Monday, September 17, 2012

Book Review - The Wrath of Angels

The Wrath of Angels – John Connolly   
It seems ages since I have read a Charlie Parker novel. Whilst I have enjoyed his young adult books his bread and butter is his original series. For those unfamiliar with the Charlie Parker novels they are essentially crime novels about a Private Detective with hints of the supernatural throughout. Some of the novels feature the supernatural element more prominently then others but it’s never too in your face and as such as a certain mystery about it. For the record, I prefer the novels where the paranormal element is prevalent but the whole series is incredibly strong and there has not been a book that hasn’t been “very good.” I was looking forward to this ever since I read the blurb.
The blurb:
In the depths of the Maine woods, the wreckage of an aeroplane is discovered. There are no bodies, and no such plane has ever been reported missing, but men both good and evil have been seeking it for a long, long time. What the wreckage conceals is more important than money: it is power. Hidden in the plane is a list of names, a record of those who have struck a deal with the Devil. Now a battle is about to commence between those who want the list to remain secret and those who believe that it represents a crucial weapon in the struggle against the forces of darkness.

The race to secure the prize draws in private detective Charlie Parker, a man who knows more than most about the nature of the terrible evil that seeks to impose itself on the world, and who fears that his own name may be on the list. It lures others too: a beautiful, scarred woman with a taste for killing; a silent child who remembers his own death; and the serial killer known as the Collector, who sees in the list new lambs for his slaughter.

But as the rival forces descend upon this northern state, the woods prepare to meet them, for the forest depths hide other secrets.

Someone has survived the crash.
Something has survived the crash.
And it is waiting . . .
It is only when you haven’t read a John Connolly book for a while that you realise how good his writing actually is. No one describes a scene more vividly or succinctly as him. It seems a cliché but sometimes his prose is like poetry. The way he sums up the mood of a town and its inhabitants in a couple of paragraphs is second to none.
This book starts with a young lady and an elderly man telling Charlie a story. From the outset I was captivated. Not only is the story enthralling but interspersed with its telling you have the excellent comedic relief of Charlie interacting with his questionable associates at the bar. It is this chapter alone that encapsulates everything that is great about a Charlie Parker novel.
Charlie learns more about what is going on in this novel as regards to the reoccurring story running through the series. This novel explains a lot of the mystery around the so called “angels” and Charlie’s perceived role within them. However, John Connolly is careful not to reveal too much. It is a great novel to recap what has happened so far in the series. Charlie himself has clearly developed from the rash, angry man we met in the early books. He is now more inclined to weigh up his options that wade in now.
As always the highlight of a John Connolly novel is the characters. Fan favourites Angel and Louis who have taken a back seat of late feature heavily in the “Wrath of Angels.” Their snappy dialogue is on point and often I found myself laughing along with their banter as it seems so effortless. One scene in particular towards the end was perfect. I could read a whole book on just those three characters talking in a bar.
The other characters are all well drawn, with Epstein in particular getting fleshed out. There is even a surprise return of one of Charlie’s nemesis.
The plot is fairly simple but it is the intrigue around the plane and those after it that is the hook. As all great writers do, John feeds the reader titbits of information but never leaves them tangling for too long.
The conclusion is good if not wholly satisfying. It does not resolve all of the plot elements but then you don’t really want it to when you have an underlining story running through the series. Overall, this is a fantastic entry into the Charlie Parker series and reminded me just how good John Connolly’s writing is.
My rating: 9.2