I ordered this from the library with ambivalence; though I enjoy Connolly’s writing, I didn’t find the first book of the Charlie Parker series particularly enjoyable (body count was a little high for me). However, book 8, The Lovers, was engrossing and well done, so I thought it was worth finding out more about Parker’s timeline. Also, his Samuel Jackson series is excellent. I found a rather solid mystery-thriller, peppered with the descriptive passages I’ve come to love.
The plot centers around Parker doing a pity-favor for a old childhood acquaintance. She’d like child support from her husband Billy Purdue so she can take their son and head out of state. Billy thinks he’s gonna make good if his latest plan works: only trouble is that it means stealing from a desperate mob boss. Billy and the money disappear, Rita and her son are killed, and everyone’s on the hunt for the money. Parker is ready to let it go when the ghosts of the dead start haunting him. As he works to find Billy, Parker runs into a local horror legend and the case that haunted his grandfather back in his policing days. Like good friends do, Angel and Louis come to keep an eye on Parker’s exposed back.
That’s the rough set-up, frequently peppered with conflict. The body count is high: about 2/3 through when I realized we were in double digits of witnessed deaths, not counting stories about people who have been killed (seriously–it was easily in the 20s). I’m unsure why many of these were necessary to the story, as they don’t particularly bring added suspense. The mob plotline seemed a little bit… I don’t know. Extraneous? Dated? Passe as a villain, although Parker certainly recognizes that’s why they’ve become so desperate. On the more positive side of the body count, Connolly he doesn’t seem as absorbed in the details of the deaths as in the first book, which made them easier to tolerate or skim over. And why skim over? Because tucked into the thriller is a clever mystery, even if I did figure it out, as well as Connolly’s engaging writing. There are beautiful passages of description creating both the love for the Maine area and the acceptance of its old and bloody history.
“‘I’m sorry,’ I said, the words so small that they were quickly lost in the enormity of what he was facing.”
Parker continues to evolve emotionally as he faces the one-year anniversary of his family’s death. Connolly avoids wallowing in angst and starts to take it to the next step. Angel and Louis play significant roles, and part of the enjoyment in the story is the dynamic between them and Parker. There are moments where they each open up about their own darkness to Parker, and I absolutely got the sense of connection and of friendship between a trio who have started to morph into avenging angels.
Overall, it’s worth my time to continue checking it out, although my problems with the genre mean it isn’t one I’ll devour back to back.