It's 6:30 AM on St. Stephen's Day (aka Boxing Day to our British and Canadian friends). Time to check out the after-Christmas sales. I'm sitting here, nibbling on lemon poppy seed bread and sipping a cup of tea while I try to muster the energy to go shopping.
A note on St. Stephen's Day. My ethnic background is a little strange. My father was first-generation Italian-American and my mother is Irish--an odd combination not often found in the general population. My parents met and fell in love in New York City, that melting pot of immigrants. I sometimes joke that their marriage meant I grew up at the top of my lungs.
Although each side of my family was extremely wary of the other, they had more in common than they were willing to acknowledge. Both were devoutly Catholic and hard drinking, and both celebrated St. Stephen's Day. On that day, we went "visiting." Since I have sixteen aunts and uncles and thirty-two first cousins, it was often a very long day.
In honor of my Irish ancesters and the day, I'm offering you a new (to me) author to check out. John Connolly is an Irish writer whose first novel, "Every Dead Thing," won the Shamus Award for best first novel in 1999. When I stopped by the library on Friday afternoon, my library lady had a stack of books waiting for me. Among them was Connolly's latest book, "Black Angel."
I like hard-edged mysteries; the harder, the better. "Black Angel" is the fifth in Connolly's Charlie Parker series. Today I'll try to find the other four.
What sets "Black Angel" apart is that it is not a pure mystery--it's equal parts mystery and horror novel--a very intriguing combination. Charlie Parker is a private investigator who lives in Maine. As a favor to his best friend, he tries to track down a young black prostitute who has gone missing. Also looking for her are a group called "The Believers," who are the reincarnated fallen angels driven out of Heaven by God. This is not a spoiler, by the way. It's revealed on the first page of the novel.
Connolly is not perfect. He has several jarring point-of-view shifts and he's a little too fond of lengthy soliloquoys. However--in a world too long dominated by Stephen King and Dean Koontz--Connolly's voice is fresh and exciting. I highly recommend him.
Off to shop. Have a good day.