The Barnes & Noble Review
After winning the 2000 Shamus Award for Best First Private-Eye Novel for Every Dead Thing, John Connolly presents in The Killing Kind an even more caustic, edgier book filled with ravaged, vicious characters.
Former NYPD detective Charlie "Bird" Parker has returned to Maine after the murders of his wife and daughter, which continue to plague him. This time out, Parker is a P.I. hired by an U.S. senator to investigate the supposed suicide of Grace Peltier, a graduate student who was studying a vanished religious community known as the Aroostook Baptists.
Parker soon comes to believe that Grace's studies might somehow have led to her death. His suspicions fall upon another religious cooperative known as the Fellowship, led by the fanatical Elias Pudd. As Parker digs further, he becomes a target of the zealous leader, who uses spiders to maim and murder. He also becomes haunted by the ghost of an Aroostook boy and eventually grows even more obsessed with his own bitterness and undying rage in a presumably godless world.
In a subtle and powerful fashion reminiscent of James Lee Burke and George C. Chesbro, Connolly walks the narrative tightrope between the real and the supernatural. The concept of spiders trained to do an evil occult master's bidding is a powerful tool that drives the wheel of this fierce story. The Killing Kind is as much a meditative exploration of corruption as it is an action-packed mystery, offering readers the best of both intense worlds. A chilling, exceptionally dark yet lyrical novel, The Killing Kind packs a lot of muscle where it counts. Tom Piccirilli
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.
After Every Dead Thing and Dark Hollow, Connolly's damaged P.I. Charlie Parker is back in his third foray into an underworld populated with cruel villains and criminal psychopaths. Parker is a singularly tortured individual who not only sees dead people but feels compelled to seek retribution for their deaths on their behalf. This time around, he is hired to find the killer of a graduate student who had been researching a fundamentalist sect that disappeared into the backwoods of Maine 40 years before. Parker's investigations, ranging from Maine to New York City, draw the ire of some very bad people, who come after him armed with guns, Bibles, and spiders. The Dublin-based Connolly has again written a compelling story full of sadistic bad guys, moral ambiguity, and some serious violence. But he manages to offset some of the unpleasantness with occasional one-liners that manage not to minimize the perversity but make the characters who must deal with it seem more human. Recommended for most popular fiction collections. Lisa Bier, Southern Connecticut State Univ., New Haven Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Detective Charlie Parker (Dark Hollow, 2001, etc.) finds salvation in this uneven tale of his investigation into the death of a graduate student. Connolly opens with a gruesome two-step prologue. First, pro-abortion activist Alison Beck is found murdered, bound to the seat of her car, spiders devouring her body as they spin a galaxy of silver webs throughout her Porsche. Then, utility linemen and construction workers in Maine unearth a pile of darkened bones and skulls. The action subsequently shifts to Boston as former US Senator Jack Mercier hires Parker to investigate the death of Grace Peltier, the daughter of a friend of Mercier's. The police are satisfied to call the shooting a suicide, but Mercier isn't. Peltier had written a thesis about the disappearance in 1964 of the Aroostook Baptists, fundamentalists who had founded a colony in Maine. Parker suspects a link to the Fellowship, a religious organization Peltier had contacted shortly before her death as part of her research. The Fellowship blocks Parker's attempts to interrogate them, as does Elias Pudd, an expert on torture and death by spiders, a grisly subject that Connolly exploits to the point of diminishing effect. Haunted by the murders of his wife and daughter, and taunted by Aroostook ghosts, Parker ponders the evil of vengeful fundamentalists and their perversion of faith, a theme that lends the work heft. Eventually, he deduces that Peltier possessed an object Pudd and other nefarious souls are desperate to retrieve. On a storm-driven night, the investigator pursues them to a coastal island where deadly arachnids crawl everywhere-even from the mouths of living men. Connolly's reflections on evil, the past, andreparation are lyrical and affecting, and his grim fundamentalists send off frissons. But the often-languorous narrative lacks tone and modulation. Author tour