THE FURIES BY John Connolly (Hodder & Stoughton)
It has been a while since we were in the contemporary world of Charlie Parker. In 2020 John Connolly gave us a look at an earlier Charlie Parker, sans any supernatural elements, in The Dirty South and in last year’s thrilling The Nameless Ones the focus was mainly on Charlie’s violent friends, Louis and Angel.
Now with The Furies, (Hodder & Stoughton, 9 August 2022), Connolly returns to Charlie Parker in a relatively contemporary setting. However, instead of a single novel, The Furies is actually comprised of two loosely linked novellas, The Sisters Strange and the titular The Furies. As Connolly notes in the acknowledgments, The Sisters Strange was originally written and published online in weekly chapters during the initial COVID-19 lockdown in early 2020 to “give readers something to divert them.” That original version of the story was re-crafted and expanded to the current version which appears in the book. The Furies was written to accompany The Sisters Strange, and is set at the beginning of the COVID lookdown
The Sisters Strange finds Parker hired by someone who is concerned about two sisters, Dolors and Ambar Strange, and their connection to a degenerate ex-con whose recent tattoos suggest that he is involved in the occult. Complicating things are the theft of ancient coins, one of which has supernatural powers. In The Furies Parker is preparing to deal with the COVID lockdown when he is hired by two different woman. The first is the widow of a notorious gangster who is being blackmailed by a pair of violent crooks who have stolen the only items she has left of her dead daughter. The second is the mother of a domestic abuse victim, who wants Parker to extract her daughter from a dangerous situation before she is trapped at home with her abuser. Neither case works out as you would expect.
Both novellas are interesting and captivating and display Connolly’s ability to draw a reader in and keep them interested. The pacing is a little leisurely, as Connolly takes his time setting up the story arcs and providing lengthy backgrounds for each character, but the quality of the writing and the unexpected directions the stories take keep you interested. As usual, Connolly brings a poet eye to his writing and there are some truly evocative passages, and great descriptions of Maine on the verge of lockdown:
“I was over by the Maine mall, watching people pushing carts filled to overflowing with groceries, liquor, potato chips, and toilet paper. Elsewhere gun stores were having trouble keeping ammunition on their shelves … The only thing missing was the voice of Orson Welles announcing that the Martians were closing in on New York.”
The characterisations are very strong, with some of the minor characters, especially the repulsive owner of a rundown hotel, Bobby Wadlin, stealing the limelight. It is also nice to catch up with members of the regular cast, especially the Fulci brothers who provide some good moments of levity.
Typically for a Connolly book, there is a rich tapestry of ideas and detail in The Furies, especially around the effects of COVID. Racism, domestic abuse, corruption, and the effects of grief are all tackled in a telling way, but without overly slowing the pace or lessening the excitement. There are also the usual dollops of arcane history, especially in the first story around coin collecting and the origins of coins.
In all, The Furies is a marvellous read and one of my favourite books of 2022.
Four and a half stars out of five!
The Furies has an abundance of release dates. It is released in Ireland on 26 July 2022, the United Kingdom on
4 August 2022 and Australia on 9 August 2022. It has also different covers depending on the release location. The cover at the top is the Australian version and the one below is the British cover. There is also different American cover.