The Wrath of Angels (Charlie Parker Series #11)

The Wrath of Angels (Charlie Parker Series #11)

3.9 27
by John Connolly
     
 

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In the depths of the Maine woods, the wreckage of a plane is discovered. There are no bodies, and no such plane has ever been reported missing, but men both good and evil have been seeking it for a long, long time.

What the wreckage conceals is more important than money. It is power: a list of names, a record of those who have struck a deal with the devil. Now

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Overview

In the depths of the Maine woods, the wreckage of a plane is discovered. There are no bodies, and no such plane has ever been reported missing, but men both good and evil have been seeking it for a long, long time.

What the wreckage conceals is more important than money. It is power: a list of names, a record of those who have struck a deal with the devil. Now a battle is about to commence between those who want the list to remain secret and those for whom it represents a crucial weapon in the struggle against the forces of darkness.

The race to secure the prize draws in private detective Charlie Parker, a man who knows more than most about the nature of the terrible evil that seeks to impose itself on the world, and who fears that his own name may be on the list. It lures others, too: a beautiful, scarred woman with a taste for killing; a silent child who remembers his own death; and a serial killer known as the Collector, who sees in the list new lambs for his slaughter. But as the rival forces descend upon this northern state, the woods prepare to meet them, for the forest depths hide other secrets.

Someone has survived the crash. Something has survived the crash.

And it is waiting. . . .

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Strongly recommended for plot, characterization, authenticity . . . horror . . . and humanity.”

“A great read.”

“Memorable . . . it takes readers on a path they truly won’t believe, offering diehard evil from the first to the last page . . . Connolly has once again delivered an all-out thrill ride!”

“Connolly leaves us wanting more.”

“I believe that I have already read what is sure to be one of the best books to be published this year: THE WRATH OF ANGELS . . . Read this with the lights on and the doors locked.”

“A great, epic time spent with friends and enemies.”

“Connolly’s superb fusion of noir and the supernatural is to be savored, and not to be missed.”

“It kept me captivated throughout and wowed me with all its revelations . . . The Wrath of Angels marks itself as a high point of the Charlie Parker series.”

