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The Whisperers by John Connolly

If there was one thing Jimmy didn't care for, it was competition, ... There were some exceptions to that rule: he was rumored to have a sweet deal with the Mexicans, but he wasn't about to try to reason with the Dominicans, or the Columbians, or the bikers, or even the Mohawks. If they wanted to avail themselves of his services, as they sometimes did, that was fine, but if Jimmy Jewel started questioning their right to move product he and Earle would end up tied to chairs in the [bar] with pieces of themselves scattered by their feet, assuming their feet weren't among the scattered pieces, while the bar burned down around their ears, assuming they still had ears.
from page 86

The Whisperers is John Connolly's newest Charlie Parker installment in which some beloved characters reappear and in which previous characters from another Parker installment reappear to shed further light on the big baddie that may or may not be coming for Parker in the future. This newest installment deals peripherally with how America's treating her veterans, specifically the ones from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the main focus is some veterans who unwittingly brought back some supernatural nastiness from the dusty desert hell that was Iraq. For some reason I'm not sure how I feel about the Iraq war's incursion into Parker's world; for me it just doesn't ring true, and that's really the only aspect of the book that gives me reservations.

Charlie Parker is retained by one Bennett Patchett, a grieving father of an Iraq War veteran who committed suicide. Except everyone who Charlie talks to about this particular veteran maintains that Patchett's son was able to leave the war back in the desert when he returned home and that this particular veteran shouldn't be dead and shouldn't have fallen victim to the skyrocketing suicide rates common to returning veterans and currently serving soldiers. It's Parker's job to look into the personal business and relationship of one of Patchett's employees whom the old man believes is embroiled in a domestic violence situation. The target of the investigation served in Iraq with Patchett's son and the father places the blame for his son's suicide at the feet of this former soldier because his son was involved in whatever scheme his brother in arms was running.

No sooner has Parker begun making inquiries before he attracts the unwanted attention of the former soldier and his soldier buddies who jump Parker one night, torture him for information on why he's snooping, and warn him off the case. Instead of ceasing and desisting, the fires of anger and vengeance burn bright in Parker's soul, and he calls in some heavy duty, scary reinforcements--the kind with lots of guns and that hail from New York. With Angel and Louis on the scene one can hardly wait to see what happens when these two arrive to tangle with the Iraq war veterans who think they're bad-ass.

In a parallel but as yet unconnected storyline: a walking, talking cancerous tumor who goes by the name Herod, among other aliases, exacts a harrowing and cruel punishment upon a subcontractor who's double crossed him. Hot on Herod's heels is the man known as the Collector of souls forfeited. Attached to each of these dubious men are shadowy specters; the Collector is accompanied by the souls of those he's collected over the years, while the malevolent specter attached to Herod has ties to dark beings vanquished by Parker in the past and is called Captain by Herod.

This is suspenseful, thrilling, and page turning and is enhanced by the often delightfully colorful turn of phrase in descriptions of the cast of colorful characters. Once more there are hints in this book of the role Parker is to play in what one might call the ultimate confrontation with the ultimate baddie of the Parker universe: the Captain a.k.a. Mr. Goodkind a.k.a. the evil one known by many names. One can't help but feel slightly apprehensive for the beloved Parker: if even Mr. Goodkind fears Parker then that which is coming for Parker in the future must be some kind of hell in a hand basket that can't end well for our hero.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


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