Shelter, published by Harlan Coben in 2011 is touted as “The Number One Bestseller”, and described as a gripping story about fifteen-year-old Mickey Bolitar, nephew of regular Coben character Myron Bolitar. It was indeed gripping, or at least attention holding, but it also felt like something intended for the young adult market. The teenage hero, a perfect gentlemen, bravely rushes into encounters with the worst villains a thriller writer can imagine (which makes them extremely evil) in an attempt to rescue his girlfriend. He also meets a strange old woman whose World War II era Nazi enemy is still after her. But since he killed her father when she was a little girl, can it really be him? Are his grandchildren or great grandchildren carrying on the mission?
John Connolly published “A Time of Torment” in 2016. Here also the forces of evil are extremely evil, but in this case they are members of an isolated rural community in Virginia who worship a cult object called The Dead King. They meet their nemesis in PI Charlie Parker, who seems to be invincible since his near death experience. Parker has two formidable sidekicks and receives extra assistance from a daughter with strange powers. Connolly’s villains don’t merely kill people, they like to cause them mental suffering before they die. Of all the unlikely aspects of this mildly supernatural thriller, the existence of so many people with the determination and persistence to devote themselves to causing misery might be the most unlikely. It would be more convincing, and interesting, for the misery to be caused by people who simply don’t care about the damage they do, or don’t even notice.
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