Okay, okay. I was in denial. I used to take cold comfort, telling myself that the supernatural elements in the Charlie Parker books weren’t really “real.” They were more a matter of shading or tone than actual plot elements, a figment of the New England detective’s troubled imagination, part of the pervasive suspense and uneasiness with which Connolly has cleverly imbued these deliciously disturbing and violent books. Not real at all. Nope.
But the days of looking the other way are long gone. This ain’t no party anymore, this ain’t no foolin’ around—and it hasn’t been for a long time. Connolly means it, man.
As the series has progressed (this is the 11th novel), it’s become clear that there is some serious woo-woo going on, adding a whole other dimension to what had already been one of the most enthralling PI series around. The forces of the underworld—demons, fallen angels, and other assorted hellish entities (and those who hunt them)—are as real as the femme fatales, loutish thugs, and corrupted wealth and power that usually permeate the mean-streets genre.
Not that Connolly has much truck with mean streets in this one—the real heart of this story, despite forays into Boston, Manhattan, and small-town New England, lies in the dark, untamed forests of northern Maine. Part-time bartender and private eye Charlie is hired by middle-aged school teacher Marielle Vetters to find a plane wreck first discovered by her late father and his hunting buddy years ago. Seems the plane was never reported missing, but there are several others—not all of them quite human—looking for it. This isn’t Chip and Dale frolicking in some Disney woodland fantasy—this is the Great Wrong Place of Stephen King, The Blair Witch Project, Deliverance, the Grimm Brothers, and a million other nightmares buried deep within us. This is where the wild things are, where evil grows thick and unchecked and the light never quite dispels the ominous shadows. Things don’t just go bump here—they slither and crawl and creep into your mind. Much the way this book does.