The Killing Kind: The Darker Side of Mystery


I’m not sure if it’s the depression or if I’ve just been in a mood for this specific genre, but I’ve been reading a lot of horror/thriller/mystery novels lately. I took a break near the end of last year to delve into the fantasy genre again, but it seems like I’m back with Stephen King and the gang, and now I’ve found a new author whose writing dances with the darker nature of the world: John Connolly.

When Grace Peltier is found dead with a bullet to the brain and a gun in her hand everyone automatically thinks suicide, but her father and a former U.S. Senator think differently. When Charlie Parker is hired to investigate, he’s reluctant and hopes for an easy open-and-shut case to put everyone’s minds at ease, but what he discovers goes much deeper than anyone could have imagined. As Charlie follows the evidence he finds himself becoming a person of interest for a shadowy religious group known as the Fellowship, and as the pieces begin to slide into place it becomes evident that Grace Peltier’s death was no suicide. As more information continues to surface a connection begins to emerge between Grace and the disappearance of a religious community known as the Aroostook Baptists who disappeared thirty years before.

I have only read one other of Connolly’s books, The Book of Lost Things, and it was one of the darkest YA books I’ve ever read. And now I know why. Connolly’s books are grizzly; he doesn’t shy away from death or what death would look like to those who stumble upon it. His descriptions were never so bad that I felt disgusted or shocked, but when there was a dead body to be found there were no questions about whether or not they were still alive.

To be entirely honest this book made me nervous when I first started reading. For one it was the third book in the series, but the library didn’t have the first one so I figured what the heck, I’ll give it a go. Most mysteries don’t have to be read in a particular order anyway. Second, when I looked up some reviews on Amazon someone said that Connolly goes into a great deal of detail on the scenes when dead bodies are discovered, but I thought again I just thought to heck with it, I’ll give it a go. I decided the worst thing that could happen is I didn’t like it and ended up returning it to the library. As it turns out, that wasn’t necessary. There were a lot of references to the previous books, but Connolly gave enough background information that I could glean the most important details of what happened before and the issues with the descriptions of dead people were detailed but, as I said above, they weren’t so graphic that they took away from the book.

As far as mysteries go it wasn’t a hugely complex one. About halfway through I was able to figure out what was going on for the most part. It wasn’t an Agatha Christie type of mystery, but that didn’t seem to be what Connolly was going for. He seemed to be putting off a bit more a Stephen King vibe: applying regular escalating high points throughout the plot that kept the reader wary of what was to come.

If you’re worried about this book being too violent or too graphic, not to worry; it’s not very violent at all. Being a mystery and all, most of the killing happens off screen, so sto speak, and we are only shown the aftermath, some of which is shown in detail, but Connolly leaves enough unsaid for us to use our imaginations to fill in the gaps. Which I realize might be worse for some, but ultimately I believe it to be less graphic than several other popular books adorning the shelves of Barnes & Noble and Amazon at the moment. If you feel as though I’m contradicting myself, I apologize. The Killing Kind is proving much more difficult to describe than I had originally thought.

If you’re worried about reading this book then my suggestion for you would be to simply read the prologue before you make your final decision about whether to pass or press forward. The most intense scene is right in the beginning, so if you can get through that you’ll be okay. For those of you who give this book a try and are able to get through the prologue, I assure you you won’t be disappointed.

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