His two previous novels, Every Dead Thing and Dark Hollow, were international bestsellers. Now the "compulsively readable" (Publishers Weekly) John Connolly confirms his position as one of our leading crime novelists with a story of superb menace and style.
The body of Grace Peltier, a brilliant Ph.D. candidate, is found in the front seat of her car on a back road in northern Maine. No one wants to believe it was suicide -- not her father, not former U.S. senator Jack Mercier, and not private detective Charlie Parker, who has been hired to investigate the young woman's untimely death.
But when a mass grave is accidentally discovered nearby, revealing the grim truth behind the disappearance of a religious community known as the Aroostook Baptists, Parker realizes that their deaths and the violent passing of Grace Peltier are part of the same mystery, one that has its roots in her family history and in the origins of the shadowy organization known as the Fellowship. Soon Parker is drawn into the dark world of this zealous religious group that has already consumed every person who has dared confront it. When a relic is discovered, one capable of linking the Fellowship to the slaughter of the Aroostook Baptists, Parker is forced into violent conflict with the Fellowship and its enigmatic leader. Haunted by the ghost of a small boy and tormented by the demonic killer known as Mr. Pudd, Parker is forced to fight for his lover, his friends...and his very soul.
"This is a honeycomb world. It hides a hollow heart," writes John Connolly. In The Killing Kind, he has once again created a world of love and hate, of tenderness and violence. Hailed by critics as "one of the best of the genre" (Toronto Sun), his intense, poetic prose and his terrifying clan of characters are sure to thrill even the most discerning suspense reader.
Move over, Spider-Man. Arachnophobes, proceed at your own peril. Elias Pudd, the archfiend in Connolly's masterful third suspense novel (following Every Dead Thing and Dark Hollow) finds such grizzly uses for spiders of all, er, stripes that he makes that dastardly villain Hannibal Lecter seem like Little Lord Fauntleroy. Pudd, however, is just one in a splendidly drawn cast that propels this gripping, intricately plotted tale. When a road crew in northern Maine accidentally unearths a grave site, the bodies turn out to be members of the Aroostook Baptists, a cultlike religious group whose members disappeared in the 1960s. Meanwhile, private investigator Charlie Parker (from the earlier novels) is hired to investigate the suspicious suicide of Grace Peltier, who was working on a graduate thesis concerning-guess what -the Aroostook Baptists. Further muddying the waters is the Fellowship, a group led by the supremely unctuous Carter Paragon (nee Chester Quincy Deedes, "the name on his birth certificate and his criminal record"), which turns out to be far more sinister than anyone realized. From Connolly's opening words-"This is a honeycomb world. It hides a hollow heart"-it's clear that this is no ordinary thriller; indeed, his random musings on the manifestations of evil, coupled with Parker's visions and flashbacks, lend the book a dark, intriguing overlay. Lest things become too intense, however, the author's wry sense of humor easily lightens the situation, often harking back to earlier noir writers: "she had the kind of body that caused highway pileups after Sunday services." In his novel's acknowledgments, Connolly modestly writes, "As each novel progresses, the depths of my ignorance become more and more apparent." Also becoming more apparent are the depths of this author's psychological acumen, literary skills and prodigious creativity. (Sept.) Forecast: Connolly, an Irishman who writes American suspense better than most American writers, should charm readers on his 15-city tour. Expect The Killing Kind, released around the same time as the mass market paperback of Dark Hollow, to knock his sales up a few notches. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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March 01, 2003
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Excerpt from The Killing Kind by John Connolly
It was spring, and color had returned to the world.
The distant mountains were transforming, the gray trees now cloaking themselves in new life, their leaves a faded echo of fall's riot. The scarlets of the red maples were dominant, but they were being joined now by the greenish yellow leaves of the red oaks; the silver of the bigtooth aspens; and the greens of the quaking aspens, the birches, and the beeches. Poplars and willows, elms and hazelnuts were all bursting into full bloom, and the woods were ringing with the noise of returning birds.
I could see the woods from the gym at One City Center, the tips of the evergreens still dominating the landscape amid the slowly transforming seasonals. Rain was falling on the streets of Portland and umbrellas swarmed on the streets below, glistening darkly like the carapaces of squat black beetles.
For the first time in many months, I felt good. I was in semiregular employment. I was eating well, working out three or four days each week, and Rachel Wolfe was coming up from Boston for the weekend, so I would have someone to admire my improving physique. I hadn't suffered bad dreams for some time. My dead wife and my lost daughter had not appeared to me since the previous Christmas, when they touched me amid the falling snow and gave me some respite from the visions that had haunted me for so long.
I completed a set of military presses and laid the bar down, sweat dripping from my nose and rising in little wisps of steam from my body. Seated on a bench, sipping some water, I watched the two men enter from the reception area, glance around, then fix on me. They wore conservative dark suits with somber ties. One was large, with brown wavy hair and a thick mustache, like a porn star gone to seed, the bulge of the gun in the cheap rig beneath his jacket visible to me in the mirror behind him. The other was smaller, a tidy, dapper man with receding, prematurely graying hair. The big man held a pair of shades in his hand while his companion wore a pair of gold-rimmed eyeglasses with square frames. He smiled as he approached me.
"Mr. Parker?" he asked, his hands clasped behind his back.
I nodded and the hands disengaged, the right extending toward me in a sharp motion like a shark making its way through familiar waters.
"My name is Quentin Harrold, Mr. Parker," he said. "I work for Mr. Jack Mercier."
I wiped my own right hand on a towel to remove some of the sweat, then accepted the handshake. Harrold's mouth quivered a little as my still sweaty palm gripped his, but he resisted the temptation to wipe his hand clean on the side of his trousers. I guessed that he didn't want to spoil the crease.
Jack Mercier came from money so old that some of it had jangled on the Mayflower. He was a former U.S. senator, as his father and grandfather had been before him, and lived in a big house out on Prouts Neck overlooking the sea. He had interests in timber companies, newspaper publishing, cable television, software, and the Internet. In fact, he had interests in just about anything that might ensure the Merciers' old money was regularly replenished with injections of new money. As a senator he had been something of a liberal and he still supported various ecological and civil rights groups through generous donations.