Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Reflecting Eye by John Connolly

“The Reflecting Eye: A Charlie Parker Novella” by John Connolly, Nocturnes – A Collection of Short Stories, Atria Books, Trade Paperback, $12.95

Charlie Parker returns. This story takes place somewhat later than the last novel I read. Rachel, Charlie’s new love, is near giving birth to their first child. This impending event combined with the always-present feeling of loss for Charlie’s first wife and daughter permeate the entire story.

It begins in 1977 with the arrival in a small Maine town of John Grady. Grady buys a house and begins renovating it. The people of the town, at first welcoming, soon begin to avoid the house and Grady. The renovations are odd, mirrors on every wall, and the homemade paste Grady uses to put up the new wallpaper has a peculiar, and unpleasant, stench.

Soon children, little girls, begin to disappear. Ultimately these disappearances lead back to Grady. When the police break into his basement where he has just murdered another girl, Grady commits suicide.

Now, years later, the current owner of the Grady house, the father of the last girl to be killed, comes to Charlie with the suspicion that the killings might be about to begin again. Frank Matheson bought the house and locked it up with steel mesh gates across the windows and doors. He wanted it to continue to stand as a reminder of the terrible things that happened there so that those things might not happen again. The house has always attracted the ghoulish and disturbed, but now, on the steps of the house, he has found an envelope containing a photograph of a little girl. He wants to protect the girl, but has no way to know who she is. He has gone to the police, but they aren’t being proactive enough for him.

Charlie agrees to watch the house and try to find out who left the photo. During his investigations he runs across the Collector, a man who insists that he is owed a debt by John Grady and wants one of the mirrors from the house as payment. This is a very disturbing and dangerous man. There is also Ray Czabo, another collector that tries to obtain artifacts from the scenes of terrible tragedy to sell to others of his ilk. Charlie also comes afoul of an aging mob boss and his son. The son is now consorting with Ray Czabo’s wife.

Charlie’s friends Angel and Louis also make an appearance, but they are little more than set dressing in this story.

All of Connolly’s Charlie Parker stories have an element of the supernatural in them, and this one is no exception. Connolly handles the woo-woo factor well, making you feel that there is some basis in reality. This is a very creepy story.

In short, a fine addition to the annals of Charlie Parker.