July 28

Guest Post: Steve Cavanagh: Serial Heroes

It was October 2015 when Douglas Skelton told a gathering of readers in Motherwell Library that he really enjoyed Ed McBain novels.  That comment gave me the idea of a feature on my blog.  Could I find a couple of authors who would write a wee guest post on the books they like?  Not a single volume, but the ongoing stories by one author, characters they loved to follow. Could I maybe even stretch to 5 guests and get a feature week?

It turns out I could – authors are book fans too. WHO KNEW???

Today Steve Cavanagh joins me to close out the third week of my Serial Heroes feature.  Steve is my 15th guest yet he is the first that I have actually met that has also chosen a ‘Hero’ that I have met. It had never occurred to me that this may happen!

Steve, thank you!  An excellent choice…


Every Dead Thing 2Whilst working as a journalist for the Irish Times, Dublin born author John Connolly worked on what would become his debut novel, Every Dead Thing. The book is not an Irish novel. It’s set in the US, in Maine. It took five years to complete. Along with Michael Connelly’s The Black Echo, and The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins, Every Dead Thing stands as one of the finest debut crime novels of the last fifty years.

Charlie Parker’s wife and daughter are savagely murdered by a serial killer who continues to taunt Parker long after their deaths. The opening pages are harrowing, and we see Parker give up his career as a cop and descend into a painful, nightmarish world of grief and loss in his search for vengeance. This all sounds very bleak, and in parts it is suitably dark – but there is a lightness of touch and a wry humour that lifts Parker into your heart. From the first pages you are right behind Parker, willing him to survive and find the killer. Two men accompany Parker on his quest; the hitman Louis, and his lover – the dishevelled burglar Angel. The events in Every Dead Thing set Parker on a course which Connolly explores over the next 14 novels. Increasingly, that path brings Parker deeper into the “honeycomb world” where the supernatural meets our world.

Following this character over the course of the novels you see him change, and age. His relationships change, his values and outlook on the world also. At the beginning of the series Parker is a man who could easily have been destroyed by the loss of his family, but as we learn during the series, Parker’s dead family haven’t necessarily left him behind.

The supporting cast of the series increases as we move forward, and one character in particular, called The Collector, has a special significance. I may be wrong, but I see Collector as the character that Parker could have become, and may still yet become.

The Wolf In WinterEach book in the series features a fabulous villain and none more so than Mr. Pudd, who appeared in The Killing Kind. I won’t spoil it for you, but suffice to say that Mr. Pudd is perhaps my favourite villain in modern fiction.

I read series fiction because I am emotionally invested in the characters. I care about them and I want to know what happens to them. Over the course of the last three books beginning with The Wolf In Winter, Connolly has changed the series. It’s almost as if he knocked Parker off that path that he’d been on, and found him a new one. As a writer I found that incredibly brave, and as a reader I couldn’t be happier. Often with a series you get the impression that the quality of the books somehow diminishes as it moves on. Not so here. The books get better and better which is a marvellously rare accomplishment.

Just one word about the writing itself – it’s stunning. The great Michael J Malone posted recently about James Lee Burke and I think you could comfortably slot Connolly alongside Burke as equals in producing startlingly poetic prose.

When John Connolly publishes a new Charlie Parker book I go out and buy it, I put aside whatever else I’m reading and I open the book and read it straight through. I can’t say better than that.


Steve CavanaghSteve Cavanagh was born and raised in Belfast and is a practicing lawyer and holds a certificate in Advanced Advocacy. He writes fast-paced legal thrillers set in New York City featuring lead character Eddie Flynn. His first novel, The Defence , was chosen as one of Amazon’s great debuts for 2015, as part of their Amazon Rising Stars programme.
Find out more at www.stevecavanagh.com or you can find Steve on Twitter: @SSCav

You can buy Steve’s books by clicking through this link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Steve-Cavanagh/e/B00OAGCA62/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1469748794&sr=1-2-ent

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Posted July 28, 2016 by Gordon in category "From The Bookshelf