A Game of Ghosts

Written by John Connolly

Review written by John Parker

John Parker is a Graduate-qualified English/Spanish Teacher, owner and director of CHAT ENGLISH, an English Language Centre in Avilés on the north coast of Spain . A voracious reader, he has particularly loved horror fiction for many years.

A Game of Ghosts
Hodder and Stoughton
RRP: £14.99
Released: April 6 2017

This is the 15th Charlie Parker novel. We find our hero in a cold, dark winter at the beginning of February. Parker is called to a meeting with his unwanted employer, Edgar Ross. A private detective called Jaycob Eklund has gone missing and Ross wants him found as soon as possible, though he refuses to share his reasons with Charlie.

Eklund is an atypical P.I. He has been tracking a series of homicides and vanishings, all of which appear to have a connection to various hauntings. As Charlie begins to investigate, along with perennial accomplices Angel and Louis, he comes face to face with the squat, spider-like woman known as Mother. This woman, with Philip, her disgruntled and rather unpleasant son alongside her, is the ruler of a criminal empire built by her now-deceased husband Caspar Webb. She is interested as to why Parker is searching for Eklund for it appears that he was investigating the disappearance of Webb’s estranged brother. All this leads to confrontation with a mysterious group known as The Brethren.

Another chapter in the life of Charlie Parker and another fascinating read from the pen of the great John Connolly. Here is an author that seems to be totally in control of his writing and at the top of his game. I really liked this tale of the supernatural and am completely hooked on the series. There are characters both old and new. On the familiar side, we have the lawyer Eldritch and his son, The Collector. On the other side, apart from aforementioned characters, we have Kirk and Sally Buckner, the latter of which regularly communicates with a ghost, Donn Routh aka “The Cousin”, a quite loathsome and frightening “cleaner” who you would never ever want to have the misfortune to meet, Tobey Thayer, a second-hand furniture salesman who has visions of the future and something worse plus many more fascinating characters.

In an interview from last year, John Connolly said, Even with the worst of the characters in my books, I try to find the point at which they can justify what they do to themselves.  As someone once said, everybody has his reasons.” This seems to me to be more evident than ever in this book, particularly in the character of Kirk Buckner and importantly, in the character of The Collector. I have not even mentioned Charlie’s personal life and his latest problems with Rachel Wolfe, the mother of his child, Samantha but rest assured that life is not a bed of roses for him. Sam plays a lesser role in this novel but what happens with her will have repercussions in the near-future. In some ways, she is more unnerving than Charlie himself. But to say more would be to say too much.

My only problem with the book is that, in some ways, it is not enough. Despite all that happens, as I came towards the end of the novel, to my dismay, I began to realise that much of what I wanted to know was not going to be resolved in this book. I was convinced that Professor Ian Williamson was going to make a third appearance but it was not to be. I half-expected the ending of A Time of Torment to be revisited but it was not. Connolly, it seems, has so many ideas that I am wondering if we will accompany Charlie on his adventures for another 15 books. More than a complaint, this is just mild frustration. Nevertheless, this book will fully satisfy both long-time readers and those who are first-time visitors to the fascinating world of Charlie Parker, scourge of evil, last hope of the lost.   

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