well, i am exceptionally reluctant to knock anyone who has managed to get a novel published, but it has to be said i have a strong feeling of being let down. i have become quite the fan of John Connolly over the last decade or so. his debut novel, Every Dead Thing, was an amazing novel to read, and for the most part the novels he has written since, featuring his debut novel's protagonist Charlie Parker, have been excellent.
the last three novels to feature Charlie Parker had been something of an amazing trilogy - The Unquiet, as distrubing as it is, rivals Connolly's debut novel for being declared his best (to date) work, The Reapers was a fascinating tale of two of Parker's long term (for want of a better word) companions, and The Lovers was one of those novels that truly does deserve the accolade "unputdownable". i was very keen, then, to read the next tale of Charlie Parker, The Whisperers. whether it is was because i expected too much or because there's a genuine flaw in the work i'm not sure, but this novel was a major let down.
for those who have not read the book and wish to despite that last comment, skip the rest of this as it is likely to contain spoilers, although nothing that one would not find on the jacket of the book.
a somewhat simplifed take on what the novel is about would be to suggest that it's kind of like a dark follow up to the film Three Kings. it's all very well that film, a not bad rip off of by beloved Kelly's Heroes, showing soldiers in Iraq liberating gold and treasure, but what do they do with them next? In The Whisperers you get something of a clue, as it deals with an operation involving smuggling artefacts stolen from Iraq into America for sale. newly re-licenced private detective Charlie Parker stumbles upon it whilst investigating the circumstances of a returning soldier who committed suicide, and this being a John Connolly novel you certainly get a supernatural slant to it all. it's this last bit which creates anticipation in readers but in this novel eventual disappointment.
due to the nature of the supernatural side of what is being smuggled, Charlie Parker is forced to cross paths with one of the more feared sinister figures forever lurking in his world, he who is known as The Collector. the meeting and actions of the two, however, are given scant time in the novel and feel like an afterthought rather than the great meeting of the two us fans had hoped for. there is something of a cliffhanger left by the meeting of the two; one can only hope that this will be picked up within the next couple of Charlie Parker novels.
there are many other elements in the book which seem to get the briefest of space when clearly they demand more, and that's perhaps the main problem i had with the novel. it is far, far too short. this novel should have had at least another hundred or so pages to it to deal with all the stuff the writer brings up but unusually skimps past with the minimal amount of detail. at the rate of one novel per year (at least) for the last 5 or 6 years, i am curious as to why John Connolly apparently "rushed" this one out. he may wish to take note of other big selling authors whose works are highly anticipated and forward them for publication when he is ready, really.
i am not sure if his next novel, The Burning Soul, shall pick up on elements left hanging by The Whisperers or if they will be addressed later; one can only hope so.
in the mean time, if you're a fellow fan of the tales of Charlie Parker and haven't got your hands on The Whisperers as of yet, my advice is that you should do so anyway, despite the deflated feeling it left me with. i mean, it's still a Charlie Parker thriller, and thus it still has merits. if nothing else, Connolly's dazzling use of splitting the narrative between 1st and 3rd person as the story requires it still makes you more involved with the novel than you could be.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!