that seems to pervade Charlie's life is more than present here with Charlie confronting the horrific truths of his parentage. As the pieces fall together and facts fall into place it is almost as if Charlie is the only kind of person who can deal with the kind of curve balls that life has to throw. He seems to have this phenomenal appetite for catastrophes and destructiveness which he seems to handle in an All-In-A-Days-Work style. With an array of characters each in their own way furthering Charlie's quest, the Lovers is a book that is a sad yet poignant and fulfilling read. (Not to mention the fact that it might make you go double check that the doors have indeed been locked!)
What has always pleased me and still does is the way John's characters play on your mind - they are so well etched and fit so snugly into the plot, it is almost unbelievable. You are left journeying with Charlie and it is a horrific journey indeed yet there seems to be the driving hand of destiny that seems to propel him further. John's research is top notch and this complements the super natural theme very well making for a very credible account (the Costa Rican parasitoid wasp whose host is the spider Plesiometa argyra forms an actual basis for introducing the bizarre). Charlie seems to inhabit a parallel world where anything is possible and he is forced to confront the strangest of adversaries - in this world the dead still manage to make their presence felt and shadows that lurk have their own agendas.
While people starting out with John would do well to get to read the series in order, Lovers is still a stand alone piece of work though the prime movers that impel Charlie are buried in his past. Though open to interpretation, the para normal aspects of John's work take stronger root here - I would think that as excellent timing given that we have had six novels where this world was being dabbled with. Though disquieting and full of despair, John always manages to triumphantly weave hope and beauty into the otherwise starkly dark world of Charlie - that is what keeps me coming back for more since I just cannot resist knowing what is new with Charlie and his world.
(Ananth is a software engineer from Chennai who loves reading but loves even more the dissecting that follows the read.)