The Burning Soul
A Charlie Parker Mystery by John Connolly
Review: Charlie Parker is hired by an attorney to find who is sending threatening messages to a man, convicted of killing a classmate when he was a youth himself and now living under a new court-ordered identity, in The Burning Soul, the eleventh mystery in this series by John Connolly.
As a teen, William Lagenheimer — now known as Randall Haight — and his friend Lonny Midas killed a young girl after abducting her and attempting to rape her. He readily confessed to his role, and the two youths were sentenced, separately, to terms in a succession of correctional facilities. Since his release, Randall has had no contact with his former friend — indeed, he doesn't even know his new identity — nor does he want any. Now living in a small town in Maine and making a living as an accountant, someone has been sending messages to him, someone who apparently knows his criminal history. But that's not the worst of it. A local girl, Anna Kore, has gone missing … and Randall fears that the police may think him guilty of taking her.
Randall hires a lawyer, who hires Charlie Parker. After interviewing him, Charlie has a frank conversation with Randall:
"You should consider that you're neither being blackmailed nor tormented simply over a past crime."
"It could be that you're being set up for the disappearance of Anna Kore."
Separate from the Randall Haight investigation — which is tautly constructed and would seem sufficient in and of itself as the basis for a crime novel — is an extended storyline that starts in Boston involving a group of men, one of whom is the uncle to the missing girl. The men are various members of various mobs and quite a bit of narrative space is given over to their history, relationships and activities. That one or more of them will head towards Maine, and that one or more of them may be involved with Anna Kore's disappearance, is more or less a given. It seems that the author, or his editor, thought this storyline compelling enough to demand a significant percentage of the book's pages. It doesn't. As a consequence, what could have been a really suspenseful investigation in Maine gets periodically sidetracked by relatively routine goings-on in Boston.
The books in this series typically have a paranormal element to them, and to be sure one is present here, but it is well positioned, tending to be more in the background than anything else, augmenting — adding psychological suspense to — the story rather than becoming the story.
Though over-written in places, The Burning Soul has a strong plot and is a solid entry in this series.
Acknowledgment: Simon & Schuster provided a copy of The Burning Soul for this review.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Atria Books (Hardcover), July 2010
ISBN-13: 9781439165195; ISBN-10: 143916519X
Location(s) referenced in The Burning Soul: Boston, Massachusetts; Maine
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The Burning Soul by John Connolly — A Charlie Parker Mystery
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: September 2011
List Price: $26.00
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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