Every Dead Thing
By John Connolly
Charlie “Bird” Parker Series, Book #1
Pocket Books, US & Canada Paperback, July 2000
Charlie “Bird” Parker is an ex-cop who left the NYPD in the wake of the double homicide of his wife and daughter. The crime created a cloud of doubt, guilt and suspicion over Parker, who is haunted by ghostly images and memories. Now doing scut detective work for bail bondsman and the like, a former colleague asks him to discreetly look into a probable missing person case which has mob implications, and which takes Parker from New York to Virginia and eventually to pre-Katrina New Orleans.
Every Dead Thing is a character study of a grief stricken man who struggles to get his life back on track even as he is unsure of the ground upon which he stands. The action of the novel is carried by two cases which are related by the type of criminals ultimately pursued, serial killers. Some of the victims are children and on the whole the carnage is graphic and gruesome. Acknowledging that the antagonists are the foils against which the protagonists are defined and developed, and that Connolly makes feints at speculating at the natures of the killers, the homicides still have the effect of polarizing the readers into viewing the killers as irredeemably evil and thus rendering the antagonists as as one-dimensional. Richly descriptive detail and with a touch of mysticism, Every Dead Thing is a Southern Gothic tale that evokes some visceral responses and is not for the faint of heart. If you liked the movie, Seven Deadly Sins (starring Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey, and Gweneth Paltrow) and/or R.J. Ellory’s, A Quiet Belief in Angels, it is likely you will like Every Dead Thing as well.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does a well developed antagonist (e.g. back story, motive understood…) make the antagonist more sympathetic to a reader? Does having a well developed antagonist steal focus from the protagonist, or make for a more balanced (more interesting?) narrative?
OTHER: I purchased a mass market paperback edition of Every Dead Thing (Charlie Parker series, Book #1 by John Connolly) from AMZN on February 9, 2013.