The Black Angel
John Connolly
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The Black Angel
John Connolly
Pocket Star
624 pages
January 2006
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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In his latest thriller, John Connolly (Every Dead Thing, The Killing Kind, The White Road, Bad Men) brings back detective Charlie Parker in The Black Angel. It’s a story in which we have some mystery, some drama, and a sprinkling of the supernatural.

Through a rotating third-person and first-person (Charlie’s POV) narrative, the beginning is interesting but somewhat muddled by the constant point-of-view change. The conversational dialogue keeps the pages turning but, in the first few chapters, you could get lost with the books almost too fast pace. But once the constant shifting stops the book settles down and it becomes a better read.

But that aside, the story itself is engaging. Alice is a prostitute that has been kidnapped and her mother, Martha, is out to find her. After searching through the seedy neighborhoods Martha finds a pimp by the name of G-Mack. She shows G-Mack a picture of her daughter Alice, but G-Mack gives Martha the back of his hand, sending her sprawling to the floor. Eventually Martha goes to see Louis, Charlie Parker’s partner, and this is where Parker comes into the story. He offers his help in finding Alice, and this leads them through the underbelly of New York City, to the Mexican border, and to an ossuary chapel in the Czech republic.

The segments written from Alice’s point-of-view really set the tone for the book. You really feel the fear and dread as Alice is being injected with drugs and not having any idea what was going on:

“Two men came to Alice and injected her again. Within minutes her head began to cloud. Her limbs felt heavy, and her head lolled to the right. Her blindfold was removed, and she knew that it was coming to the end. Once her vision had recovered, she could see that one of the men was small and wiry, with a pointed gray beard and thinning gray hair. His skin was tanned, and she guessed that this was the Mexican who had spoken to her in the past. The other was an enormously fat man with a belly that wobbled pendulously between his thighs, obscuring his groin. They lifted her from the bed and placed her in a wheelchair, then wheeled her down a decaying hallway until she was brought at last to a white-tiled room with a drain in the floor. They transferred her to a wooden chair with leather straps to secure her hands and feet, and there they left her, facing her reflection in the long mirror on the wall. For a second, she believed that she was looking at her mother in the glass, and the resemblance made her eyes water.

‘I’m sorry, Momma,’ she said. ‘I don’t mean no harm by it.’

Her hearing became acute, a consequence of the drugs pumping through her system. Before her, her features began to swim, mutating transforming. There were voices whispering around her. She tried to turn her head to follow them, but was unable to do so. Her Paranoia grew. Then the lights died, and she was in total darkness.”
Overall, this is a very interesting thriller that is just a bit too long and vast. The first 60,000 copies of the book come with a bonus CD and are signed by the author.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Bobby Blades, 2005

Also by John Connolly:

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