Saturday, 27 October 2012

The White Road by John Connolly (2002)

Elliott Norton gets in touch with Charley Parker because he needs help defending a case in South Carolina.  A young black man has been accused of the rape and murder of his girlfriend, young, white and wealthy Marianne Larousse. Charley is having visions of a car that he knows no longer exists, on a road out of Hell, driven by a man Parker knows is dead. There is a pleasant ambiguity about Parker’s visions or dreams, nothing you can put your finger on, but it definitely gives an added dimension to the writing.

In the meantime, Charley's friends Angel and Louis are on a mission in the South, helping some murderers to atone for their past – at the point of a gun. And while these stories are unfolding, the fanatical preacher Faulkner (introduced in Every Dead Thing) is in a prison cell, planning to take a twisted revenge on Parker through the very men that Parker is hunting.

There is at least one more character in this gallery of grotesques, but he’s so far down the evolutionary scale that he keeps his larder hidden in deep mud. You’ll like Landron Mobley, honest.

I made two mistakes with this book: the first was to read it before Every Dead Thing (if I’d checked, I’d have realised that I was starting with the second book of a series…doh!). My second mistake was waiting so long (months!) before writing it up (I had to spend an hour scanning pages, remembering details and making brief notes before I could attempt this ‘review’).

What the hell, this was a great read.

For anyone who doesn't know, Connolly’s an Irish writer and in 2000 Every Dead Thing copped both a Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel, then a Shamus for Best First Private Eye Novel. Connolly is believed to be the first author from outside the USA to win the award.

The jacket illustration by Mark Harrison is after a detail from an engraving by Veneziano, Allegory of Death and Fame, 1518. Just so's y'know. 

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