Publishers Weekly
From its ominous first pages, Connolly’s 11th Charlie Parker thriller (after 2011’s Every Dead Thing) takes readers on a gruesomely entertaining ride. Marielle Vetters, to honor her late father Harlan’s wishes, meets PI Charlie in Portland, Maine, to tell him of Harlan’s discovery, during a hunting trip in the woods outside their small town of Falls End, of a crashed plane with ,000 and a short typewritten list of morally compromised public figures aboard. Charlie’s interest is piqued by hearing that the serial killer Brightwell, who murdered the detective’s wife and son, also came looking for the wreck. Later, Charlie learns of the existence of an alternate version of the list, apparently of souls belonging to the devil, that includes his name. Efficiently sketched characters, both old (e.g., the psychopathic self-styled avenger, the Collector) and new (e.g., the badly scarred but beautiful Darina Flores), bring to life Connolly’s portentous but exciting fusion of the occult and the hard-boiled. Agent: Darley Anderson, Darley Anderson Literary. (Jan.)
Booklist
“A great read.”
Suspense Magazine
“Memorable . . . it takes readers on a path they truly won’t believe, offering diehard evil from the first to the last page . . . Connolly has once again delivered an all-out thrill ride!”
Florida Times-Union
“Connolly leaves us wanting more.”
Bookreporter.com
“I believe that I have already read what is sure to be one of the best books to be published this year: THE WRATH OF ANGELS . . . Read this with the lights on and the doors locked.”
Mystery People
“A great, epic time spent with friends and enemies.”
My Bookish Ways
“Connolly’s superb fusion of noir and the supernatural is to be savored, and not to be missed.”
Fantasy Book Critic
“It kept me captivated throughout and wowed me with all its revelations . . . The Wrath of Angels marks itself as a high point of the Charlie Parker series.”
Library Journal
The Poe-esque opening line launches another somber, disturbing narrative from Connolly, who writes seamlessly about an array of forces both criminal and supernatural, killings, and torture alongside the plethora of more prosaic human failings that he delineates so compassionately. The novel's focus is a small airplane that crashed in Maine's Great North Woods near the atmospherically named town of Falls End. Here is a zone where magnetic forces are askew, where the lost soul of a child wanders, where an altar to idolatry is constructed. Private eye Charlie Parker in his 12th outing (after The Burning Soul) is trying to locate the plane and retrieve from it a list of names, thereby preventing that list from falling into the wrong hands. VERDICT Though scarred by murder, grief, despair, separation, physical and psychic wounds, loss, and revenge, Parker—whose resilience itself verges on the supernatural—shines in his fundamental decency. Strongly recommended for plot, characterization, authenticity, angels, gay assassination team, horror, humor, and humanity. [See Prepub Alert, 7/15/12.]—Seamus Scanlon, Ctr. for Worker Education, CUNY
Kirkus Reviews
Connolly's antihero, former cop turned private detective Charlie Parker, continues his fight against the forces of darkness in this supernatural thriller. Parker isn't so much a man on a mission as one whose missions find him, much like a stray dog following home a schoolboy. And although he doesn't go looking for trouble, he's not averse to taking it on, even if it comes to the Backers, a shadowy group that supports what Parker and his confederates believe to be a movement of fallen angels expelled from the heavens and capable of evil in unimaginable proportions. The former angels take on many forms and corrupt the corruptible among men by promising their hearts' desires, foremost of which are success and power. Parker becomes entangled with these forces one more time when two individuals at a local bar offer a strange tale about a plane crashed deep in the Maine woods, a bizarre and frightening child that haunts it, and a list of names that might shine a light on some of the dark forces moving about. Parker soon finds himself searching for the rest of that list with the help, and hindrance, of an unlikely ally, as well as a frightening competitor who is contemplating putting Parker and his sweetly homicidal buddies, Louis and Angel, on his to-do list. Add in a once beautiful but now ruined woman with a heart as black as the woods and a child that isn't a child, and the author sets the stage for another one of Parker's adventures into otherworldly events. Connolly's Parker is wry, and the writing is particularly engaging when he brings Louis and Angel into the picture. This story inspires both a shudder or 20 and the vaguely realized idea that as far out as Connolly's stories can sometimes be, there is always the possibility that he could be onto something. And, if he is, then we're all in a whole lot of trouble. Connolly's Parker remains an interesting character, but Connolly's books are infinitely more enjoyable when he refrains from political moralizing.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781476703039
Publisher:
Pocket Books
Publication date:
11/26/2013
Series:
Charlie Parker Series, #11
Pages:
528
Sales rank:
101,304
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER

I

At the time of his dying, at the day and the hour of it, Harlan Vetters summoned his son and his daughter to his bedside. The old man’s long gray hair was splayed against the pillow on which he lay, glazed by the lamplight, so that it seemed like the emanations of his departing spirit. His breathing was shallow; longer and longer were the pauses between each intake and exhalation, and soon they would cease entirely. The evening gloaming was slowly descending, but the trees were still visible through the bedroom window, the sentinels of the Great North Woods, for old Harlan had always said that he lived at the very edge of the frontier, that his home was the last place before the forest held sway.

It seemed to him now that, as his strength failed him, so too his power to keep nature at bay was ebbing. There were weeds in his yard, and brambles among his rosebushes. The grass was patchy and unkempt; it needed one final mow before the coming of winter, just as the stubble on his own chin rasped uncomfortably against his fingers, for the girl could not shave him as well as he had once shaved himself. Fallen leaves lay uncollected like the flakes of dry skin that peeled from his hands and his face, scattering themselves upon his sheets. He saw decline through his window, and decline in his mirror, but in only one was there the promise of rebirth.

The girl claimed that she had enough to do without worrying about bushes and trees, and the boy was still too angry to perform even this simple service for his dying father, but to Harlan these things were important. There was a battle to be fought, an ongoing war against nature’s attritional impulse. If everyone thought as his daughter did, houses would be overrun by root and ivy, and towns would vanish beneath seas of brown and green. A man had only to open his eyes in this county to see the ruins of old dwellings suffocated in green, or open his ears to hear the names of settlements that no longer existed, lost somewhere in the depths of the forest.

So nature needed to be held back, and the trees had to be kept to their domain.

The trees, and what dwelled among them.

