5 stars out of 5
Okay, 5 stars it is - but only because I can't find a way to give it 6. Or, put another way, Charlie Parker rocks!
Actually, Parker started kicking otherworldly butt something like 13 books ago. I'm almost embarrassed to say I'd read only two others (Nos. 1 and 11), but based on how good those two were, when the publisher offered me the opportunity to read this one in exchange for an honest review, I wasted no time saying yes. And my honest opinion now that I've finished it? Wow.
To love these books does take a strong sense of imagination (it's no accident that I used the word "otherworldly"). Parker, you see, actually died - but he remains among the living. That experience left him in a sort of purgatory; he operates as a private detective in this world but is aware that there's another, darker world (dimension, if you will) filled with mostly evil entities. Yes, it's Twilight Zone stuff, and engrossing as all get-out. And if you're wondering, no, it's not necessary to have read previous books to enjoy this one; it's been a while since No. 11 for me, and I didn't feel lost at all.
The story begins as Parker is contacted by Jerome Burnel, a man who heroically kept some folks from being killed but in the process killed the perpetrators. But not long thereafter, he was tried and convicted for having pornography in his home despite insisting it was a set-up. Tortured unmercifully while in prison, he's now out, convinced he's still got a target on his back. Before someone hits it, he wants Parker to hear his story, which involves a cult-like community in an isolated part of West Virginia called the Cut.
Parker and his two cronies agree Burnel is telling the truth about his wrongful conviction and take on the investigation - and then learn that Cut members are highly protective not only of their own, but of an evil entity called the Dead King. That gives the Parker team pause (not to mention a great line):
"...as far as I can tell, there isn't even a rapper called Dead King, and those guys pick up on all the good names."
But alas, just the mention of that name is enough to strike fear in the hearts of men and women (and not infrequently, those who slip up and mention it end up tortured and killed in very unpleasant ways). That means yes, there's plenty of murder and mayhem here, so this book isn't for the squeamish.
Besides a really kinky plot and edge-of-seat action, I got a personal kick out of the fact that some of the action happens in places near and dear to my husband and me, like Portland, Maine, Columbus, Ohio (including my favorite German Village section and Go Bucks) and historic Lewisburg, West Virginia. Scenes take place in other interesting spots as well:
"It was the kind of bar where everybody knew your name, as long as your name was Motherf***er."
Hmmm; truth be told, we've spent time in a few of those as well.
The character development is outstanding and the excellent writing, as well as the action, is nonstop. The ending is satisfying, although there's a loose end that no doubt will be tied into the next installment. Bring it on!
A Time of Torment: A Charlie Parker Thriller by John Connolly (Atria/Emily Bestler Books, August 2016); 480 pp.