The Instruments of Darkness
July 1, 2024

Book Review

The Instruments of Darkness

In this 21st book in the ‘Charlie Parker’ series, the sleuth investigates the disappearance of a child. This supernatural mystery thriller works fine as a standalone.

When two-year-old Henry Clark disappears from his toddler bed in Portland, Maine, suspicion quickly falls on Henry’s mother, Colleen. Colleen’s husband, Stephen, who was on a business trip when Henry vanished, tells the police that Colleen had postpartum depression and anger issues. When Stephen finds a blood-stained blanket in the trunk of Colleen’s car, that clinches it.

For her part, Colleen says she had a glass of wine, fell asleep, and woke up to find Henry gone. Colleen further claims to know nothing about the blood-stained blanket in her car, but the authorities don’t believe her and prepare to make an arrest.

Colleen is represented by attorney Moxie Castin, who works with private detective Charlie Parker. Colleen, who’s distraught about her missing child, believes Parker will understand her plight because he lost his daughter years ago.

Little Henry’s disappearance galvanizes the public, and journalists, vloggers, amateur detectives, web sleuths, and would-be podcasters, along with protesters of various types, haunt the Clarks’ neighborhood. Vandals aren’t far behind, and Parker engages two bruisers, Paulie and Tony Fauci, to guard Colleen’s house.

Meanwhile, state attorney general Paul Novak and assistant attorney general Erin Becker see an opportunity in the situation. Novak plans to run for governor, and Becker hopes to climb the ladder into Novak’s shoes. A successful prosecution of Colleen Clark would help their ambitions, and they mean to put her on trial and lock her up.

As Parker investigates Henry’s disappearance, he learns that Colleen’s husband, Stephen, had an affair with a woman, Mara Teller, whom he met at a National Gas and Petrochemicals Forum. When Parker tries to track down Teller, who’s supposedly an industry consultant, he finds that Teller’s name is fake and her company doesn’t exist.

Meanwhile, a psychic named Sabine Drew, who’s had mixed results finding missing children, contacts Parker. Sabine tells Parker she hears young Henry screaming in her head and that the boy is in the clutches of an evil entity. Parker is skeptical—but since he sees and speaks to his dead daughter Jennifer, Parker doesn’t blow Sabine off.

As all this is happening in Portland, we visit rural Maine, where the wooded property of the Michaud family harbors a very old house built from Sears Kit #174. No one has ever lived in the house, which is dilapidated but secure, with a heavy steel door. The unfinished basement of the dwelling harbors an ancient unseen hungry presence.

The Michauds, two sisters and a brother, have a home near the Sears dwelling and do their best to ensure that no one disturbs the old place. This is getting more difficult because militant Neo-Nazis have a camp near the Michaud property, and they want to rent Sears House #174. The Neo-Nazis are funded by billionaire racist Bobby Ocean, who’s an old enemy of Charlie Parker.

A firebomb thrown at Colleen Clark’s house, seemingly by acquaintances of Bobby Ocean, brings Parker to rural Maine. As always in dangerous situations, Parker brings his good friends Angel and Louis, two tough birds who like nothing better than killing bad guys.

The novel is long and complicated, but all the storylines come together in an exciting, action-packed climax. People like to say Charlie Parker has nine lives, which is great, because I look forward to his further adventures.

The Instruments of Darkness is available at:

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