Hodder, out 9 April
Even when recovering from near-fatal wounds, Charlie Parker can’t help himself from getting involved in a mysterious death…
Even more than the previous Parker novel, The Wolf in Winter, A Song of Shadows marks an ideal starting point for newcomers to the series, as many of the underlying elements of the earlier novels start to take centre stage with some clear explanations of how they fit into the ongoing saga. Both of Parker’s daughters have key parts to play – the dead one whose intervention has helped save him on more than one occasion, and the living one who very much shares some of his gifts – as do the previously shadowy forces who have helped to ensure that Parker hasn’t necessarily had to deal with all the repercussions of his actions.
It’s a time of transition for Parker: his body has been shattered by recent events, and he has to recuperate and find a new place in the world. That comes through the actions of a group of former Nazis who are desperate to maintain their hiding-place, and will do anything – including killing their own – to do so. Connolly charts how they have been able to insert themselves easily into American society (and it’s clear from his end notes that the bits you probably don’t want to believe are the bits that aren’t fictional).
Hypocrisy is a central theme in the novel: Connolly doesn’t hesitate to castigate the Americans over their treatment of those they thought could help them, the Nazis’ own hypocrisy over elements of their Final Solution, and, above all, that displayed by those who use the former Nazis for their own purposes. On more than one occasion, you’ll find yourself reassessing the characters you’re reading about, and not putting them in a more favourable light.
As ever, Connolly creates an unsettling atmosphere with a few well-chosen words, and the final chapters set up some potentially highly volatile encounters in the books to come. I can’t wait.
Verdict: Connolly delves into the darkness once more to provide one of his best Charlie Parker stories. 9/10