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I can't quite believe that this is the 10th Charlie Parker book. I first picked up the series of supernatural thriller books when there were only four of them, each one bringing forwarded a supernatural villain to combat our hero, private detective Charlie Parker. I guess every thriller writer with a recurring hero has an element of cheekiness to their chosen literary focal point, but there's something about Parker that sets him aside from others.
I think it's probably more to do with the variety that the supernatural element gives the books and the characters, coupled with Parker's ability to call upon some deadly friends to help him solve crimes and defeat another bad guy. This particular tale though, takes us somewhat away from the spooky side of things and focuses more on the thriller element, something Connolly has done before with great success. This time, we find that Parker is trying to keep himself to himself after a few runs ins with the law. He has only recently regained his PI licence but after a call from his lawyer Aimee Price he soon finds himself deep in a case that has some personal meaning to him.
One of the developmental areas of Parker's past has been how he lost his wife and daughter, many books previous. There's a supernatural element here as they used to appear to him as ghosts for a long time after their deaths, taken from him by a killer he caught and ended in swift fashion. Here, Price asks Parker to help with a curious case of circumstance. In a sleepy remote town, one reclusive accountant's past seems to have caught up with him. Tried and convicted as an adult, he was guilty as a young teenager of attacking and killing a girl. A name change and some relocation and a good many years later, and he starts receiving disturbing images in the post, at the same time as a local girl goes missing.
Bit by bit the tension mounts as accountant Haight gets more and more worried about whether or not he should come clean to the authorities about his past, as the search for the girl intensifies. The story flicks back and forth between Parker's scenes and those of two mob goons who are doing some work that must surely relate to the story at some point. Before long, Parker finds himself in need of a little help, and he calls on his best friends, couple Angel and Louis, who usually do his dirty work for him and here serve as back up; as well as former mob goons themselves, the Fulci brothers, big bold and brash and not short of a little muscle.
But these extra characters here are just that: extras. Usually they all play a decent size role on the books and you get widespread coverage that links in well with Parker. Here though, it's as if Connolly wants a bit of a shift in proceedings. Gone is the deep and entrenched supernatural element, and instead it plays only a very minor part, at least in the impact it has. Similarly, Parker's allies seem mere padding for the tale and not really part of the main focus. And I like it. It makes a nice change in any series of books with recurring characters, when something different happens like this - it may make it similar to a lot of other crime thriller authors, but this is different for Connolly, and because of this there's a unique fashion to it: having the familiar characters but with them thrown slightly out of their comfort zone.
Connolly has said that there's a non-Parker book in the pipeline at the moment, and I do like it when these come along. I've just started reading Nocturnes, which is a collection of short stories from Connolly. I find the author has a certain way of writing 'horror' with the style of thriller writers that I'm accustomed to, in that everything is completely normal save for the occasional scene with something other worldly in it. It's different to that of say, Stephen King, in that King's tales are swamped in suspense and weirdness, whereas Connolly has this ability to provide the strange only when necessary. It varies from book to book, and by and large this one is a hit. The ending was rather predictable, and if I had a criticism it would be that perhaps there wasn't quite the same depth there usually is with his work, but this is still a great book to read. Recommended.
The latest Charlie Parker mystery, from the pen of Dublin-born author, John Connolly, sees another depature from the more supernatural elements of this series and a return to a slightly more conventional thriller format, with only a few aspects of the unknown thrown into the mix to keep things interesting.
Parker is called in by his lawyer, Aimee Price, to consult with a client who has an unsettling problem. Years ago, when he was still a child himself, Haight and his best friend killed a fellow child. They were proscecuted, tried as adults but given new identities and released back into society once it was thought that they had served their sentence. Now someone is sending Haight reminders of his former existance, photos that represent evidence of his crime, and Haight is worried that his new identity has been compromised....
But worse than that, a young girl locally has been abducted making it an even worse time for his true identity to be revealed!
Parker is torn, his own wife and daughter were brutally murdered you might remember, but agrees to take the case when aspects of it intrigue him. Still, he has his reservations and these are only increased when he is brought into conflict with the local Police Department who have brought in outside help of their own that seemingly is at odds with the case of a missing girl. As Parker delves deeper, it soon becomes clear that Haight is telling lies....and that he is not theonly one doing so!!!
This is another cracking mystery with some really great and classic Parker moments! Angel and Loius cameo again but here feel very under-used! And the Supernatural elements are still here for die-hard fans; it is just that they have been buried slightly and are more subtle and less obvious to begin with.
It is not Connolly's best work but it is still a very healthy new installment in the life of complicated Private Eye, Parker. There is much here to enjoy and big hints that something dark and frightening still lingers just around the corner for Parker, just waiting for him to slip up so it can strike!
Almost a back-to-basics novel for Parker, The Burning Soul is a must-read for fans and a great opportunity to jump onboard if you are not! Certainly I am already looking forward to the next one!