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by John Connolly
Hodder & Stoughton, July 2009
400 pages
17.99 GBP
ISBN: 034093669X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Some writers seem like slow burners, but you know they're going to be worth sticking with and John Connolly falls into this category. It also took a while for me to be convinced that he was doing the genre side of his writing justice. After all, if you get filed under crime fiction, expect to be measured by those standards

Admittedly his work's not easy to categorise there are echoes of horror and (deep breath) literary fiction in the mix. But Connolly combines all the elements to stunning effect to produce truly chilling and menacing books that are almost impossible to forget.

In THE LOVERS, series character Charlie Parker has been stripped of his PI licence and is working in a Portland bar. He's got the police keeping a very close eye on him and is determined to stay out of trouble. With Parker, though, that's easier said than done, given the mental and physical ghosts that stalk him.

And he has personal ghosts to lay to rest in the shape of his policeman father, who shot a boy and a girl whilst on duty, and later took his own life. Parker's investigations open up a past built on terror and lies.

THE LOVERS is the ninth book in the series (if you count BAD MEN, where Parker makes a fleeting appearance) and shows absolutely no sign of running out of steam. In fact, the series grows richer and the characters more complex, the further Connolly gets into it.

With each outing we learn a little more about Parker and his mysterious sidekicks Louis and Angel (who take more of a back seat after their adventures in the superlative THE REAPERS) but never feel that information is being withheld unreasonably. Connolly isn't a writer who's bothered about scoring points or showing how clever he is he has a story to tell and ensures that the reader lives every second of it with him.

One or two of the earlier books lacked immediacy at times as Connolly tended to favour tell instead of show. He's overcome that habit, moving the narrative on inexorably and pervading it with the true menace and evil that so many writers fail to achieve.

As a crime novel, THE LOVERS is up with the best. As a compelling and frightening gothic tale, told in the darkest, richest and most lush language, it is a stunning achievement.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, July 2009

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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