Charlie Parker is a man haunted by past events. He’s also a detective (only now he’s technically a federal investigator), and a darn good one at that.
This time around, he’s called into action when Jerome Burnel, a man who was once revered as a hero before being publicly shamed for crimes he didn’t commit, wants nothing more than to clear his name and prove his innocence.
If you’ve not read the last two or three books in the series, you’re in for a real shock because the Parker seen here is not the same man we knew before. He’s changed and has more of an edge to him, all of which is the result of pain from past experiences.
Parker’s investigation leads him in several directions before eventually pointing him towards a weird, creepy, cult-like group who call themselves the Cut.
The Cut is a group of people who are both nutty and nasty, with a hint (and by hint, I mean a double-dose) of evilness. This is where the paranormal angel, which Connolly is so well known for writing into his books, comes into play as members of the Cut serve a master known as the Dead King.
Living in the West Virginia wilderness, they’ve been around for a long time and follow their own somewhat demonic religious practices. Crossing them in any way is most certainly a death sentence, as nobody has ever done so and lived long enough to talk about it.
Of course, the Cut has never had Charlie Parker and his gang of sidekicks hot on their trail. With series regulars Angel and Louis lending a helping hand and Parker’s young daughter rounding out the band of unlikely teammates, Charlie uncovers a dark secret the Cut has been protecting for many years.
A mixture of horror and fantasy, Connolly leads readers down a spiral-staircase-of-a-plot, complete with trap doors and pressure pads that shoot poison darts at unsuspecting onlookers. If there was a “Kept Readers Guessing The Longest” award, Connolly would most assuredly take home the prize for his work here.
Complete with supernatural beings and enough suspense to fill up every floor of the Burj Khalifa, A Time Of Torment is a wickedly dark and entertaining thriller.
John Connolly once again flexes his creative genius by delivering a well-plotted thriller with an uber-creepy vibe.
This series, more than others written with a similar flavor, is very character-driven. Should you decide to jump in at this point without any frame of reference or backstory on Parker, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to fully appreciate all that the author offers in terms of character evolution and development.
The other reason Parker’s backstory is so important is because to understand what he’s gone through, is to understand Charlie. Like, for instance, the fact that he’s completely haunted by the death of his wife and daughter. Like, literally haunted, as his dead daughter is still somewhat there with him in a way that’s too hard for me to explain. (Connolly does it justice. It doesn’t sound as weird when he presents it, I promise!)
As far as the plot, well, I was honestly digging it until about halfway through, at which point I got a bad case of reader fatigue. It just didn’t suck me in anymore. However, this is a perfect example of why it’s always important to trust an author’s track record and read a book to the very end.
The last fifty or so pages really pop, and the ending was vintage Connolly–which absolutely saved the book. In fact, I was actually frustrated that I couldn’t figure out where things were heading, but turned the last page feeling satisfied with the way things concluded. (Hint: There’s plenty more to come in the future!)
While this book is certainly not for everyone, fans of Stephen King and his particular brand of weird suspense stories will love it. If you’re looking for something more straightforward and simplistic, though, this might not be it.
Author: John Connolly
Pages: 465 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Release Date: August 2, 2016 (Order now!)