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This is another book in the Charlie Parker series written by John Connolly and follows on from The Killing Kind. Charlie gets a call from an old friend, Elliott, who is defending a black teenager accused of murdering his rich, white girlfriend. Elliott is so sure the teenager didn't do it he has used his house as collateral for bail but he can't seem to prove it. Charlie decides to go and help and when he meets the teenager, Atys Jones, he realises Elliott was right and he hasn't murdered the girl but can he keep Atys alive long enough to prove otherwise?
What I really liked about this book was right from the word go there were a number of plotlines all going on together, an age old feud, a racially motivated hanging, secrets from the past of a group of rich middle aged men and the preacher Faulkner from the last book and his antics in prison. I wasn't sure how all these plots linked but they did and the author managed to tie them all together beautifully.
Charlie is his usual determined self and no matter how much people try to stand in his way he manages to slowly piece together the truth in snippets. Angel and Louis, his criminal friends, have a storyline of their own in all the different plots but also manage to find time to help Charlie out with the investigation and the amount of presence from them is perfectly balanced with everything else that's going on.
As for all the plotlines, each one could have been a book in its own right but as small factors of the larger picture they work well to keep the reader hooked and wondering how they all fit together. I've actually read this book twice and had forgotten the ending until I was nearly there but once I remembered it I also remembered what a great twist it was. It's not difficult to work out who the killer is and there's little attempt to hide this from us but it's never simple with John Connolly and the reasons behind the murders are complicated and some might feel justified.
As usual there is an element of otherworldly happenings but the supernatural bits aren't as plentiful as in some of the other Charlie Parker books. They are still there though and make it an eerie read at times. Again as usual pay attention to the characters because some of them will feature again, this is often the case with John Connolly's books which is why they work best read in sequence but they also make a great read if you just plucked one from the series and read it.
This is another brilliant addition to the Charlie Parker series and doesn't lack in any department. I recommend anyone who likes a chilling thriller to read this and particularly if you like a busy plotline with lots of branches that eventually all make sense.
The White Road is available from Amazon for £5.00 new and from 1p used. I would say buy it rather than borrow it as it's one that's so complex you may forget bits and find you can happily read it again, like I did.
When Charlie Parker visits the Reverend Faulkner in prison, the man who was the real leader behind the religious group known as The Fellowship, he is left quite literally with a bad taste in the back of his throat. After spitting in Parker's mouth, Faulkner tells the Private Investigator that he "will be able to see now what I see." And, indeed, upon leaving the jail, Parker sees a vision of the Black Angels, normally reserved for his nightmares, hovering over the prison and perched on it's walls. To everyone else they appear as ravens but this is not the first visitation that Parker has had. Recently a battered and ruined coup-de-ville has been seen driving up and down the road outside Parker's house. The same coup-de-ville that Parker saw destroyed; the same coup-de-ville that was formerly owned by the now-deceased assassin known as Stritch....it seems as though even in death, his enemies have come back to haunt him and are joining forces, the better to take him down.....
Meanwhile long-time associate, Angel still blames Parker for not taking down the Reverend when he had the chance. Scarred both physically and mentally from the time of his capture at the hands of Faulkner and his son, Leonard Pudd, he is a shadow of his former self and even partner Louis is not sure how to fix him. When Parker is asked to help on the case of a young black man wrongly accused of murder in Carolina, the pair take time-out to settle an old score of their own. Meanwhile, Parker discovers once again that like with Jack Mercier and his most recent case, he is not being told the full story and that the old friend who hired his services has plenty of secrets he is holding back and that his friend's past history could now have started to come back and bite him on the ass!!!!
Once again, Connolly has gone out of his way to prove why he is one of the top thriller writers of this generation with another tense, gritty drama that ends with a sting in it's tail!!! The climatic end sequences leave you hanging quite literally on the edge of your seat and there is not one second when this book fails to deliver. Though the main plot bears some similarities to the previous novel before this, the ante has been raised and there are more twists and turns than you can shake a stick at. The paranormal angle has also become more prevalent and it slowly becomes harder and harder to dismiss as all a figment of Parker's imagination as events seem to be conspiring to bring him towards some kind of final confrontation. I love the way however, that it is all left to the reader's discretion and how, in a recent interview, even Connolly himself has discussed the possibility that Parker is a less than a reliable source when it comes to narrating events and that there is as much chance he is on his way to a full-scale nervous breakdown as there is that something supernatural is going on. How many of us, for example, have embellished or added our own interpretation on events when recalling them to a third party? The fact that nothing could be as it seems only adds to the tension that flows through this best-selling series and is a good indication of just what makes the Parker novels so popular....
Recurring themes that have flowed through this series reoccur here; there is the look at the way that people of black origin have been treated in the not-so-distant past and a further examination of the events that lead to the creation of Angel and Louis as the characters they are now. There are also more themes of redemption and salvation heavily laden in this latest book as Parker tries to justify his past to himself and seek some kind of inner peace with his actions. And that is without mentioning the heavy religious connotations that hint at something much bigger, acient and menacing going on.
If you have enjoyed the other Parker novels, then you are going to enjoy this as it is certainly as good as anything that has come before it. I still believe THE KILLING KIND to his best book yet but this comes a close second with it's tale of old crimes that have gone so far unpunished. There is also plenty of suggestion that wherever Parker is headed, it is not going to be a very pleasant place and that there are, without a doubt, some very dark times ahead......
John Connolly's harrowing Charlie Parker adventures continue in The White Road, a bleak modern gothic tale detailing the tortured detective's metaphorical journey into the unthought of depths of the underworld as he follows a trail of horrors in America's deep South. Doggedly loyal to old friends and stubbornly supportive of lost causes, Parker encounters his own ghosts in a place where atmosphere alone would murder hope. The chilling preacher Faulkner is again a dark presence in the background while Parker's friends, Angel and Louis, damaged and deadly, follow their own avenging trail. There can be no greater compliment to Connolly's powers of description than to say that no US writer could improve on the Irish journalist's masterly summoning of the roots of American regional evil and sense of place. Superb storytelling that binds diverse and hypnotic strands of plot with Biblical overtones and fury. The villains are larger than life and diabolically unforgettable: from the strange and menacing Mr Kittim to deformed killer Cyrus Nairn, both of whom lead Parker down one shadowy road after another. Compelling adventures from start to finish, if the very stuff of waking nightmares. The dark side has never proven so damn seductive.