Review: A Song of Shadows by John Connolly

asongofshadowsAbout A Song of Shadows

Still recovering from his life-threatening wounds, private detective Charlie Parker investigates a case that has its origins in a Nazi concentration camp during the Second World War.

Parker has retreated to the small Maine town of Boreas to regain his strength. There he befriends a widow named Ruth Winter and her young daughter, Amanda. But Ruth has her secrets. Old atrocities are about to be unearthed, and old sinners will kill to hide their sins. Now Parker is about to risk his life to defend a woman he barely knows, one who fears him almost as much as she fears those who are coming for her.

His enemies believe him to be vulnerable. Fearful. Solitary.

But they are wrong. Parker is far from afraid, and far from alone.

For something is emerging from the shadows . . .

About the Author

John Connolly is the author of The Wrath of AngelsThe Burning SoulThe Book of Lost Things, and Bad Men, among many others. He is a regular contributor to The Irish Times and lives in Dublin, Ireland. For more information, see his website at, or follow him on Twitter @JConnollyBooks.

My Thoughts

[This review is based on an advanced copy received from the publisher through NetGalley.]

I can only imagine how difficult it must be to keep a long-running series feeling so fresh and vibrant, but after thirteen books John Connolly is still, somehow, plugging along and not only providing a satisfying series read, but continuing to grow and improve. Readers, like me, who have been following Connolly from the very beginning and have invested now more than a decade in the cast of characters circulating through these Parker novels will find another winning entry into the canon for sure, but also a damn good read that continues to plumb a lot of this honeycomb world's depths.

After so many novels, it should be readily apparent that Connolly knows his characters inside and out, and although he manages to introduce a few nasty surprises and shocking violence, it's this apparent comfort that makes each new entry warm and inviting akin to the finest and heady soul food. Readers, too, know these characters and their idiosyncrasies very well by now and will likely find several reasons to laugh out loud as the dashes of humor surrounding the nature of Louis, Angel, and Parker and how the surrounding world views each man, along with a sequence of events surrounding the Fulci brothers that had me snickering for pages on end.

I absolutely relish these annual releases, and have been anticipating A Song of Shadows since finishing A Wolf In Winter last year, which left our title character, Charlie Parker, in some seriously dire straights after surviving an attack. The Charlie Parker we see here is very much the private investigator readers have come to know and love, but he is a changed man. After the grueling ordeal that befell him in the prior novel, how could he not be? Here, he's the walking wounded, slowly making strides toward recovery. His mind his sharp, but his body is not - he's slower, his reflexes dull, his muscles weak to the point that he can barely grip well enough to give a good handshake, let alone use a gun. Even injured, Parker is still a formidable adversary with loyal friends who are no stranger to killing and exacting revenge on behalf of the investigator. And, of course, his history carries enough weight that even while hurt so badly his presence in Boreas prompts one local cop to think that "It was like having a grenade rolling around, one you had been assured was defused but hadn’t had time to check out for yourself." While he may be at his lowest point physically, he's also more driven than he's been in quite some time, imbued with a purpose that rises far above the latest mystery. Parker has always been a bit of an avenging angel figure, even when serving as a pawn of the nebulous shadow groups that often manipulate the world around him, but here he's finally learning to truly own his position and status in this stratum.

Parker's recovery and the shifting balance among his friends, Louis and Angel, provide much of the emotional spine for a story that otherwise revolves around Nazi atrocities and the mysterious, interlinked killings in the present-day that appear connected to the deportation of recently discovered ex-Nazi officers living under assumed identities in Maine. The scenario is certainly compelling enough on its own, but by plugging the story into the ever-developing mythology of the Parker novels, Connolly raises the stakes a notch or two, coupling it with the changing nature of evil and splashes of paranormal activity that have long since given this series its edge.

If you've been following Connolly's career and are a Parker devotee, than reading A Song of Shadows is a no brainer. If you haven't gotten invested in these works yet, then you absolutely must start with Every Dead Thing and work your way forward, as this is a series that demands being read in order. Meanwhile, I'm off to pine away another year waiting for book 14.

Buy A Song of Shadows At Amazon

Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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