Review: The Burning Soul (Charlie Parker #10) by John Connolly

The Burning Soul (Charlie Parker #10) by John Connolly
Publisher: Atria (Sept 2011)
Source: From publisher for review
Charlie Parker Series

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?

“There are some truths so terrible that they should not be spoken aloud, so appalling that even to acknowledge them is to risk sacrificing a crucial part of one’s humanity, to exist in a colder, crueler world than before.”

Randall Haight has a secret: He is a convicted murderer, a man with the blood of a young girl on his hands. He has built a new life for himself in the small Maine town of Pastor’s Bay, but someone has discovered the truth about him. He is being tormented by anonymously sent reminders of his crime. He wants private detective Charlie Parker to make them go away.

But another girl has gone missing, this time from Pastor’s Bay itself, and her family has its own secrets to protect. Now, in a town built on blood and shadowed by old ghosts, Parker must unravel a twisted history of violence and deceit involving the police and the FBI, a doomed mobster and his enemies, and Randall Haight himself.

Because Randall is telling lies. . . .

Winter is coming, and a 14 year old girl is missing in the small town of Pastor’s Bay. Problem is, this is no ordinary missing child case. Randall Haight has retreated to tiny Pastor’s Bay after serving 18 years in prison for the killing of a 14 year old girl when he himself was only a child. He’s now an accountant and is trying to create a quiet and private life for himself, or so it seems. When he begins receiving possible blackmail material, he turns to his lawyer for help, who, in turn, calls on Charlie Parker. Charlie, spurred on by his own dark past and also his young daughter’s ominous warning, is intrigued and agrees to do what he can. Usually that includes things that may be a little left of the law, but that’s part of why I love Charlie Parker.

I adore this series, and will usually drop what I’m reading as soon as I get anything by John Connolly in my hands. Way back when I picked up Every Dead Thing, the first book in the Charlie Parker series, I started a love affair with this series, and with a character that seems as real as a fictional character can. Charlie is a deeply wounded man, and constantly carries with him the memory of his first wife and daughter’s murders. He carries the blame of that terrible day, even though the evil that took his family was beyond anything he could have imagined. That day drives him in nearly everything he does. Charlie is a white knight with grey methods, and he’s managed to earn a reputation as a man who gets things done. His relationship with law enforcement is tenuous at best, and he’ll run into more than one problem with them in The Burning Soul. The narrative goes from first person (Charlie) to third person, usually two Boston thugs who are somehow linked to the case. Connolly’s rendering of small town life is fascinating, and Pastor’s Bay is seething with long buried, and sometimes dangerous secrets. You may find yourself wondering what organized crime has to do with the girl’s disappearance, but it does, and probably not in any way you can guess. Connolly’s writing is never simple and his stories are always complex. However, you’ll never find yourself lost or confused, and everything will tie together in time, I promise, and it’s always a delight when all the elements of these books come together.

The author’s prose is as beautiful as always, and creates a sense of melancholy that hangs over the events, punctuated by the ravens that always seem to be watching over the town. The Charlie Parker series has a touch of the supernatural to it, and its seamless integration with noir and mystery makes this one of the most superb series out there today. One of my favorite duos, Louis and Angel, make an appearance in The Burning Soul as do the Fulci brothers (albeit very briefly), which is always a joy. I consider myself a fairly jaded mystery/thriller reader, but The Burning Soul had some twists that I didn’t see coming, and kept me up very, very late finishing the book. The Burning Soul is not as “heavy” as previous novels where Charlie is concerned (don’t get me wrong, there’s still “heavy” here), focusing a little more on the procedural aspect of the case, but that’s ok, since it was no less fascinating than the others, and there are some truly haunting and shocking moments. If you haven’t discovered this wonderful series, then you’re in for a treat! Start with Every Dead Thing, and prepare to be hooked.

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  1. Looks like I’m shuffling the TBR pile again… moving up the John Connolly.

  2. If I still read adult mysteries this would be a series I would pick up definitely!
    It sounds like it isn’t formulaic and a hint of the paranormal sounds great!


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