Review: “A Time of Torment,” John Connolly

Pros: Wonderful characters; fascinating locale; I clearly need to read more about Charlie and his… associates
Rating: 5 out of 5

John Connolly’s A Time of Torment: A Charlie Parker Thriller is fantastic. It’s a comparatively long read, but the author makes every scene count. Burnel got labeled as a hero when he killed two very dangerous people. Not long thereafter, he was sent to jail after some truly horrific child molestation photos showed up in his house. Burnel knows he’s innocent, and now that he’s out on probation he offers investigator Charlie Parker nearly all his money to investigate his case. One of Charlie’s crew is particularly good at sniffing out child predators, and believes Burnel may actually be innocent. Then, Burnel vanishes. The police think he skipped out on probation, but all his clothes and his suitcase and other items are still at his place of residence. Belatedly, Charlie decides to investigate the case, and finds himself at war with a small, isolated community in Maine called simply “the Cut”. Meanwhile, in Plassey County–the area in which the Cut operates–Sheriff Henkel decides it’s time to bring down the Cut, no matter how much influence they have and how violent they’re willing to be. Burnel heard the term Dead King while experiencing incredible cruelty in jail, and Charlie goes looking for the meaning.


Parker was a weapon in the hands of an unseen god.

There’s something fascinatingly paranormal going on in this book, but not the standard stuff. No vampires, no zombies, no werewolves. As much as I like stories about those other things, I also want to see different and unique. The magic in this tale is older, more folkloric. The people of the Cut serve the Dead King, and that aids them in their efforts. Similarly, Charlie Parker’s dead daughter keeps an occasional eye on him, and his daughter Sam (half-sister to Jennifer) sometimes watches her father through Jennifer’s eyes. There are dead and sleeping gods that are stirring beneath the world, and it’s only a matter of time before they wake.

He understood now that his purpose on this earth, just like the purpose of any father, was to protect his child.

But this child was special. This child, he believed, could change worlds.

Louis and Angel are some very unusual companions for Charlie, but they play a fascinating role. They seem to have a keen intelligence and a very strong awareness of the people, space and time around them. They also have some of the best lines:

“[W]hen have we ever paid attention to warnings?”
“I prefer to think of them as invitations.”

This seems like such a short review, but it’s hard to convey just how artistically these characters were carried out. Even younger thugs from the Cut get plenty of personality attributed to them (it’s hard not to get a shiver from Lucius’ evil). Also, the Cut has never had a more vulnerable time. Oberon leads them right now, but he has no male heirs and he’s seen as going soft, not sending as many people out into the world to break into buildings, mug people, and otherwise find sources of money. Cassander is his likely successor, and Cassander has sons. Parker doesn’t even live anywhere near the Cut, but Burnel’s approach to him drags him in, and he is probably the largest disaster that could befall the Cut.

I loved this book enough that I want to go dig up more books in the series!

NOTE: Free book provided by publisher in return for review

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