Books: Hell to Pay on the Mean Streets of Crime ; the Black Angel by John Connolly HODDER & STOUGHTON Pounds 14.99 (4466Pp) Pounds 13.99 (Free P&p) from 0870 079 8897
Kaveney, Roz, The Independent (London, England)
The forcefulness of John Connolly's thrillers has always had to do with the sense that they were as much about theology as forensic pathology. His ghost-driven detective, Charlie Parker, has found himself up against a variety of multiple killers, and has always had a sense that he was not seeing the whole battle. Connolly's villains " the Travelling Man, who turns living people into anatomical engravings, or Faulkner, the preacher who steals bones and skin to make books of the Apocalypse " have always been dark angels. In this fifth book, Parker finally finds himself up against the powers and principalities he has always, in truth, been fighting.
Connolly's books take place in a dark world of political corruption and religion acting as a mask for worse things, in which the only hope was moments of grace, love and laughter. The Black Angel returns Parker to the gloom that followed the slaughter of his first family. His new partner, Rachel, decides that she has had enough of the threatening world of shadows and that the father of her new child should quit it too. We are faced with the possibility that Parker's obsession with righting injustice is merely a pretext for a taste for killing.
The company he loyally keeps is not that of a virtuous man. The semi- retired hit-man Louis asks Parker for help when his junkie- whore cousin goes missing. Parker knows that keeping Louis and his pudgy lover, Angel, from murderously punishing all those who betrayed Alice is a lost hope, and still goes along for the ride. Connolly's sense of the world of low- rent pimps is just as intense and poetic as his excursions into the Gothic. …