Louis And Angel: Charlie Parker Series Couple Defy Stereotypes
John Connolly’s Charlie Parker book series first dropped in 1999. If you got in on the ground floor, which I didn’t, then it might surprise you that the series is still around over two decades later. If you’ve kept up with the series, though, then it comes as no surprise. Throughout the years, Connolly has built a large and rich world, due in no small part to that world’s characters. And no (living) characters are as important to the series as Parker’s friends, Louis and Angel.
A (Very) Brief Guide to the Charlie Parker Series
1999’s Every Dead Thing was our introduction to Charlie Parker. He’s a bit of a mess when we meet him. He’s an NYPD cop, but not a particularly great one. That’s probably because he’s also kind of a drunk. In fact, he’s at a bar when the inciting incident of the novel–the murder of his wife and daughter–occurs.
image via Hachette UK
The murders are brutal, and Parker feels guilty that he wasn’t there for his family. He leaves the force and becomes a private investigator, which also makes it easier for him to hunt the person who killed his family. He finds that person, but Parker’s work isn’t done. As a character muses in the upcoming book The Nameless Ones, “…if you were a good person in distress, and you asked for his help, you got it.”
Throughout the series, Connolly expands Parker’s universe, showing us how we live in a “honeycomb world.” We see the world as it is to us, but it’s not all that there is. Our world is intertwined with other realities, and not all of them are good or pleasant. What’s worse is, there are people and things in our reality that would like nothing more for that badness to seep into our world. From A Time of Torment, the fourteenth book in the series:
‘There’s a kind of evil that isn’t even in opposition to good, because good is an irrelevance to it. It’s a foulness that’s right at the heart of existence, born with the stuff of the universe. It’s in the decay to which all things tend. It is, and it always will be, but in dying we leave it behind.’
‘And while we’re alive?’
‘We set our souls against it, and our saints and angels, too.’ He patted Parker on the shoulder. ‘Especially the destroying ones.’
Enter the Destroying Angels
In addition to the supernatural yet reality-grounded world that Connolly has created, he’s also filled it with rich and real characters. Over the course of the series, Parker has had to fight a lot of evil people (and again, things), so unsurprisingly, he’s needed help more than once. By this point, he’s got a pretty good team. However, as I said in the introduction, no one outside of Parker is more important to the series than Louis and Angel.
They appear in the series from the beginning in Every Dead Thing. And they’re compelling right away. Louis is a well-dressed and cultured Black man from the American South. He’s also one of the world’s deadliest hitmen. He really doesn’t do that as a job anymore, but his skills haven’t gone soft.
Angel, on the other hand, is not a killer by trade. Oh, he’ll kill if he has to, but his criminal background has largely been in burglary. And as for his physical appearance, he’s of uncertain background. He’s also not nearly as well-kept as Louis–Angel’s wardrobe and general appearance are often described in terms that denote a garish and/or schlumpy kind of look. Angel isn’t a total bumpkin, though; he’s just much less refined than Louis.
Louis and Angel Put the Power in Power Couple
That’s why you might not expect that Louis and Angel are actually a very happy couple. Like, together together. The closer you look, though, the more sense it makes. Yes, they tend to bicker–a lot–but they’re just one of those couples that does that.
Besides, they’re bickering about silly little things–when it comes to bigger issues, they’re on the same wavelength. Mostly. What they don’t disagree on, although they might never say it explicitly, is the comfort they give each other. Both of them come from backgrounds that were troubled for varying reasons, and it affected them in varying ways. It’s clear, though, that in each other, they’ve found a home. This is what love looks like.
At the same time, it doesn’t look like most portrayals of gay coupledom. There’s little that’s stereotypical about either of them, I mean. And while I’m not discounting those other portrayals–it’s not really my lane to comment on them or their value, anyway–I can’t help but find Louis and Angel, and the way Connolly writes them, refreshing.
Couple to Be Focus of Next Parker Series Book
image via Hachette Australia
In the history of the Charlie Parker series, Louis and Angel have taken center-stage before, in 2008’s The Reapers. They’ll be the focus of the series again in this year’s The Nameless Ones. In this one, Louis and Angel are leaving the confines of their Upper East Side apartment for Europe, where they’ll hunt down a group of Serbian war criminals.
I am hesitant, though, to say much about the most recent book at this time. For one thing, I don’t want to spoil earlier books in the series. I want more people to be reading the series. It and Angela Marsons’s Kim Stone series, which I mentioned in my April 2021 Free Time, are my favorite book series…es. I also plan to write about The Nameless Ones closer to its release date, which will be later this year (in the United States, at least).
I will say, however, that it’s as good as any book before it. While Parker mainly has a cameo role, that’s fine. Louis and Angel and the things they do are compelling enough to carry a book on their own. Like Parker, they’ve set their souls against evil and they’re not afraid to do what it takes to fight it. Or as Angel tells someone in The Nameless Ones, “The law has largely failed their victims so far because it has its limits. We, on the other hand, do not.” That’s true both of their approach to their work and how Connolly writes them–without limits, without easy preconceptions, and always entertaining.
Have you read the Charlie Parker books and would like to talk at length about Louis and Angel? Are you still haunted by the Dead King or the God of Wasps? Let us know in these comments or on our social media.
featured image via Simon and Schuster
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.