- A Book of Bones (A Charlie Parker Thriller: 17).
- John Connolly.
- 720 pages.
- Thriller / Supernatural Thriller / Crime / Mystery / Fiction.
- My Rating: Hell yeah Book Review.
He is our best hope.
He is our last hope.
On a lonely moor in the northeast of England, the body of a young woman is discovered near the site of a vanished church. In the south, a girl lies buried beneath a Saxon mound. To the southeast, the ruins of a priory hide a human skull.
Each is a sacrifice, a summons.
And something in the shadows has heard the call.
But another is coming: Parker the hunter, the avenger. Parker’s mission takes him from Maine to the deserts of the Mexican border; from the canals of Amsterdam to the streets of London – he will track those who would cast this world into darkness.
Parker fears no evil.
But evil fears him . . .
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
There is something enchanting about A Book of Bones, it is dark, full of depth, at times downright creepy, totally gripping and ticks all of the boxes for a must-read.
I was very late to the Charlie Parker series only starting with the previous book, The Women in the Woods but I immediately knew that it was a series that I had to continue with. A Book of Bones continues the story started in The Women in the Woods, the search for the book known as the Fractured Atlas. Likewise, the duo who are searching for the Atlas, the quietly sinister and shadowy English lawyer Quayle and his sidekick the palid-skinned and rancid smelling demon incarnate Pallida Mors also return.
I would highly suggest picking up The Women in the Woods before reading A Book of Bones. Firstly, it is a tremendous book and secondly, it will give you additional background, some meat to the bones and that little bit of colour that just makes the picture more complete on the search for the Fractured Atlas and on Quayle and Mors. It is, perhaps, slightly hypocritical of me telling you to read the previous book when I, myself jumped head first into the series so late but A Book of Bones is, in essence, the culmination of, the sequel to The Women in the Woods and while Connolly does give you enough recap and backstory to read and thoroughly enjoy A Book of Bones on its own merits. For me, personally, I was glad that I had already read The Women in the Woods.
A Book of Bones starts with the body of a woman being found in a junkyard in Arizona. Parker is called on by FBI agent Ross to help identify the remains of the woman. The junkyard owner has ties to Mexico and the investigation into the body takes Parker to the Mexican border in search of answers.
Quayle and Mors are back in London and after many years their search for the Fractured Atlas is nearing its apex, its culmination, its zenith and the dread book will soon be complete. The Fractured Atlas is nearing completion, nearing being whole again and the search for the missing pages has left many dead bodies in its wake over many years. It is an otherworldly book of immense eldritch power, a book that radiates out darkness, a corruption that poisons, that taints those in its vicinity and those unlucky souls who come into contact with it. It is a book that corrupts the world, that tarnishes it, a book that will alter reality, bring about change, death, destruction and the end of our known world.
In England, bodies of young women are being found on corrupted land, on land that once stood churches but not churches to the Christian god but another, older gods from before, gods to which the Familists prayed, worshipped and revered.
The first body is found in Northumberland, Northumbria on the Hexamshire Moors and then more bodies, more sacrificial killings all bearing similar aspects are discovered at other locations and sites of religious significance throughout the UK, sites where the barriers between dimensions, between worlds are thinner, are weaker, old places and an old power that is waiting to be awoken. Buildings and the ground remember, memories are buried, in soil, in the dirt, in stone, in bricks, in the mortar, always there, waiting, lurking, lingering. History repeats itself, blood leaves a stain, an indelible mark that abides through time, that endures and that persists over centuries. A subsequent investigation is started by the English police into the killings.
Parker has some loose ends to tie-up in the US and then he, along with Louis and Angel travel to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in search of information pertaining to the location of Quayle and Mors. Then, with the information that they manage to glean, they travel onto London, England. Parker goes on ahead to London, leaving the duo behind in Amsterdam to continue their own investigation before they rejoin him a few days later.
Parker is full of a dogged determination, resilience and relentlessness in his pursuit of the duo, hunting Quayle and Mors across countries and continents. He is a fantastic resilient character, a character that is filled between the lines and a character that has had plenty of time to be developed by Connolly. He’s been through so much and yet he still keeps on going, damaged, scarred, weathered, tattered and torn. As are Angel and Louis, the duo of hitmen who are friends with Parker. who help him and who stand alongside him against the forces of darkness and encroaching evil. The trio are like brothers bonded not by blood but by the blood that they have shed and the experiences that they have shared. All three are ageing, father time is catching up with them all making them more vulnerable than they once were. Angel is still recovering from stomach cancer and Louis is still recovering from the wounds that he sustained in the climax to The Women in the Woods.
In A Book of Bones, we get to see deep into Quayle’s past, deep into his story. Quayle is sinister in an understated way, there is a creepy factor to him and he is evil but it is Mors where the blackness is pitch and where even shadows are scared to dwell. There are inherent evilness and decay to Mors, a fetid and festering stink of corruption that emanates from her tainted soul, that radiates from off the pages.
