Irish author John Connolly neatly splits the genre difference between mystery and horror with his latest Charlie Parker thriller, The Black Angel. Parker is drawn into the search for a missing woman, the cousin of a close friend and business associate; the woman, once beautiful, has had a hard life shaped by anger, drugs and prostitution. The police have given the case short shrift druggies and prostitutes go missing every day, after all. Only the woman's mother still believes that her daughter's life is salvageable. Things take a turn for the stranger when the disappearance is linked to a bizarre church in the Czech Republic. The church, called Sedlec, is decorated, and indeed constructed, using human bones. The chandelier itself is reputed to contain every bone in the human body. It is but a piece of the puzzle surrounding the Black Angel, a perhaps mythical statue sought for centuries by infamous evildoers and their descendants, some of whom will cross paths with Charlie Parker. Once again, Connolly has crafted a first-rate suspense thriller. The supernatural component is integral, but more subdued than, say, a Stephen King novel (perhaps more along the lines of James Lee Burke's In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead). Connolly's writing is both lyrical and insightful, as well as eminently thought provoking.

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