Harlan was not a particularly religious man, and had always poured scorn on those whom he termed “God-botherers”—Christian, Jew, or Muslim, he had no time for any of them—but he was, in his way, a deeply spiritual being, worshipping a god whose name was whispered by leaves and praised in birdsong. He had been a warden with the Maine Forest Service for forty years, and even after his retirement his knowledge and expertise had often been sought by his successors, for few knew these woods as well as he. It was Harlan who had found twelve-year-old Barney Shore after the boy’s father collapsed while hunting, his heart exploding so quickly in his chest that he was dead within seconds of hitting the ground. The boy, in shock and unused to the woods, had wandered north, and when the snow began to descend he had hidden himself beneath a fallen tree, and would surely have died there had Harlan not been following his tracks, so that the boy heard the old man calling his name just as the snow covered the traces of his passing.

It was to Harlan, and to Harlan alone, that Barney Shore told the tale of the girl in the woods, a girl with sunken eyes, and wearing a black dress, who had come to him with the first touch of snow, inviting him to follow her deeper into the woods, calling on him to play with her in the northern darkness.

“But I hid from her, and I didn’t go with her,” Barney told Harlan, as the old man carried him south upon his back.

“Why not, son?” said Harlan.

“Because she wasn’t a little girl, not really. She just looked like one. I think she was very old. I think she’d been there for a long, long time.”

And Harlan had nodded and said, “I think you’re right,” for he had heard tales of the lost girl in the woods, although he had never seen her himself, unless bad dreams counted, and he prayed to his god of air and tree and leaf that he might be spared the sight of her. There was a time, though, when he had felt her presence, and he had known as he was searching for the boy that he was once again drawing close to her territory.

He shuddered and thought carefully before he spoke.

“If I were you, son, I wouldn’t mention the girl to anyone else,” he said at last, and he felt the boy nod against him.

“I know,” he said. “They wouldn’t believe me anyway, would they?”

“No. I reckon they’d think you were suffering from shock and exposure, and they’d put it down to that, most of them.”

“But you believe me, don’t you?”

“Oh yes, I believe you.”

“She was real, wasn’t she?”

“I don’t know if that’s the word I’d use for her. I don’t reckon that you could touch her or smell her or feel her breath upon your face. I don’t know that you could see her footprints indented in the snow, or discern the stain of sap and leaf upon her skin. But if you’d followed her like she asked I’d never have found you, and I’m certain that nobody else would ever have found you either, alive or dead. You did well to keep away from her. You’re a good boy, a brave boy. Your daddy would be proud.”

Against his back began the convulsions of the boy’s sobs. It was the first time he had cried since Harlan discovered him. Good, thought Harlan. The longer it takes for the tears to come, the worse the pain.

“Will you find my daddy too?” said the boy. “Will you bring him home? I don’t want him to stay in the woods. I don’t want the girl to have him.”

“Yes,” said Harlan. “I’ll find him, and you can say goodbye to him.”

And he did.

Harlan was already in his seventies by then, and had a few more years left in him, but he was no longer the man he once had been, even though he, and he alone, had found Barney Shore. Age was part of it, that was for sure, but so too were the losses he had endured. His wife, Angeline, had been taken from him by a cruel alliance of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s one year before Barney Shore spoke to him of predatory girls. He had loved her as much as a man can love his wife, and so nothing more need be said.

The loss of his wife was the second such blow that Harlan would receive in less than a year. Shortly after she passed away, Paul Scollay, Harlan’s oldest and closest friend, had sat on a bucket in the little woodshed at the back of his cabin, put his shotgun in his mouth, and pulled the trigger. The cancer had been nibbling at him for a while, and now had got a taste for him. He put an end to its feeding, as he had always told his friend that he would. They had shared a drink earlier in the day—just a beer or two at the pine table beside that very woodshed with the sun setting behind the trees, as beautiful an evening as Harlan had seen in many a year. They had reminisced some, and Paul had seemed relaxed and at peace with himself, which was how Harlan had known that the end was near. He did not remark upon it, though. They had simply shaken hands and Harlan had said that he would see Paul around, and Paul had replied, “Ayuh. I guess so,” and that was the end of it.

And though they spoke of many things in those final hours, there was one subject upon which they did not touch, one memory that was not disinterred. They had agreed years before that they would not talk of it unless absolutely necessary, but it hung between them in the last of their time together as the sun bathed them in its radiance, like the promise of forgiveness from a god in whom neither of them believed.

And so it was that at the time of his dying, at the day and the hour of it, Harlan Vetters summoned his son and his daughter to his bedside, the woods waiting beyond, the god of tree and leaf moving through them, coming at last to claim the old man, and he said to them:

“Once upon a time, Paul Scollay and I found an airplane in the Great North Woods. . . . ”

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