Connolly is the puppet master as he pulls the strings and leads his cast of characters on the macabre merry-go-round that is his masterfully crafted and totally absorbing opus A Book of Bones. At times, the supernatural is understated, at others, it is brought to the forefront of the story. Regardless, it always feels right, fits with the story that is being told and never seems out of place. It blends together with the natural, feels organic, two sides of a coin, different but together forming a whole.
To go along with Parker, Louis, Angel, Quayle and Mors there is a vast cast of ensemble characters (Priestman, in charge of the English police force with Hynes, Gackowska and Uddin, Hood, a sheep farmer on the Moors, the killers, Bob Johnston, an American book dealer and The Backers make a fleeting appearance too, an immensely powerful group with endlessly deep pockets and vast amounts of money) featured in A Book of Bones and Connolly does a stellar job of bringing them all to life and giving them each their own distinctive voice and personality. Some only have minor roles, very minor whilst others are major players but all are given a degree of characterisation and all even if it is only in a small role have a part to play. In lesser hands, it could all get muddled, not with Connolly who has a deft hand and a way of keeping everything moving forward and very clear to the reader. Even with a lot going on and the various characters, Connolly is a proficient storyteller and it is never confusing.
There is a wealth of detail on display in A Book of Bones, it is a tapestry, a mosaic, like the stained glass window adjourning the cover, everything has a place no matter how small and no matter if it seems disparate from the main story. The added occasional history, historical events and accounts and stories told within the main story. It is all used to stitch the fabric of the overall story together.
Connolly’s writing is very addictive, with a descriptive flair, little turns of phrase that are profound and meaningful and with the occasional inclusion of dark humour, especially with Parker, Angel and Louis, the comments, bite backs, witty retorts and snark that is shared between them. The characters from the English police force that appear in A Book of Bones also partake on the dark humour, banter and retorts too. Hynes, in particular, is very adept with his remarks and comes out with some great comments. The humour is a nice touch, a little bit of light in the darkness of the story.
Connolly is able to evoke both a sense of atmosphere and a sense of place for the settings where the story takes place. He uses words that I haven’t come across before in his writing showing depth to his craft that bleeds over into his characters and his story too, there is a depth to every component that helps to form A Book of Bones and it is a truly remarkable book.
The story has many twists and turns and goes down some dark and stormy roads, it is never overly visceral, leaning towards the more cerebral but there are some gruesome scenes depicted throughout. There is a darkness to the story, one that runs throughout the pages, an ominous feeling throughout, malevolent forces, harbingers, portents of things to come, forces beyond our comprehension, an evil lurking, sleeping, biding its time, voices whispering of what once was and of what will be again.
It is a complex canvas and a clever story, a multi-layered story that meanders, that takes its time in getting to the ending, getting where it needs to and you enjoy every moment of it, savouring each new chapter, each of the characters, each location, each new development and all that comes with it. It is a story that builds, a story that can be traced back with the roots, the foundations laid well in the past both, in the actual story and in the series. I know, I know, as I have mentioned I have only read the previous book, The Women in the Woods but it is a gut feeling that I had whilst reading A Book of Bones that it is the book that the Charlie Parker series, itself has been building towards for a long time and honestly, it is a fitting finale to close of the tale of Quayle, Mors and the Fractured Atlas…but, you never know, the Fractured Atlas might reappear in the future (only Connolly knows) as books are funny things, strange by their nature and even when they are lost, they survive, their heart and the stories that they tell, that want to escape the pages live on.
A Book of Bones has a rather middling pace to it, it is never overly slow nor is it a fast-paced read. It is a potent kind of pacing, a powerful type that keeps you rapt, that keeps you interested, that draws you in, that immerses you and that keeps your eyes glued to the pages as the rich story unfolds before you. Along with the short and snappy chapters that alternate between character, it is the type of pacing where it feels just right for the story being told, perfect.
For large portions of the book Parker and by association Louis and Angel are absent and instead, the impetus is placed on the other characters and the developing story itself as the main driving force. Some might take umbrage at the lack of Parker in a Charlie Parker book, I didn’t. Due to this, A Book of Bones, can, at times feel like two books in one. One, the police investigation in the UK and two, Parker, Louis and Angel and their search for Quayle, Mors and the Fractured Atlas. The two stories, which do finally come together, gel well, compliment each other, feel symbiotic, coexist and serve to give the full picture.
A Book of Bones is a book to be consumed, to lose yourself in, to immerse yourself with and a book that I could have read forever. There is something mesmerising about both the story and the way that Connolly writes and even at 700 pages, it wasn’t long enough for me, it was over far too soon and I wish that it hadn’t ended.
Purchase A Book of Bones (A Charlie Parker Thriller: 17) by John Connolly.
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