To those who have been forsaken, hell has no geography.
The Black Angel begins with the disappearance of a young prostitute from one of New York City's seamiest neighborhoods. Like so many tormented souls before her, the girl's mother is inevitably drawn to Charlie Parker's doorstep desperate for redemption and revenge. Despite the danger that his chosen profession imposes on his wife and newborn daughter, Parker knows that the woman and her troubles cannot be ignored. As always, he is driven as much by the evil that simmers in the hidden honeycomb world as he is by the ties of friendship and blood.
As Parker gets closer to the girl's captors, he discovers that her disappearance is linked to a church of bones in Eastern Europe, to the slaughter at a French monastery in 1944, and to the myth of an object known as the Black Angel -- an object considered by evil men to be beyond priceless. But the Black Angel is not a legend. It is real. It lives. It dreams. And the mystery of its existence may contain the secret of Parker's own origins.
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May 30, 2005
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Excerpt from The Black Angel by John Connolly
The woman stepped carefully from the Greyhound bus, her right hand holding firmly on to the bar as she eased herself down. A relieved sigh escaped from her lips once both feet were on level ground, the relief that she always felt when a simple task was negotiated without incident. She was not old?she was barely into her fifties?but she looked, and felt, much older. She had endured a great deal, and accumulated sorrows had intensified the predations of the years. Her hair was silver-gray, and she had long since ceased making the monthly trek to the salon to have its color altered. There were horizontal lines stretching from the corner of each eye, like healed wounds, paralleled by similar lines on her forehead. She knew how she had come by them, for occasionally she caught herself wincing as if in pain while she looked in the mirror or saw herself reflected in the window of a store, and the depth of those lines increased with the transformation in her expression. It was always the same thoughts, the same memories, that caused the change, and always the same faces that she recalled: the boy, now a man; her daughter, as she once was and as she now might be; and the one who had made her little girl upon her, his face sometimes contorted, as it was at the moment of her daughter's conception, and at other times tattered and destroyed, as it was before they closed the coffin lid upon him, erasing at last his physical presence from the world.
Nothing, she had come to realize, will age a woman faster than a troubled child. In recent years, she had become prone to the kind of accidents that bedeviled the lives of women two or three decades older than she, and took longer to recover from them than once she had. It was the little things that she had to look out for: unanticipated curbs, neglected cracks in the sidewalk, the unexpected jolting of a bus as she rose from her seat, the forgotten water spilled upon the kitchen floor. She feared these things more than she feared the young men who congregated in the parking lot of the strip mall near her home, watching for the vulnerable, for those whom they considered easy prey. She knew that she would never be one of their victims, as they were more afraid of her than they were of the police, or of their more vicious peers, for they knew of the man who waited in the shadows of her life. A small part of her hated the fact that they feared her, even as she enjoyed the protection that it brought. Her protection was hard bought, purchased, she believed, with the loss of a soul.