WHEN Charlie Parker was a boy his father Will, a New York cop, killed two children little older than his son.

Will gave his distressed family no justification for the slaughter and shortly after killed himself.

This is the starting point for John Connolly’s novel The Lovers and it’s as striking a premise as the always imaginative Connolly has ever come up with – but it’s only the beginning.

In the present Charlie Parker’s grown-up life is at low ebb. In bad odour with the authorities he has been shorn of his private investigator’s licence along with the right to carry a gun and is keeping a low profile in a menial job in a Portland bar.

But while trying to stay out of trouble Charlie embarks on the most personal case of his career: discovering the truth behind his father’s death and the double murder.

He revisits his own childhood – a lacerating experience – and learns of a mysterious pair of young people who appear to have been present at many deaths; what’s more they seem to have been around since his father’s suicide.

These sinister figures are on his trail and it’s a toss-up what will happen first: Charlie discovering what was behind his father’s terrible deed or ending up dead himself.

Dublin-born John Connolly has colonised the bestseller charts in the US by capturing the American crime novel idiom. But it’s not just the completely plausible American voice of books such as this and The Reapers that is so impressive as the fact that he’s able to work poetic language into the thriller format.

The Lovers, like most of Connolly’s books, creates an enormous panoply for his skirmishes between the forces of good and evil with metaphysics and sometimes the supernatural stirred into a very rich stew.

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The Lovers is published by Hodder & Stoughton

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