The Burning Soul

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The Burning Soul, John Connolly, book reviewThe Burning Soul is the tenth full-length novel from John Connolly to feature Charlie Parker as the central character. The books could best be characterised as thrillers with supernatural overtones. Towards the beginning of the series (which started with Every Dead Thing), the novels were characterised by extreme and graphic violence, but, as the series has evolved, Connolly has more and more relied on fine descriptive prose to build tension and a sense of menace which only occasionally explodes.

Like several other books in this series, The Burning Soul is set in the far north of the United States. A young girl has disappeared from the town of Pastor’s Bay, a remote community in a far-flung and isolated part of Maine. Randall Haight is worried, because as a young boy he was involved in the rape and murder of a child of the same age and subsequently served a long jail sentence. Now someone seems to have found out about his past at the same time as another girl has disappeared. Charlie Parker is called in to find out who is attempting to blackmail Haight, and becomes involved in a complex story which drags in Irish Gangsters from Boston, the FBI and his old friends Angel and Louis.

The Burning Soul is a book which is full of atmosphere. There is a strong plot which keeps the reader’s attention until the end, and more than a few unanticipated twists and turns along the way. However, it is Connolly’s prose which really makes this book work. It would have been easy for him to continue to rely on the extreme violence which characterised his early novels, but having established the events of these stories as the background he has moved on to a point where his books remain just as troubling through subtle hints and glimpses of supernatural evil rather than direct confrontation. It helps that his minor characters are so interesting, and that we are able to see many of them age and change as the books mature. This is a series that shows no signs of tiring or running out of steam. A reader could start with The Burning Soul, but I suspect that most will want to start from the beginning of the series and this would certainly be time well spent.


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Burning Soul, The
by John Connolly

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Written by Ian
Ian

Ian is a medical academic with a long standing interest in books, particularly literary and crime fiction, as both a reader and a collector. He has published extensively in the scientific literature, mainly on nutrition. He has two grown-up children and lives in Ireland.

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