Some books and authors deal with the darkness better than others. I enjoy an intense murder mystery that can make me laugh occassionally (like the Odd Thomas series or Sherlock Holmes), but I also enjoy a novel that confronts the evil in humanity in sober terms. The Charlie Parker series by John Connolly is mostly the latter (although Parker’s likeable bad-guy friends have made me laugh more than once). Connolly’s books embrace the darkness that is around us and leave the reader struck by humanity’s blackness of heart. They should be read by a warm fire in the cold of winter.
Parker is a former detective who lost his way when his wife and daughter were murdered while he was spending too much time in a bar. He is a haunted soul whose circumstances keep him far away from the normal life. Most of the books are set in Maine. Parker’s home is in Portland, the city my wife and I flew into for our honeymoon back a few years ago. The state is a great backdrop for Parker’s many evil encounters (I think there are 13 books in the series now). As a private detective with a past, Parker is sought out by troubled people with troubling cases. And although each book stands alone, the continuing development of Parker’s story (which has several twists and turns) is weaved into each narrative, leaving the reader always ready for the next installment.
Connolly has done a great job with this series (he has some other good works as well). If you are looking for a book, or a series of books, that stares the harsh realities of the human soul square in the face, then give Charlie Parker a try. Just build a good fire before you start!