Stephen Hayes's Reviews > Every Dead Thing

Every Dead Thing by John Connolly
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really liked it
bookshelves: adventure-thriller, crime-fiction, fantasy, tshwane-library
Reading for the 2nd time. Most recently started April 5, 2019.

This is the first in a long series of books by John Connolly featuring private detective Charlie "Bird" Parker, his ex-assassin bodyguards Angel and Louis, a psychologist, Rachel Wolfe, who does criminal profiling for the New York police, and his former New York Police Department colleague Walter Cole.

Though it is the first in the series, it is the third one I've read, for reasons explained more fully here. I read the second in the series first, about 20 years ago, then the eleventh, and came back to the first to try to make sense of what I found in the other books. I strongly recommend to anyone reading this series that you begin with this one, as the later books frequently refer to events that took place in this one.

What grabbed my interest in reading more of the series was that The Wrath of Angels had an element of supernatural horror that was not noticeably present in the first book I had read, and it seemed that John Connolly was developing in the opposite direction to Phil Rickman, who started out as a writer of supernatural horror with books like Crybbe and Candlenight and ended up writing more conventional whodunits.

But reading the first book in the series proved that hypothesis wrong. The supernatural horror element is present in this one from the start.

In Every Dead Thing Charlie Parker leaves the New York police force after his wife and child are killed, and becomes a private detective. It is really two books in one. In the first part he is asked to search for a missing woman from a small town in Virginia, and comes across a serial killer. In the second part he is looking for a serial killer in Louisiana, one whom he also believes to have been responsible for the death of his wife and daughter, who is known as the Travelling [sic] Man.

John Connolly is Irish, and the books are written in British English, and published in England. The villain is the Travelling Man, not the Traveling Man, and Connolly uses the British "towards" rather than the American "toward". It made me wonder if there were American editions of the books, and whether they had been adapted to US English.

I read a library copy, and it had been edited and annotated by another library patron, something that I find rather irritating, though I had to agree with one comment: Too much blood, too many corpses. There is also rather a strong element of organised crime in the book, and while I enjoy reading whodunits and police procedurals, I'm not very fond of the "Godfather" type of story with organised crime families. This book has two sets of rival gangs, one in New York and one in New Orleans.

What kept me reading, and kept my interest, was my curiosity about the element of supernatural horror, which edges the book (and the series) into the urban fantasy genre. I became interested in that genre mainly through the works of Charles Williams and I'm always looking for similar books and even tried to write one.

I found the element of supernatural horror present in the first book of the series, which abolishes my Phil Rickman hypothesis. It's right there on page 121 in the edition I read, where Charles Parker gets a phone call from someone who claims to be the killer of his wife and child, and there is the following conversation:

"You're a sick man, but that isn't going to save you." I pressed Caller ID on the phone and a number came up, a number I recognised. It was the number of the call-box at the end of the street. I moved towards the door and began making my way down the stairs.

"No, not man. In her final moments your wife knew that, your Susan, mouth to mouth's kiss, as I drew the life from her. Oh, I lusted for her in those last, bright-red minutes but, then, that has always been a weakness of our kind. Our sin was not pride, but lust for humanity. And I chose her, Mr Parker, and I loved her in my way." The voice was now deep and male. It boomed in my ear like the voice of a god, or a devil.

My question was answered by "not man" and "our kind".

The enemies detective Charlie Parker is up against in the first book, and apparently in the rest of the series, are more than flesh and blood, but are demons, or at least demonised human beings.

The trouble is that, in contrast with the books of Charles Williams, the weapons of his warfare are very carnal indeed.


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Reading Progress

April 1, 2019 – Started Reading
April 1, 2019 – Shelved
April 1, 2019 –
page 200
April 4, 2019 – Finished Reading
April 5, 2019 – Started Reading
April 5, 2019 – Shelved as: adventure-thriller
April 5, 2019 – Shelved as: crime-fiction
April 5, 2019 – Shelved as: fantasy
April 5, 2019 – Shelved as: tshwane-library
April 5, 2019 –
page 485

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