How much of a John Connolly aficionado are you? I once wrote of him (in The Independent): ‘Connolly delivers such grisly and adroitly plotted novels as The White Road without working up a sweat; a sardonic Irishman who has become one of the most distinguished practitioners of US crime writing, Connolly has an unerring ear for the American idiom’. An encomium I still stand by, as his position as a crime writer with the non-pareil Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker novels remains unassailable. Ah, but the real Connolly admirer – of which there are many – is well aware of the other string to his bow; he is equally adept in the shorter forms of the macabre and the supernatural. As in the concise but unsettling The Wanderer in Unknown Realms.

In a phantasmagorilly realised period London, Connolly’s beleaguered protagonist Soter is dispatched in pursuit of a missing man – which becomes the pursuit of an unspeakable book, one with an uncanny power. The manifestations Soter encounters on the way are viscerally disturbing in a fashion that is a Connolly speciality. There is an echo here of Daphne du Maurier’s novella The Birds in which episodes of intimate terror are slowly magnified into the apocalyptic.

The novella (according to the author) ‘actually feeds into the next two Parker books, via the longer novella, The Fractured Atlas, of which it is a part’. Should Connolly fans track down this book, as elusive as the uncanny volume within its pages? Really — need you ask?

The Wanderer in Unknown Realms by John Connolly is published by Bad Dog Books ISBN: 9780957652606

 

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