I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a huge fan of short story compilations. While I’ve only read a handful of collections, I find they take a lot of effort to get through. It’s not that the quality of the work isn’t up to par with that of a full length novel, it’s just the ending of one story followed by the beginning of another can sometimes come across as exhausting. You get all invested in a story and it’s characters and all of a sudden, it’s over. Then, you begin again.
Seeing as Connolly is one of my favorite authors, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and check out his short story collection, Nocturnes. It also didn’t hurt that he included a Charlie Parker novella smack dab in the middle.
The book kicked off strong with The Cancer Cowboy Rides Again. Not a lot of background is given up front regarding the main character but that only adds to the horror surrounding his existence. A story about a man that needs to pass along his disease to hold off death was pretty terrifying. Solid story.
Some great storytelling with Mr. Pettinger’s Daemon, Nocturnes and especially with The New Daughter. The New Daughter must have grabbed someone the right way as it was adapted for the big screen with a starring Kevin Costner. Haven’t seen the film yet but I plan on it.
Without a doubt, the crown jewel of this collection is Charlie Parker’s The Reflecting Eye. This is by far, one of the best Parker appearances in Connolly’s canon. Not only is the story’s villain both engaging and creepy, the novella is an important one as it debuts one of Parker’s most notorious adversaries, The Collector. Connolly actually re-released this tale as a standalone book last year prior to the release of The Wrath of Angels, which also involves a key role for The Collector. I believe it was a limited release but I’m sure you can still find a few copies floating around.
Nocturnes is one of the few overwhelmingly positive experiences I’ve had with a short story anthology. Nothing really drags here as Connolly moves things along briskly – especially with the placement of the Parker novella right in the middle. If you’re a Parker fan, you really need to read The Reflecting Eye above all else.
A solid recommendation from someone who at times struggles with short story collections.