Published 1st September by Hodder & Stoughton
Last week I was very kindly invited by Hodder & Stoughton to dine in the wonderful Marx Room at the Quo Vadis restaurant in Dean Street for a dinner to celebrate the September 1st publication of the latest great novel by John Connolly.
I’ve been a fan of John’s books for a long time and have been to so many of his bookstore readings that I now find it impossible to read without hearing the words in my head in his voice – this is not a bad thing as the man reads his work in the same way that he writes it – with total passion.
Although the meal was to celebrate the 10th novel in the Charlie Parker series, The Burning Soul, for me it turned out to be a celebration of much more than that.
In itself, The Burning Soul is a major cause for celebration, as with each proceeding volume. But I also learnt that the long awaited Region 2 DVD release of The New Daughter, based on one of John’s short stories in the Nocturnes collection and starring Kevin Costner and Ivana Baquero (from Pan’s Labyrinth) is finally due to reach the UK in October, having been on US release for some time now – cannot wait to see it. The other great news for readers and for John was that his excellent standalone novel BAD MEN from a few years back has been selected to be one of the six new Flipbackbooks to be published on September 15th – a great format to now be able to have this classic novel in your jacket pocket.
Although not one of the major story arc books in the series – a fact borne out by the fact that I know that others had no real issues reading this 10th book as their first Charlie Parker tale – it does, as every book in the series, add more to Charlie Parker, whilst also taking more away from him once again – every case leaving him just that little more damaged.
He’s brought in to investigate the suspected blackmail of a former child killer, who now works with a new identity as an accountant in the town of Pastor’s Bay. The man, now known as Randall Haight, is receiving photographs and messages through the post in which somebody seems to be trying to link his crime from years before with the disappearance of another girl who has just recently been lost in the same area.
With Parker the victim left behind when his own wife and daughter were murdered before the start of the series of books, there’s a resonance with the case and it’s one that he needs to deal with on a knife edge as to clear Haight’s name, he has to delve into the man’s own crime – one that was committed when he was only a boy himself.
With a local mob leader related to the missing child, vengeance is closing in from all angles and, in true Parker spirit, when required he enlists series favourites Angel and Louis to make an appearance.
John Connolly books, particularly the Parker series, offer up much more than a crime novel. There is often the hint or occurrence of the supernatural and, if he doesn’t gift a soundtrack CD with the latest book, there are always some great musical nudges within the text to suggest what would be a great listen alongside the book. But above and beyond all of that, he simply writes human emotions better than many other writers and I know of no one who can capture the emotions of loss and longing better in a novel.
It was an honour and a real pleasure to join the party to celebrate John Connolly and Charlie Parker – both an author and a character who in their own ways give so much to the reader.
Highly recommended to fans old and new.
And, thanks to Hodder, I have a copy of the excellent, small and perfectly formed flipbackbook edition of BAD MEN to give away to one lucky person – just leave a comment here and I’ll pick a name out of the hat in about a week.