A Song of Shadows by John Connolly is the newest in the fine line of supernatural serial murder mysteries involving one of the better characters in novels today; Charlie Parker.
“…And his eyes…Had she been on more friendly terms with Bobby Soames, they might well have found common ground in their impression of Parker. She had only ever seen pictures of him before he arrived, but she wondered if his eyes had always been so haunted, and so haunting. They were the eyes of someone who had witnessed events beyond the comprehension of others, and perhaps even his own. She knew that his heart had stopped three times after the shooting, and he had been resuscitated on each occasion. Perhaps the victim of such traumas lost a little of himself every time, and left part of his being behind in the darkness. Or perhaps he brought something of the darkness back with him…”
Charlie Parker was ambushed in his home, riddled by shotgun, and left to die. And that is what he did. He died, three times, and three times he came back. Now he has moved to a sleepy little coastal town named Boreas, where everyone knows everyone nothing ever happens. That is until a dead body is brought in by the tide. Now Parker is back. He doesn’t want to be, all he wants to do is get better, but he can’t shake the feeling that there is much more to this dead body than a suicide. Something dark and evil.
“…I’ve been trying to figure out all evening why, when I looked at Steiger, there was something familiar about him. I just now remembered what it was: his face reminds me of one of Galton’s composites, as if what was wrong with him inside had seeped through his pores and caused his skull to mutate.’
‘Your job would be a whole lot easier if you could tell the bad folk by the way they looked,’ said Angel. ‘Or you could just end up putting behind bars a whole lot of ugly people who’d never done anyone any harm, and leave a bunch of beautiful people with dead souls free to walk the streets.’
They stood to leave.
‘Galton had it all wrong,’ said Walsh. ‘The worst of them, the really foul ones, they hide their badness deep inside. They look just like average Joes and Janes, but underneath they’re rotten right down to the core, and we don’t find out about them until it’s too late…”
Parker digs into the mystery of the small town of Boreas and unearths a past as dark and deep as the horrors of a forgotten Nazi Concentration Camp. Now that past is coming back and threatening the innocents around him. With the help of hired killers, Louis and Angel, Parker steps back into the fray. But will it be enough to save the lives and will it put at risk his lone remaining child.
Charlie Parker is a contradiction. A father who is haunted by his murdered daughter and fearful of his living one. A husband who has buried one murdered wife and left by the other. His friends fear and love him and their devotion to the Detective is as deep as his is to them. Together they have been through battles that others would not have survived. In Parker, Connolly has created the ultimate flawed hero. He kills. He murders and he goes up against forces that are beyond humanity. But he goes on.
What makes the Parker series so enjoyable is the relationships between Parker and all the other characters. Connolly infuses his mysteries with characters that breathe and move on their own. They are not just window dressing and props for the setting as the main character drives the novel.
A Charlie Parker novel is not your normal murder mystery. It is not your run of the mill ghost story. It is an intense and deeply detailed hybrid. Each novel stands on its own but the series flows. If you have never read a Charlie Parker you are missing out, but try as you can to start with the earlier ones.
A terrific read!