First Blood

An explosive debut that will keep you up well past bedtime.

"Every Dead Thing" begins with one of the most memorable opening chapters in recent suspense fiction: NYPD detective Charlie "Bird" Parker returns home one evening to find his wife and child brutally murdered, their throats cut and their bodies horribly mutilated. As a police investigation fails to find the culprit, Bird sinks into an ever-deepening morass of guilt and regret - and a desire for revenge that ultimately leads him to leave the police force and begin his own hunt for the killer.

As Bird's search progresses, with little success, he is also asked to look into the case of a missing girl by his old NYPD partner. While Bird is initially reluctant to take the case, he ultimately agrees - and is quickly drawn into a search for a pair of serial killers, pederasts who abuse and then kill young children, with links to organized crime. His search for his wife's killer also gains more momentum when he meets an old lady who lives in the Louisiana swamps, a mystic who claims to have psychic visions of a serial killer known only as The Travelling Man, and who offers Bird his first insights into the killer's mind.

With two interwoven storylines, each one bristling with violence and deceit, "Every Dead Thing" is a powerful first novel well within hailing distance of Thomas Harris' "The Silence Of The Lambs". In Bird, Connolly has created one of the most intriguing characters in recent suspense fiction; weighed down by guilt and regret and yet driven by the desire to know the truth, Bird is a man who is willing to use any means necessary to rid the world of evil, yet constantly questions the moral choices he is making.

Connolly's portrayal of Bird's search for his nemesis, The Travelling Man, is also laudable - a tremendous amount of historical research seems to have gone into Connolly's portrayal of the serial killer who "uses the human body as his canvas", and the effort certainly adds a great deal of atmosphere to the story. A memorable cast of supporting characters - Angel, a reformed burglar; Louis, a semi-retired hit man; and Rachel Wolfe, the criminal psychologist who helps Bird find the Travelling Man - and some wonderfully dark humour makes "Every Dead Thing" a sure bet for the bestseller lists - and a surefire hit among suspense fiction aficionados on the lookout for new...blood?

This article was first published on 01 Dec 2000.