Charlie Parker (Connolly)

Created by John Connolly

“I have learned to embrace the dead and they, in their turn, have found a way to reach out to me.”
— from The White Road

Abandon Faith, ye who enter here…

Guilt-ridden for drinking bourbon at a bar while his wife and young child were being murdered, CHARLIE “BIRD” PARKER (not to be confused with Connie Sheldon’s detective of the same name) quits the New York police department, and promptly goes off the deep end.

Only to re-emerge months later, relatively clean and sober, but still a little too close to the edge for comfort, setting himself up as an unlicensed private eye. In Every Dead Thing (1999), his impressive, Shamus-winning debut, he’s called into service by his former partner, who asks him — as a favor — to search for a missing person. But Charlie’s investigation soon uncovers a possible link with the suspected killer of his family, a serial killer known as “The Travelling Man”, who may or may not have supernatural powers.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking.


But it’s not what you think. There’s more to these books than a little cookie-cutter woo-woo. For Connolly, the “unknown” remains unknown, lending an air of menace and tension that’s as unrelenting as it is unsettling. Connolly truly understands both horror and crime fiction, and his deft blend of the two makes for a powerful and heady brew, resulting in one of the most potent and emotionally wrenching P.I. series in recent memory. And his characterizations are so sharp they could draw blood.

Charlie’s since appeared several times since, his cases walking an increasingly fine line between crime and horror fiction, as the line between this world and the next have become even more blurred.

At first the question was: “Is Charlie slowly going off his rocker? Or do dead people really speak to him?” But as the series progressed, the question became, “Does it even matter, with writing as powerful and often chilling as this?”

As we ventured futher and further into the wild and untamed darkness, it’s become startlingly obvious that: 1) Yes, 2) Yes and 3) No.

Connolly’s regular gig may have been a journalist for The Irish Times at one point,  but he gets the States — particularly his beloved New England — down pat here. More, please.


  • Client: “Do you hunt?”
    Charlie: “No… not animals.”
    —  The Wrath of Angels


  • Every Dead Thing is grim Noir that wreaks havoc on sub-genre stereotypes. Cops do poetry and reference college professors. Professionally lethal hitmen are gay or impotent. Psychic phenomena move the dark tale forward. Yet with all that upheaval to the sub-genre norm, the story line works due to the fact that the characters feel authentic.Though the gore level is in the stratosphere, John Connolly has provided the audience with a non-stop, action-packed tale that also has a warm side where love and loyalty (not DNA) make a person human.”
    — Harriet Klausner
  • “Irish journalist Connolly’s first novel is an ambitious, grisly, monstrously overextended foray up and down the eastern US and deep into Hannibal Lecter territory. ”
    — Kirkus Reviews on Every Dead Thing
  • “Connolly portrays a chilling humanity in his characters, both good and evil, giving the book depth while keeping the reader unsettled to the end. Another great addition to a popular series that will please its many fans.”
    —  Library Journal on The Woman in the Woods



  • Burning Soul (2011) | Buy this book Kindle it!
    No Charlie Parker, as far as I know, but plenty of things that go bump in the night.


  • “Charlie Parker: A Mysterious Profile” (April 2022; by John Connoly) | Kindle it! 


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. And special thanks to Suzanne Sinclair for pointing out the bloody obvious to me.


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