After his fourth Charlie Parker private investigator entry, The White Road (2003), the Irish Connolly offers a supernatural chiller to brighten his dark-veined Americana.
Connolly writes like a poet, or perhaps like the murky Faulkner of Absalom, Absalom!, stretching scenes out with an unbearable load of neurological and psychic cloudwrack. He opens strongly, though, with a dream three centuries past on Sanctuary Island off the coast of Maine. The dreamer: the vengeful Moloch, a murderer/bank robber/extortionist now in prison, who recalls the slaughter, in 1693, of Casco Bay islanders by a villainous group seemingly led by Moloch himself. Later, settlers on the upthrust now called Dutch Island have had three hundred years of peace. But then Moloch escapes jail and, along with some ghastly mates, Willard, Dexter, Shepherd and Scarfe, heads toward Dutch Island to rain blood down on Marianne Elliot, his battered wife, who hides on Dutch with little son Danny and Moloch’s money and gun. Protecting Marianne looms the seven foot two giant Melancholy Joe Dupree, Dutch’s police officer. Weird stuff on the island foretells Moloch’s approach: teenaged lovers Wayne Cady and Sylvie Lauter die while out joyriding, the girl’s last words being about dead people and the dancing lights surrounding them. Bonnie Claeson’s son Richie, an adult with the mind of an eight-year-old (gee, like Isaac Snopes and Benjy the idiot), wanders about the island and also sees lights in the forest. Soon, Connolly has drawn well over a dozen characters, including little Danny’s buddy, the inept old painter “Jack” Giacometti, and Karen Meyers, and Bill and Patricia Gaddis, so that Moloch’s baddies will have someone to behead or impale or crunch while Moloch lives out his dream of revenge and slaughter. The phone lines are down, and a big January snowstorm should hit tonight.
A stylish darkness sucks you under.