Review: A Game of Ghosts by John Connolly

A Game of Ghosts by John Connolly is the 15th book in the Charlie Parker series (available July 4, 2017).

It’s winter in Portland, and there is no sign of the cold letting up. Charlie Parker is hunched up against the freezing temperatures as he walks through the streets. Old injuries from a hard life spent are shown little kindness by the plunging mercury. February did not cause the aching wounds, but it is not helping. 

Parker has a meeting with his boss, Edgar Ross, in a bar. It is not a place he would have picked, but it is warm and the food is good. Charlie Parker does not work directly for the FBI. Edgar Ross does, however, and he has a job for the private investigator. 

Jaycob Eklund is a private detective with an interest in the paranormal who’s gone missing. Parker is not familiar with him, but Ross wants him found. It is not really a request—the monthly stipend from the FBI means that when Ross snaps his fingers, he expects Parker to jump. 

Parker has two accomplices outside in a car, as he likes to keep his options open. He is also recording the meeting with Ross. After all, he knows he is playing a dangerous game. But so does Ross, who knew he was being recorded and jammed it. When he leaves, he quietly assures Parker that he will release the dogs on him and his colleagues if he ever tried it again. So it is with a less-than-willing attitude that Charlie Parker goes to work. 

John Connolly has produced a book that is both spine-chilling and gripping. The story takes you into a world that will make your blood run cold in a way the weather never could. To get the answers he needs, Parker has to resort to methods that are questionable but definitely of this world.

Parker had made the decision to search Eklund’s office first. Targeting the office still involved breaking and entering, but would require less time than searching Eklund’s home, and so it made sense to get it out of the way, first. He left his car in a parking lot, and the driving to Louis.

Serviced offices mostly hired cheap, in Parker’s experience. It wasn’t as though they offered many opportunities for promotion, and the work was dull. The receptionists to watch out for were the older ones, who were the human equivalent of junkyard dogs. But the young woman was still behind the desk, and appeared capable of a degree of civility, from what Parker could see of her smile.

Angel made the call from across the street. They watched the receptionist answer as she buzzed in a visitor.

“This is Mister Eklund in suite seventeen,” said Angel. “I’m expecting two clients to arrive in the next five minutes. You can send them straight up once they’ve signed in.”

If the receptionist noticed that the call was coming from an outside line, she didn’t mention it. Most people were so attached to their cell phones that to receive a call from one, even from someone who had a landline in the same building, was unremarkable.

“I’ll do that, Mister Eklund.”

Angel thanked her and hung up. The oldest tricks in the book endured for a reason. Her reaction also told Parker something else.

The bad people, flesh and otherwise, come fast and thick. The bullets are as real as the contracts they seal with death. Nothing is at first what it seems, and the huge array of people from the shadows with bad intentions have names that will make your skin crawl. Eklund did not just have an interest in the paranormal, he was investigating cases involving murders and disappearances that were linked, in one way or another, to hauntings. 

The man investigating the disappeared has himself vanished, and Parker finds himself gliding in and out of a criminal world run by Mother, a beast from the imagination of a writer who is a master of the genre. If you put this book down, it will be only to make sure the lights don’t go out as you are reading it. The ghosts in this book play a deadly game, and you will want to be part of it. Get yourself a copy and prepare yourself for a stunner of a book. It will be worth it.


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Dirk Robertson is a Scots thriller writer, currently in Virginia where he is promoting literacy and art projects for young gang members. When not writing, tweeting, or blogging on the Mystery Writers of America website, he designs and knits clothes and handbags from recycled rubbish.

Read all Dirk Robertson’s posts for Criminal Element.


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