- Shaun Baines
Nocturnes by John Connolly
Short story collections are oft maligned by publishers and unfairly so in my opinion. In the age of the box set, they represent a literary equivalent. When a heavy weight author like John Connolly presents a collection, you'd be forgiven for thinking things were changing. It certainly demands your attention, which I gave it over ten years after it was published.
Because I'm an idiot.
John Connolly is best known for his superb Charlie Parker series, but Nocturnes represents a chance for him to spread his dark wings. He shines a light into the creepier recesses of his mind and brings us stories to keep us awake at night.
There isn't a dud among them, but there are some that are worthy of particular mention. The Inkpot Monkey is the classic 'be careful of what you wish for' stories with a unhealthy does of occultism. Some Children Wander by Mistake takes our inherent (and perfectly understandable) fear of clowns and dials it up a notch. It's frightening, but with an underlying tragic element that makes it unforgettable.
My personal favourite is The Cancer Cowboy Rides. I'd like to say the title tells you all you need to know about the story, but it doesn't. There is so much more, but you'll have to read it for yourself. It's too good to spoil here.
And for those Charlie Parker fans, of which I am one, there is a Parker novella called The Reflecting Eye. It introduces a character called the Collector, who appears in many of the novels. Deserving of a series all of his own, the Collector is malevolence in a trench coat and it was fascinating to read his origin story.
Needless to say, I can't recommend Nocturnes enough. Embrace the box set and find it here on Amazon.