Search This Blog

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Song of Shadows. John Connolly. Hodder & Stoughton (2015)

A very engaging thriller that has a nicely set up supernatural element that never upsets the balance of the story.Charlie Parker has retreated to a small seaside town called Boreas in Maine to recover and recuperate from a near fatal attack. His nearest neighbor is a single mother, Ruth Winter, with a daughter who is the same age as his own. When a murdered man washes up on the beach near Parker's house and Parker becomes involved in the investigation, it becomes clear that Ruth Winter has something she wishes to hide. The story unfurls nicely as old sins and sinners respond to threats with violence and the weight of the past bears very heavily on the present.
AS with any book that is part of a series this has two stories running through it. The smaller story is the continuity story that involves the series cast including Charlie Parker. The bigger story is the one about what is happening in Boreas and why. The continuity story rests lightly enough on the main story that it does not interfere with the enjoyment of the main story in its own right. John Connolly has  interesting plot mechanics that drive the story, the pleasure and engagement of the book lie in the cast and the writing.
The story moves at a leisurely pace, there are very effective and gripping outbursts of action, the greater part of the story is given over to developing the extensive cast and location. What is noticeable and very enjoyable is that it is the non-series cast that get the time and attention. The town of Boreas emerges strongly because of the detail lavished on some of the cast whom Charlie Parker meets. John Connolly takes the time to introduce them and give them sufficient background and context to become fully developed. This depth of detail becomes important as the plot mechanics start to reveal what is waiting in the shadows.
The solidity of the regular humans in the cast give weight and room to the more extreme characters who start to appear, they gain significant credibility because they are anchored so firmly in an ordinary context. The supernatural elements slide in easily without upsetting the balance of the story because the context has such weight and presence.
The continuity story is equally well done, Charlie Parker has been wounded nearly fatally and cannot just shrug off the impact. Across the arc of the action Charlie Parker recovers and returns to his essential mission with a darker edge than he had before.
John Connolly has delivered a story that has multiple threads without ever getting tangled up in any, a story about small town secrets and lives, a nasty view of the long reach of history and revenge, an episode in a longer story of supernatural trouble all of them rest easily with each other and each has substantial pleasures of their own. Combined they provide a very satisfying reading experience.

No comments:

Post a Comment