In his first collection of short fiction, New York Times bestselling author John Connolly offers a selection of dark, daring, and utterly haunting tales. Here are lost lovers and missing children, predatory demons, and vengeful ghosts. In "The New Daughter," a father comes to suspect that a burial mound on his land hides something very ancient, and very much alive; in "The Underbury Witches," a pair of London detectives find themselves battling a particularly female evil in a town culled of its menfolk. And finally, private detective Charlie Parker returns in the long novella "The Reflecting Eye," in which the photograph of an unknown girl turns up in the mailbox of an abandoned house once occupied by an infamous killer. This discovery forces Parker to confront the possibility that the house is not as empty as it appears, and that something has been waiting in the darkness for its chance to kill again.
In these stories, Connolly ratchets up the tension to almost unbearable -- and irresistible -- levels. Nocturnes is a deliciously chilling collection from "one of the best thriller writers we have" (Harlan Coben).
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1 . Outstanding!
Posted January 16, 2008 by screamingbolshevik , LAI am a fan of horror anthologies...generally picking up any that I come across. Usually I do well to find 2 or 3 good stories in any given collection. In the case of Nocturnes however, every single story in the collection is a gem (including the two novellas). I have never read John Connolly before, and browsing through his other works it appears that he's a crime mystery writer. This is most unfortunate for me, as I think he's the best writer of horror short fiction since Richard Matheson. I highly recommend this book, I wish I could give it a higher rating than 5.
March 21, 2005
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Excerpt from Nocturnes by John Connolly
The rutted track was playing hell with Jerry Schneider's shocks. He could feel every cleft and furrow ramming hard into the base of his spine and shooting up to the top of his skull, so that by the time the farmhouse came into view he already had the beginnings of a raging headache. Migraines were his affliction, and he hoped this wasn't about to be the start of one of them. He had work to do, and those damn things left him near puking on his bed, just wishing to die.
Jerry didn't much care for the detour to the Benson farm at the best of times. They were religious nutcases, the whole bunch of 'em: a family of seven, living pretty much apart from the rest of the world, keeping mostly to themselves except when they headed into town to buy supplies, or when Jerry made his twice-weekly call to pick up a load of free-range eggs and a selection of their homemade cheeses. Jerry thought the cheeses stank to high heaven, and he only ate his eggs scrambled and with enough salt to empty the Dead Sea, but the new wealthy who flocked to the state during both summer and winter swore by the taste of the Bensons' cheese and eggs and were prepared to pay top dollar for them at Vern Smolley's place. Vern was a smart one, Jerry would give him that: he'd spotted the gap in the market straight off and transformed the rear of his general store into a kind of gourmet's paradise. Jerry sometimes had trouble even finding a space in which to park, Vern's lot being filled to the brim with Lexuses, salesroom-polished Mercedes convertibles, and, in winter, the kind of snazzy 4WDs that only rich people drove, with a smattering of designer mud on them for that authentic country look.
The Bensons would have no truck with folks like that. Their old Ford was held together with string and faith, and their clothes were thrift store when they weren't hand made by Ma Benson or one of the girls. In fact, Jerry sometimes wondered how they squared selling their food to the kind of people they regarded as being on a one-way express ride to hell. He wasn't about to ask Bruce Benson himself, though. Jerry tried to avoid having much conversation at all with Bruce, since the old man used any kind of opening as an opportunity to peddle his own particular brand of God-hugging. For some reason, Bruce seemed to believe that Jerry Schneider could still be saved. Jerry didn't share Bruce's faith. He liked drinking, smoking, and screwing around, and last he heard, those pursuits didn't much enter into the Bensons' scheme for salvation. So twice each week Jerry would drive his truck up that migraine minefield of a track, pick up the eggs and cheese with the minimum of fuss or talk, then head back down the track at a slightly slower pace, since Vern would take breakages of more than 10 percent out of Jerry's fee.
Jerry Schneider never felt as if he had quite settled back into life in Colorado, not since he'd come back from the East Coast to look after his mother. That was the curse of being an only child: there was no one to share the burden, nobody to take some of the strain. The old woman was becoming forgetful, and she had taken some bad falls, so Jerry did what he had to do and returned to his childhood home. Now it seemed like every week some new misfortune befell her: twisted ankles, bruised ribs, torn muscles. Those kinds of injuries would take some of the steam out of Jerry, and he was near thirty years younger than his mama. Inflict them on a woman of seventy-five, with osteoporosis in her legs and arthritis in her elbows, and it was a miracle that she was still standing.