Charlie Parker is approached by Jerome Burnel. Burnel was at one time considered a hero, foiling a botched gas station robbery. Tragically, all was forgotten when a short time later, Jerome was brought up on child pornography charges. Jerome claims he’s innocent and although he’s served his time, some may not feel his punishment was adequate. Burnell hires Parker to clear his name and look into his prison tormentor, Harpur Griffin, also recently released from jail.
The events in the twelfth book of the series, A Wolf in Winter, altered Parker forever. While he spent the majority of the last novel (A Song of Shadows) licking his wounds, he fully emerges as a changed man in A Time of Torment. Now, less a detective and more of a hunter, Parker, accompanied by his long time friends and associates Louis and Angel, seek to track down and destroy those who prey on the weak.
This time around, Parker is going toe-to-toe with a mysterious cult-like society dubbed “The Cut” – a group of maniacs residing in a backwoods county in West Virginia. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Parker novel without a hearty dose of the paranormal! The residents of The Cut serve a spooky, violent master named “The Dead King”, a detail that Burnel’s prison rapist Harpur Griffin lets slip during one of their not-so-romantic encounters.
I absolutely love what Connolly is doing with Parker by turning him into an absolute beast of a character. Charlie is remorseless in his pursuit of those named on a list found in a downed plane several books back – the list of which its purpose remains unknown other than the fact that there are some pretty unsavory characters named on it – folks who Parker would feel safer if they were dead, and vice-versa I’m sure.
Over the course of the last seventeen years, Connolly has managed to pump out nearly one Parker novel a year – which is impressive considering their length, quality and research required into the weird adversaries that Connolly presents to his signature detective. But there are some novels that while they are still enjoyable, fall a little short of what I consider his best work. Don’t get me wrong, A Time of Torment is a very good read, but just not as electrifying as some of his others – most notably his last one, A Song of Shadows.