"Connolly delivers a very intense blend of Parker's authentic soul searching and of his own distinctive, moody grue."
"Connolly . . . once again blends the private eye novel and the supernatural thriller in a way that's altogether unique."
"Connolly spins this tale so intricately that once you are drawn in you will not get out till you finish the book, and there's a damn good chance you'll do that in one sitting."
The Black Angel
Parker's search for the "Black Angel" relic leads to violence in this world and war in the next.
A young woman goes missing from the streets of New York. Those who have taken her believe that nobody cares about her, and no one will come looking for her. They are wrong. She is ''blood'' to the killer Louis, the man who stands at the right hand of private detective Charlie Parker, and Louis will tear apart anyone who stands in the way of his efforts to find her. But as Louis's violent search progresses, Parker comes to realize that the disappearance is part of an older mystery, one that is linked to an ornate church of bones in Eastern Europe; to the slaughter at a French monastery in 1944; and to the quest for a mythical prize that has been sought for centuries by evil men: the Black Angel. Yet the Black Angel is more than a myth. It is conscious. It dreams. It is alive. And men are not the only creatures that seek it. . .
The rebel angels fell, garlanded with fire.
And as they descended, tumbling through the void, they were cursed as the newly blind are cursed, for just as the darkness is more terrible for those who have known the light, so the absence of grace is felt more acutely by those who once dwelt in its warmth. The angels screamed in their torment, and their burning brought brightness to the shadows for the first time. The lowest of them cowered in the depths, and there they created their own world in which to dwell.
As the last angel fell, he looked to heaven and saw all that was to be denied him for eternity, and the vision was so terrible to him that it burned itself upon his eyes. And so, as the skies closed above him, it was given to him to witness the face of God disappear among gray clouds, and the beauty and sorrow of the image was imprinted forever in his memory, and upon his sight. He was cursed to walk forever as an outcast, shunned even by his own kind, for what could be more agonizing for them than to see, each time they looked in his eyes, the ghost of God flickering in the blackness of his pupils?
And so alone was he that he tore himself in two, that he might have company in his long exile, and together these twin parts of the same being wandered the still-forming earth. In time, they were joined by a handful of the fallen who were weary of cowering in that bleak kingdom of their own creation. After all, what is hell but the eternal absence of God? To exist in a hellish state is to be denied forever the promise of hope, of redemption, of love. To those who have been forsaken, hell has no geography.
But these angels at last grew weary of roaming throughout the desolate world without an outlet for their rage and their despair. They found a deep, dark place in which to sleep, and there they secreted themselves away and waited. And after many years, mines were dug, and tunnels lit, and the deepest and greatest of these excavations was among the Bohemian silver mines at Kutná Hora, and it was called Kank.
And it was said that when the mine reached its final depth, the lights carried by the miners flickered as though troubled by a breeze where no breeze could exist, and a great sighing was heard, as of souls released from their bondage. A stench of burning arose, and tunnels collapsed, trapping and killing those beneath. A storm of filth and dirt emerged, sweeping through the mine, choking and blinding all in its path. Those who survived spoke of voices in the abyss, and the beating of wings in the midst of the clouds. The storm ascended toward the main shaft, bursting forth into the night sky, and the men who saw it glimpsed a redness at its heart, as though it were all aflame.
And the rebel angels took upon themselves the appearance of men, and set about creating a kingdom that they might rule through stealth and the corrupted will of others. They were led by the twin demons, the greatest of their number, the Black Angels. The first, called Ashmael, immersed himself in the fires of battle, and whispered empty promises of glory into the ears of ambitious rulers. The other, called Inmael, waged his own war upon the earth of the One who had banished his brother. He gloried in fire and rape, and his shadow fell upon the sacking of monasteries and the burning of chapels. Each half of this twin being bore the mark of God as a white mote in his eye, Ashmael in his right eye and Inmael in his left.
But in his arrogance and wrath, Inmael allowed himself to be glimpsed for a moment in his true, blighted form. He was confronted by a Cistercian monk named Erdric from the monastery at Sedlec, and they fought above vats of molten silver in a great foundry. At last, Inmael was cast down, caught in the moment of transformation from human to Other, and he fell into the hot ore. Erdric called for the metal to be slowly cooled, and Inmael was trapped in silver, powerless to free himself from the purest of prisons.
And Ashmael felt his pain, and sought to free him, but the monks hid Inmael well, and kept him from those who would release him from his bonds. Yet Ashmael never stopped seeking his brother, and in time he was joined in his search by those who shared his nature, and by men corrupted by his promises. They marked themselves so that they might be known to one another, and their mark was a grapnel, a forked hook, for in the old lore this was the first weapon of the fallen angels.
And they called themselves “Believers.”