I have read John Connolly's entire Charlie Parker series, and Wrath of Angels is the one where he definitely hits his stride. Several themes and charaI have read John Connolly's entire Charlie Parker series, and Wrath of Angels is the one where he definitely hits his stride. Several themes and characters are resolved that were extremely vague and mysterious upon their introduction. The fallen angel theme becomes more well-defined as does the Jewish faction in the chase thereof, but most of all, the character of The Collector is finally revealed in all his insidious decay. But the best thing about a John Connolly novel is not so much the story, but HOW it is told.
John Connolly's prose is not just an intellectual communication. His stories are a place where there is more to each word than the definition, more to each sentence than a subject and a verb. His writing seems to be fused together with emotional content where, between the letters and the words, another deeper story runs, which goes beyond the dialogue and descriptions to include the characters' feelings and fears. He tells of a place where there is not just a forest, but a forest with a purpose and intent that is not always good, where bad people don't just do bad things, they live evil like a doctrine, where victims are not randomly chosen, but are debtors to some karmic reckoning they feel coming before it gets there. People, places, and things are imbued with an ever-present potential for evil. Charlie Parker is different from any other literary character in that he embraces his darker side in order to do his work.
Connolly's stories carry an atmosphere of mystery, above and beyond the plot necessary to make a mystery novel, a feeling that life itself is something to be figured out, as if it were made to cause suffering and proliferate evil. But, that is not what is terrifying about John Connolly's Charlie Parker series. The truly terrifying thing is that he seems to understand that goodness is but a compounded, twisted, transformed version of that same evil, and that very twisted version of goodness is the most we can hope for on this earth. He portrays the drama of a life where evil is the default, and therefore easily obtained, and goodness is always beset with obstacles, requiring tremendous effort, never achieved with any great satisfaction or perfection, and even that only with the most heroic effort.