John Connolly (born 31 May 1968) is the best-selling author of a number of ass-kicking horror, supernatural and mystery novels.
His main hero, private detective Charlie Parker, is a badass anti-hero who sees dead people and keeps company with murderers and criminals. After the death of his wife and daughter he goes off the deep end, before resurfacing months later to wreak havoc on America's criminal underworld. There are currently thirteen titles in the series: twelve novels and one novella, the latter of which can be found in the Nocturnes collection along with many of Connolly's short horror stories. A further novel-length thriller, Bad Men, is also set in the Charlie Parker universe but centres around a different set of characters and situations; like the Parker novels, depictions of human evil are offset by some genuinely scary supernatural visitations.
He has also written The Book of Lost Things, a coming-of-age story set in London during WWII about a kid who gets lost in a fantasy world after a bomber crashes in his back garden, and Nocturnes, a collection of short stories packed full of enough Nightmare Fuel to scare the bejesus out of anyone. In May 2013 Connolly released a novella, 'The Wanderer in Unknown Realms', set in the interwar period and concerning a shell-shocked veteran who is hired to track down the owner of a Tome of Eldritch Lore who has disappeared under mysterious circumstances; Word of God has confirmed that it takes place in the Book of Lost Things universe.
Connolly is also the author of two sci-fi/fantasy series for young adults. The Samuel Johnson vs. The Devil trilogy does Exactly What It Says on the Tin: a young boy growing up in a quiet English village finds the town repeatedly overrun by the demonic forces of Hell itself. Surprisingly, Hilarity Ensues more often than not, usually due to the incompetence of the demons, many of whom turn out to be sympathetic to Samuel and his friends. The darkly comic tone of the series has led to comparisons with Terry Pratchett and Monty Python. The final book in the trilogy has now been published and completes the story, although Connolly has said that he might return to the characters with a new scenario at a later date. Connolly's newer YA series, The Chronicles of the Invaders, is co-written with his partner, Jennifer Ridyard. In an Alternate Timeline where the Earth was taken over in a (mostly) bloodless coup by an alien race sometime in the early '90s, an Illyri princess living in isolation in Edinburgh Castle accidentally finds herself romantically involved with a member of the human resistance, whose attempts to drive out the invaders are increasingly leading to violent hostilities between the races. Only two books have been published thus far, but the authors predict that the series will eventually run to three or four entries.
Oh, and he's Irish. Who knew?
Tropes found in his works:
- Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Backstory is often presented in this manner.
- Backstory: Copious amounts of it. In Bad Men and in the Parker Novels up until The Unquiet, characters would be introduced with pages of backstory, only to be killed off immediately.
- Badass Normal: The good people of Biddlecombe take down angry demons with the sole help of makeshift weapons, like garden tools, rocks, cans of insecticide and hymn books.
- Body Horror: The rapidly spreading cancerous tumour in The Cancer Cowboy Rides.
- Canon Welding: Bad Men takes place in the same universe as the Charlie Parker novels, confirmed by the fact that Charlie Parker and Sharon Macy make cameos in each other's stories from time to time.
- Word of God confirms that The Book of Lost Things and The Wanderer in Unknown Realms share a universe, although they don't share any characters and the settings are a couple of decades apart. Thematically the two are quite similar, however.
- 2019's A Book of Bones draws "The Wanderer in Unknown Realms" firmly into canon with the Charlie Parker novels, meaning that many of Connolly's works now share an extended universe.
- Casual Danger Dialogue
- Childhood Friend Romance: The third book in the Samuel Johnson trilogy sees him eventually fall in love with Maria, his childhood best friend. The Distant Finale reveals that they married and, fifty years on, have an apparent army of offspring spanning three generations to their great-grandchildren.
- Continuity Cameo: Parker appears near the start of Bad Men. Macy is considered as a possible love interest for Parker after her appearance at the end of The Lovers.
- Creepy Child: The changeling in The New Daughter, Jennifer, James Jessop...
- Creepy Doll: The New Daughter
- Dirty Cop: In Bad Men.
- Distant Finale: The Samuel Johnson trilogy ends with a flash-forward to Samuel and Maria's fiftieth wedding anniversary.
- Gentle Giant: Joe Dupree in Bad Men.
- Handshake of Doom: In "The Cancer Cowboy Rides," eponymous villain Buddy Carson is first properly introduced when he stops to help Link Fraser change a tyre. Once the job's done, Link shakes the man's hand - unwittingly giving Buddy a chance to spread his condition a little further. In a matter of days, Link is diagnosed with liver cancer and dies in agony not long afterwards.
- Monster Clown: In Some Kids Wander By Mistake, the eponymous children are transformed in clowns, terrifying creatures who wear heavy make-up to cover up the permanent face-paint.
- Name's the Same: He is not to be confused with the FBI agent who collaborated with notorious Boston gang leader James "Whitey" Bulger.
- In a particularly disturbing Real Life example, The Burning Soul makes mention of both Whitey Bulger and James Bulger, the victim of a disgusting murder perpetrated by two children, who subsequently received new identities upon release- clearly the inspiration for the book's plot.
- Parasites Are Evil: Played with The Cancer Cowboy Rides: here, the source of Buddy Carson's cancer-spreading touch is imagined as a black worm living deep within him, encouraging him to infect more people as time goes on. For good measure, it's not above torturing him from the inside if he ever begins to weaken in his devotion to propagating "The Black Word." However, Carson isn't even sure that the worm is real or if it's just a delusion he suffers - and even if it exists, the cowardly evangelistic horror within him is still less villainous than Carson himself.
- Scary Scorpions: Part of a ritual that takes place in a boarding school, created by combing the bones of the creature with the blood of a Scholarship Student.
- Series Hiatus: the third Samuel Johnson novel will be the last "for the time being".
- Shared Universe: The Charlie Parker novels and Bad Men.
- Word of God has it that The Book of Lost Things and The Wanderer in Unknown Realms take place in the same universe, although there's nothing in either story (barring the similarities between their general premises) to directly suggest this.
- Talking to the Dead
- ¡Three Amigos!: Connolly's Samuel Johnson series for young adults has its own, kid-friendlier version of the Power Trio in the form of Sam, Tom and Maria, three school friends who accidentally witness the gates of Hell opening in their town. (So maybe not all that kid friendly, but none of them are assassins...)
- Tome of Eldritch Lore: The main character in 'The Wanderer in Unknown Realms' is hired to find out what happened to an antiquarian book collector who acquired one and promptly disappeared.
- Viral Transformation: In The Cancer Cowboy Rides.