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THE FURIES by John Connolly


by John Connolly

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-9821-7700-3
Publisher: Emily Bestler/Atria

PI Charlie Parker is back in a pair of short novels with a ghostly twist.

Parker, as his fans know, is an ex-cop and a PI whose wife, Susan, and daughter Jennifer were murdered, and Jennifer’s ghost still haunts him. The characters in both these tales range from the offbeat to the literally Strange: The sisters Dolors and Ambar Strange run Strange Brews, a coffee shop in Portland, Maine, in the first novel, The Sisters Strange. Each yields her bed to a lowlife named Raum Buker, of whom Parker notes, “Gradually, like fecal matter falling down a drain, gravity brought Raum to Portland.” Buker once had a mouth that “resembled the ruins of Dresden” but now has “installment-plan teeth” with what Parker calls a puppy-killing grin. Back in Pennsylvania, a “poisonous” old man named Edwin Ellerkamp is found choked to death, his mouth and throat engorged with coins dating as far back as the seventh and eighth centuries. The killer is a man of indeterminate age (Generations? Centuries?) named Kepler, who desperately seeks one particular coin—“with the right coin,” he believes, “even gods could be bought.” Kepler sees and feels himself rotting away as he reads decades-old newspapers, so maybe finding that precious coin will cure what ails him. In the second novel, The Furies, Parker reluctantly takes on the case of Sarah Abelli, the socially shunned widow of a femicidal killer. Meanwhile, Lyle Pantuff and Gilman Veale stay at Braycott Arms, a “shithole” hotel suitable for their ilk. The woman-hating Pantuff has “one of those faces that couldn't have drawn more cops if it were shaped like a donut and covered with sprinkles.” At one point, he’s “crouched like a gargoyle at the end of his bed.” Veale keeps hearing a child, although none are allowed at Braycott Arms, and it creeps him out. No one can find any child, not even in the basement, so readers will be creeped out too. Maybe it’s a ghost, because someone gets the shock of a lifetime. Connolly skillfully hints at the occult while keeping Parker grounded and sane. The author imbues both stories with melancholy and deft touches of dark humor.

As with all the Charlie Parker books, this is fine fodder for crime fans.