Sunday, April 27, 2008

Another Connolly

I have made no secret of my liking of author Michael Connolly and his Harry Bosch detective novels. Although I started reading Connolly relatively recently, Bosch quickly became one of my favorite characters. So, a few weeks ago when rushing past the book counter in the local Costco, I saw another Connolly novel and quickly grabbed it.

A few days later I picked up the book and started reading. In the middle of the first page, I felt something was wrong. This clearly was not written by the Connolly I knew and there was no Harry Bosch. I looked back at the cover and discovered that I had picked up a thriller by Irish author John Connolly. I had just gone through another one of those "senior moments" that occasionally drive me to distraction.

Actually, The Unquiet was a fascinating and disquieting book. This Connolly, while living in Ireland, uses the state of Maine as the backdrop for this psychological thriller that takes place several years after the disappearance of a psychiatrist who worked primarily with children who had been abused. It was well written although in a style that, at times, I thought was a bit ponderous. But what made the reading more difficult for me was that this was at least the 4th of Connolly's novels in which private detective Charlie Parker was the protagonist. Without knowing any of the back-story, there were a lot of references to the past that left me a bit confused.

Every now and then, a passage leaps out of a book that just hits you between the eyes. That happened to me in The Unquiet when Parker was interviewing the attorney of one of the "victims" who was in prison and, among other things, she said: "Winston Churchill once said that you can judge a society by the way it treats its prisoners. You know, there was all of this stuff about Abu Gharib and what we're doing to Muslims in Iraq and in Guantanamo and in Afghanistan and wherever else we've decided to lock up those whom we perceive to be a threat. People seemed surprised by it, but all they had to do was look around them. We do it to our own people. We try children as adults. We lock up, even execute, the mentally ill. And [referring to her incarcerated, mentally ill client] we tie people naked to chairs in ice-cold rooms because their medications aren't working. If we can do that here, then how the hell can anybody be surprised when we don't treat our enemies any better?" [Note: bracketed phrase added]

I do apologize for the length of the quote but, by itself, it made reading this novel worth it. It was a decent read overall and it did contain some scary insights into human nature. Now, I have to decide if I will go back and read this Connolly's earlier novels.


Sidney said...

You know I have heard of John Connolly but have not read anything by him. That's another one that needs to go on my reading list. I'm reading a book by Thomas H. Cook now that is pretty interesting as a crime novel, Breakheart Hill.

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