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by John Connolly
Hodder & Stoughton, May 2007
480 pages
14.99 GBP
ISBN: 0340920483

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

If you want to sum up a John Connolly crime novel, you're likely to find a large dose of the supernatural, a hefty dash of mystery, lots of angst for the PI hero Charlie Parker, a sinister blast from his past and a fixation with TS Eliot. And THE UNQUIET is no exception.

The series is like your very worst nightmare. As you are pulled into the dark, Gothic prose, sinister figures who may or may not be there hover on the edge of your consciousness, haunting the reader as much as poor, beleaguered Charlie.

Connolly, an Irishman who sets his novels in Maine in the US, is perhaps the most imaginative writer in the genre. In the past I've wondered as to whether crime fiction is his natural home, but there's no doubt that THE UNQUIET is superlative writing and a book that isn't constrained by boundaries.

The plot, when reduced to a reviewer's bare bones summary, sounds pretty workaday Charlie is called in to protect Rebecca Clay after a sinister man named Merrick starts asking pushy questions about her father. Daniel Clay, a psychologist caught up in a child abuse scandal, is missing, presumed dead.

Once Charlie and his sidekicks Angel and Louis start asking questions about Merrick, they unearth something deeper and nastier and flush out a frightening figure from Charlie's past.

Connolly's a highly literary writer, not only because of the richness of his prose but also taking in the hero's name, the chapter headings, the textual references (this time including the Hollow Men) and the really very cool CD accompanying the book.

The latter, which includes an eclectic mix of Americana, new folk and electronica music by the likes of Willard Grant Conspiracy, The Delgados and Sufjan Stevens, is truly a soundtrack for the action. On the sleevenotes Connolly says: " it enables readers to hear some of the songs that have been referred to in the book, either in the course of the narrative or as signposts to the action to come."

The music is an absolutely perfect accompaniment to the book, and makes me want to go and riffle through Connolly's record collection as well as his book shelves!

It's not often you can say that a book is a must-read and a must-hear, but THE UNQUIET and the CD fit that category. It's a book I simply had to keep reading, despite knowing I wasn't going to like what happened at the end! In the past I've felt Connolly has occasionally erred on the side of too much tell and not enough show. You can't accuse him of that in this book, where everything comes together to create an absolutely potent brew.

It sets up, too, a must-read next outing for poor old Charlie who, you suspect, will never be at peace and destined for ever more to answer his conscience and tangle with these real and imagined demons.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, May 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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