Ahhhh. If there is one thing that makes me very happy it is when one of my favourite authors releases the next book in one of my all time favourite series. So I was a very happy bunny last week when the latest Charlie Parker novel by John Connolly, A Book of Bones, found its way onto my kindle. (Even happy when my signed first edition arrived from Ireland just a couple of days later.) Before I tell you what I thought of the book, I’ll first tell you what it is all about, shall I?
About the Book
The new thrilling instalment of John Connolly’s popular Charlie Parker series.
He is our best hope.
He is our last hope.
On a lonely moor in the northeast of England, the body of a young woman is discovered near the site of a vanished church. In the south, a girl lies buried beneath a Saxon mound. To the southeast, the ruins of a priory hide a human skull.
Each is a sacrifice, a summons.
And something in the shadows has heard the call.
But another is coming: Parker the hunter, the avenger. Parker’s mission takes him from Maine to the deserts of the Mexican border; from the canals of Amsterdam to the streets of London – he will track those who would cast this world into darkness.
Parker fears no evil.
But evil fears him . . .
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Twenty years of Charlie Parker. Can you believe it? Me neither, although in truth that’s because I came to the series a lot later than most, not having become acquainted with our favourite Private Investigator until July 2015. I’ve made up for lost time since though, reading all sixteen books, now seventeen, in record time. It’s been a really hard slog these past four years – hard in as much as I had to wait a whole year between new stories as I devoured the first thirteen books over a period of 6 months, getting me all set to keep time with the series from A Time of Torment onward. They are addictive, all consuming, and A Book of Bones is every bit as much so as its predecessors.
Pretty much all of the books in the series are long ,and you certainly get your monies worth of entertainment, but at seven hundred pages, this is a beast of a book. And yet it doesn’t feel like it, not in the slightest. I didn’t devote myself entirely to reading the book, I broke it down over the weekend, and with thirteen segments it is a book which lends itself towards that quite nicely. But when I starter reading I found I was lost in the pages, caught up once more in Charlie Parker’s world. I gave my mornings to the sunshine – a rare occurrence for a long Bank Holiday weekend in the UK and so one I couldn’t allow to pass me by entirely – but my afternoons and evenings were lost in shadows, immersed in the dark and dangerous world that our hero inhabits.
A Book Of Bones is somewhat of a conclusion – an ending. By that I mean that it draws to a close the mystery surrounding the Fractured Atlas, a story arc which has run on through several books – six I believe in total. It reunites Parker with Quayle and Mors, the two particularly deadly characters who he encountered in his last adventures in The Woman in the Woods. I don’t want to say too much about the story, but I will say that Parker is on the killers’ trail, a trail which sees him leave the relative safety (and I type that with tongue planted firmly in cheek) of Maine, and head off to Europe – Amsterdam and eventually London. It is a chase which turns deadly, a chase which could be the stuff of nightmares, were Parker and his friends ever really able to sleep soundly anymore.
For me this was a slightly unusual read. It provides us with the usual blend of mystery, suspense, theology, mythology, history and even supernatural or horror. John Connolly uses language so rich, so textured, so powerfully emotive, that you are transported in to the heart of Parker’s world, and even those of the parallel worlds which seek to destroy our own. Every detail becomes clear in your mind as a reader. I have found this from the very first book – a totally immersive kind of read in which I find myself totally an utterly lost. And yet … lifting up Parker’s world and dropping it straight into the middle of a police investigation in the UK creates a kind of duality in the narrative, one which is so starkly contrasted and yet perfectly matched that it feels as thought it should make not an ounce of sense and yet works brilliantly.
I am perfectly used to Parker, Louis and Angel and the kind of staccato cynicism and sarcasm with which they approach their endeavours. The way they bounce off each other, work with each other, makes the perfect partnership. Even Ross, albeit from a distance, fits the profile of the team to a tee. The detached nature of them all, whilst still working as one. The minimalist approach to conversation. It is the world of a Private Investigator as I have come to know it. But … it is a world that would be alien if trying to match it to a UK set police procedural and this is where I feel Mr Connolly has pulled a blinder.
By its very nature, a UK police procedural is a very different beast, and that is reflected and captured here. When we cut to the scenes with the Northumbria Police, we almost entirely switch genres. We are treated to the banter, the chance in pace of a murder investigation, as opposed to the dealing with the occult that Parker is battling, and the complete oblivion of what is happening in the wider world, something we, and Parker, are privy to, but the police are not. The tone is different. The language is different. The descriptive narrative is still perfectly chimed to the story, and you will find yourself lost on the Hexamshire moors, feel the desolate beauty of the scenery enshroud you, and you will never lose the sense of time or place. The locations used are ideal and the long, and undoubtedly twisted history of paganism and mythology in England makes a perfect setting for the conclusion of this most harrowing of tales.
And yet with the simplest of scene changes – often in the middle of the same chapter – you are back in the world of Parker and Quayle. A world of mysticism, ancient evil and a long fought quest for justice. A piece of writing suffused with an underlying sense of unease, dread and every shifting and distended shadows, which carry the threat of the honeycomb world. The very nature of a gothic horror in an all too modern landscape, Memories of stories past coming back, front and centre, if only for the briefest of moments. Nods to Parker’s history which will have the reader poised in anticipation of what could happen, lips quirking with the faintest glimmer of happiness at being in the know.
Dark, suspenseful and full of all the hallmarks of a classic Parker case, this is one tale of revenge you will not want to miss the conclusion to.
It is, in a word, brilliant.
So yes, it is long (although does not feel it) and yes, it brings closure, of a kind. Not everyone who has once journeyed from America will journey home. Not everyone will be gifted a happy ending. Well … apart from the reader. We get an ending befitting us all, and the promise of much, much more. Cannot wait.
And yes … I’m giving it one of these. Who’d a thunk it?
I love my tote bag 🙂 20 years of Parker . Here’s to 20 more!
About the Author
John Connolly was born in Dublin in 1968. His debut – EVERY DEAD THING – swiftly launched him right into the front rank of thriller writers, and all his subsequent novels have been Sunday Times bestsellers. He is the first non-American writer to win the US Shamus award. (For Every Dead Thing). In 2007 he was awarded the Irish Post Award for Literature.