John Connolly’s The Burning Soul

As with the other series I’ve read so far, I’ll wait on judging the series as a whole until I’ve read at least one more book in the series. The Burning Soul is John Connolly’s tenth in the Charlie Parker series, so he’s had a bit of time to develop the character–I might appreciate this one more if I’d read previous books but it’s a decent compliment to the author that this one made sense on its own.

The book’s set in a small town in Maine; a girl has just vanished, presumably abducted, and the police are nosing around in search of her, her abductor or any information as to her whereabouts. Randall Haight, mild mannered accountant in Parker’s Bay, is terrified; at the age of fourteen, he was an accomplice in the rape and murder of an African American girl. He and his friend were both sent to juvenile hall, then adult prison but when released, both were given new identities and sent to new communities as it was judged by the legal system that they’d served the punishment for their crime and were no longer a danger to society. Now, however, Haight’s been receiving anonymous letters and photographs from someone who clearly knows what he did so many years ago. Here’s where Connolly’s detective Charlie Parker comes in; Haight’s lawyer hires him to investigate the abduction in Haight’s new home town, in the hopes that Haight will be exonerated. He is in the end…but not in quite the way readers might expect.

I’d call this a thriller with supernatural elements, though the latter is somewhat softpedalled; I’m not sure whether the “supernatural elements” were that or the hallucinations of someone mentally ill. Definitely dudelit, though. On the down side, it seems like Connolly crams so much into a comparatively short novel that it seems every plot twist and character are red herrings. On the plus side, I’m impressed with Connolly’s writing (more on this in my next review); he actually does manage to pull it off mostly.


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