Although this is the nineteenth novel involving the enigmatic private investigator, Charlie Parker, he will only make a cameo appearance. His associates and friends, Louis and Angel take center stage as they seek vengeance for well-respected friend and associate De Jaager, who is brutally tortured and murdered in his Amsterdam “safe house,” along with his nephew and two women which he holds dear.
Louis will relentlessly track the five Serbian criminals responsible for this heinous act across Europe to exact retribution. All five of the demons have learned their butchering skills during the Balkan conflict, and are legitimate war criminals. Connolly effortlessly weaves a history lesson into the fabric of the narrative. After Tito’s death in 1980 the loosely held thread of a republic known as Yugoslavia, came unwound. The conflict between 1991 and 1999 was a virtual exhibition of genocide and ethnic cleansing, leading to untold atrocities and the eventual formation of six republics formed along ethnic and nationalist lines.
De Jaager, was a fixer, and only occasionally a hunter, and rarely a killer. Although a criminal, he always acted with honor and respected the creed of honor among thieves. He was approaching retirement and was shedding his business interests, with the aim of retiring to a small cottage to live out his life in solitude and anonymity. This was not to be. Ultimately he found a living hell waiting for him at his “safe house.” Upon entering he found his nephew slumped over in a chair with parts of his skull and brain on the wall behind. By the Serbian criminals hands, he is made to watch the torture, rape, and butchering of his sister-in-law and Liesl, followed by his crucifixion with multiple well-placed nails. The fulcrum of this unholy group are the Vuksan brothers, Radovan and Spiridon. Their crime enterprise covers, narcotics, prostitution, trafficking, larceny and frequently murder. Ironically the duo are contemplating retirement, but Spirodon recklessly satisfies his need for vengeance by this heinous act.John Connolly weaves a roller-coaster ride filled with complex and twisted motives leading to a relentless escalating tension that culminates in an explosive denouement with his signature violence and brutality . As always, his evocative prose is accompanied with lushly fleshed-out characterization. The narrative is presented in a linear fashion which aids the reader in following the complexities of the interwoven history and motives of the multiple characters. The supernatural element of Zorya and Parker’s dead daughter, Jennifer, complements the story rather than providing a distraction. This can be enjoyed as a standalone , as Connolly seamlessly weaves any necessary backstory into the narrative. However, most readers will now want to devour the other Charley Parker novels.
Thanks to NetGalley and Atria/ Emily Bestler Books for supplying an Uncorrected Proof in exchange for an honest review.