The Burning Soul by John Connolly

Read October 2018
Recommended for fans of  mysteries, thrillers
★     ★    ★    1/2

“Now, in her office at the corner of Park and Freeport, she watched the rain trace an intricate veinery upon her window, as though the glass were an organic creation like the wing of an insect. Her mood grew heavier with each falling raindrop, with each dead leaf that drifted by, with each bare inch of branch that was newly revealed by the dying foliage. How often had she thought about leaving this state? Every fall brought the same realization: this was the best of it until March, perhaps even April. As bad as this was, with sodden leaves, and cold drizzle, and darkness in the mornings and darkness in the evenings, the winter would be so much worse. Oh, there would be moments of beauty, as when the sunlight scattered the first snows with gems, and the world in those early daylight hours would seem cleansed of its ugliness, purged of its sins, but then the filth would accrue, and the snow would blacken.”

Oh, those Irish; how they write.

The Burning Soul improves on the last book, The Whisperers, by staying focused on the mystery. Yes, I know the paragraph above implies not, but what’s worth noting is that the above is only a paragraph, not a page or two. I’ll forgive Connolly these lyrical, scene and mood-building moments (and have I not thought the very same thing every November?) because they are so lovely.

In this one, the lawyer Amy brings in Parker to dig up information on her client, and hopefully help her protect him before he’s framed for murder. He’s a most unlovely client, and we all have many misgivings, and Connolly does some very interesting things with the character. Since the narrative alternates between Parker’s first person point of view, and a more general third person limited, he cheats a little, to be sure, but I forgive him because it’s decently done.

The narrative also includes points of view from a Boston mobster underling, from Amy, and from the client. I enjoyed most of it, although the Boston perspective was a surprise, and I confess, a bit of an unwelcome one. It’s mostly because my Italian mob interests, somewhat fanned in the 1980s, were well and finished with The Sopranos. The stories dovetail nicely, although it takes time.

Interestingly, the supernatural element that had played a solid role in the previous book is largely absent here. I found myself somewhat missing it at times, but since those elements are usually used to explore morality, the absence wasn’t that notable. Dialogue with Parker, Amy, and various law officers still provide opportunities to question sins, guilt, hauntings, and truth. It’s woven well into the story and the action.

My misgivings include the mob angle; the relatively quick and violent ending, which seemed incongruous for the type of predators operating; and the retrospective nature of the final wrap-up. On the other hand, I was relieved that Connolly did not choose to dwell on the nature of the abduction and the potential torture of the missing child, as that is a deal-breaker for me. Ultimately, a solid entry in the series.


About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
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