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A Game of Ghosts by John Connolly

First published in Great Britain in 2017; published by Atria/Emily Bestler Books on July 4, 2017

A Game of Ghosts advances and, to an extent, brings to an end subplots that have forming in recent Charlie Parker novels. Familiar names or entities relating to those subplots include the Collector, the lawyer Eldritch, and the Brethren.

There are more ghosts than usual in this Charlie Parker novel. Charlie’s daughter Sam is still visited by the ghost of her half-sister Jennifer. Tobey Thayer foresees death, sometimes in the form of ghosts. Mike MacKinnon disappeared after seeing ghosts, and now his son Alex has seen one, portending the arrival of evil in his home. Other characters see or become ghosts as the novel progresses.

Charlie Parker is now on the government payroll as a private contractor. FBI Agent Ross has assigned him to find a private investigator named Jaycob Eklund who, like Parker, is a private FBI asset. Eklund has dropped off the radar.

The Brethren have taken note of Eklund and of a man named Routh, also known as the Cousin. Routh and Thayer are both connected to Eklund. Those connections furnish Parker’s link to evil, both mortal and supernatural, as Parker and his two associates, Angel and Louis, work their way through a trail of dead bodies while trying to find a living person who might know what happened to Eklund. The mystery puts Parker in the middle of an intriguing power struggle between a widow and her son.

As always, John Connolly writes with an abundance of style and flair. The story moves quickly. The plot is a bit less engaging than some other Parker novels, in part because Connolly seems have used A Game of Ghosts to tie up some of the dangling subplots that he advanced in earlier novels. For that reason, this novel focuses less on unraveling a mystery and more on the supernatural elements that always lurk in a Parker novel.

Given that Parker’s dead daughter is a ghostly character in these novels, and that his living daughter seems to have supernatural powers, there’s little doubt that the supernatural will continue to play an important role in the series. Now that the Brethren plotline is largely resolved, I’d like to see the novels give less emphasis to supernatural elements, because I think Parker novels are best when Parker is hunting down a killer or some other evildoer. Parker doesn’t do much of anything in A Game of Ghosts as he’s usually a half step behind the evildoers, who often hog the stage. Still, A Game of Ghosts is an easy, enjoyable read, and it paves the way for fresh plots in future novels.


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