Sunday, 9 October 2011

The Burning Soul.

The Burning Soul is the tenth book in the consistently brilliant Charlie Parker series by John Connolly.  It's another convoluted, multi-layered thriller by one of the best writers around at the moment. I've been reading this series since the first novel Every Dead Thing and am in complete admiration at how the quality is not only maintained but seems to improve with every new book.
What I've always liked about the books is the combination of the standard PI thriller with supernatural elements. Those supernatural elements came to the fore in my favourite book in the series The Lovers in which Parker's true nature was revealed.  The next book, The Whisperers somewhat surprisingly drew back from this (although the plot involved a decidedly supernatural object) and The Burning Soul is the same, making me wonder whether John Connolly is worried about becoming too "genre."
That's not to say there isn't a supernatural element to The Burning Soul, it may be half way through the book before it happens but it's definitely worth the wait.
The plot - as in all the other books - twists and turns and there are plenty of surprises along the way. The storyline is convoluted but never confusing.  The dialogue fizzes as normal and Parker's first person narration throws up the usual crop of pithy one-liners. Of one character Parker remarks "Now here was Walsh, looking like a man who has just been roused from a deep sleep in order to rescue an unloved cat from a tree..." Brilliant.
As well as having a great plot, beautifully drawn (and entirely believable) characters - regulars will be pleased to see Angel and Louis making an appearance - the writing itself is of an incredibly high standard. I think this book has the best opening chapter I've ever read. It's clever writing too, at one point I congratulated myself on spotting a mistake, a kind of continuity error - only to discover later in the book that it wasn't a mistake at all and was actually an important plot development. (At which point I congratulated myself again for noting it in the first place).
To recommend The Burning Soul is an entirely academic thing to do given that - like it's predecessors - it's  a firmly established fixture in the best seller lists but, if there is someone out there who hasn't discovered the series yet then I firmly urge them to do so.  Don't start here though, begin with the first book and you'll get enormous pleasure from watching the characters change and develop.


  1. Im thinking of reading, The White Road, does it work as a stand alone novel, or is it a part of a series?

  2. The White Road is the fourth book in the Charlie Parker series. Like all the others it does work as a stand alone novel in that there's a complete storyline that has resolution but if you can, I really would recommend starting with the first book and reading them in order just to provide a bit of context and understanding of the "Honeycomb World" that Connolly has created.

  3. By the way, hello again alcoholya/Shaun/Scuddy/Machete - it's been a while...