Monday, April 17, 2017

Review of "The Whisperers" by John Connolly

Odd things are going on in Maine. Several veterans of the Iraq war, including Damien Patchett, have recently committed suicide. Damien's father, diner owner Bennett Patchett - stricken by his son's death - has other problems as well. He's worried that his waitress is being abused by her boyfriend Joel Tobias, who happens to be Damien's former platoon mate. So Bennett hires PI Charlie Parker to check out Tobias, hoping the investigation also casts light on his son's suicide.

Parker's investigation of Tobias reveals that a cadre of Iraq war veterans are using a semi-truck to smuggle things across the Maine border - from Canada to the United States. The reader (though not Parker) soon learns that the 'things' are treasures looted from Baghdad's Museum of Antiquities. Unfortunately for the looters the stolen riches are far from benign. They harbor evil spirits - 'whisperers' - that drive people who come in contact with them to suicide.

The smuggling operation catches the attention of Maine mobster Jimmy Jewel, who wants a piece of the action. Others are also interested in the stolen goods including Mexican gangsters; a curator of the Baghdad museum; Herod - an obsessed, cancer-ridden man guided by an evil wraith called 'The Captain'; and 'The Collector' - a demon known to Charlie Parker. The latter parties are particularly interested in a mysterious item called 'Pandora's Box' which - if opened - could unleash chaos on the world.

The stolen antiquities cause a spate of mayhem - including torture and murder - as the veterans try to profit from their loot while other parties try to wrest the goodies away from them. There are also eerie occurences where spirits drive people crazy and make them do odd and deadly things. Some of these supernatural scenes are amusing in a bizarre kind of way.

Private detective Charlie Parker - though a little fuzzy about exactly what's going on - wants to stop the deaths of the veterans, save the waitress, and preserve the world. Thus he enlists the help of his old friends, Angel and Louis, two tough birds who like nothing better than killing bad guys.

I thought the story was interesting and shed some light on veterans suffering from PTSD and their need for more government assistance. The underlying theme of the story - soldiers stealing treasures from war torn regions - was also compelling (though I don't know how realistic this is....some of those statues are pretty big).

Overall, though, the the book was just okay for me. Some parts of the story were overly detailed and very slow moving, and I wanted the action to move along faster. Also, the mixed 'private detective' - 'supernatural phenomena' genre isn't my favorite. Still, there are a good variety of characters in the book (some more well rounded than others) and the story held my attention.

I would recommend the book to Charlie Parker fans and to fans of supernatural mysteries.

Rating: 3 stars

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