A Charlie Parker Mystery by John Connolly
Review: An improbable series of suicides in a remote area of Maine — all of former soldiers that served in Iraq — is related to former NYPD homicide detective, now private investigator Charlie Parker's current case, in The Whisperers, the tenth mystery that combines hard-boiled detective fiction with supernatural overtones in this series by John Connolly.
Parker's case seems simple enough: the owner of a local diner, Bennett Patchett, suspects one of his employees, who he considers part of his extended family, is being beaten by one Joel Tobias, and he wants to know more about him. Parker quickly learns Tobias, an Iraqi war veteran now driving a truck, has a lot of expenses but apparently more than enough income — and not all of it from hauling goods. "Bennett had said that Tobias traveled back and forth between Maine and Canada. Canada meant a border crossing, and a border meant smuggling." But before Parker can catch up with Tobias, he discovers that a number of his war buddies have died — all suicides, and all involved in smuggling. What was once a straight-forward investigation becomes a byzantine nightmare for Parker as he attempts to unravel a network of international traffickers in stolen artifacts.
The storyline in The Whisperers is intriguingly complex, though the mix of first- and third-person chapters, of which some of the latter seem to have little to do with the currently presented sequence of events, is a bit disjointed. The obliquely developed supernatural elements — including those tenuously tied to post-traumatic stress disorder — don't help much in this regard either, tending to introduce unnecessary conflict and contribute confusion, instead of helping transition the story from one plot point to the next.
And while the overall story arc is handled well, and most especially the whodunit aspect to the smuggling operation, Parker's "deal with the devil" to battle a new evil seems somewhat contrived. As is this ominous passage that appears towards the end: "There were no coincidences, [I] knew, not where Parker was concerned. He was part of something that he did not understand; that, in truth, [I] did not fully understand either." Still, Connolly's seamless crossing of the line between mystery and horror — and back again — is something that he excels at, and The Whisperers will likely not disappoint fans of either genre.
Acknowledgment: Atria Books provided a copy of The Whisperers for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Burning Soul
Atria Books (Hardcover), September 2011
ISBN-13: 9781439165270; ISBN-10: 1439165270
Location(s) referenced in The Whisperers: Maine
— ♦ —
The Whisperers by John Connolly — A Charlie Parker Mystery
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: July 2010
List Price: $26.00
— ♦ —
Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
Mysterious Reviews is a Division of
The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books
and a Business Unit of the
Omnimystery Family of Mystery Websites