I’m not big on mystery/detective fiction, mainly because I’m not a super fast reader. My busy schedule means longer books can take me 2-4 weeks to read, and trying to retain names, clues, and multiple plotlines isn’t easy. In most detective stories, everyone is a suspect, so every name and every action gains heightened importance.
Connolly’s book is a sprawling tale that takes place in New York and New Orleans (mostly) but it’s structured in such a way that it almost feels like three books collected in one volume. Detective Charlie “Bird” Parker’s family was brutally murdered on a night when he was out boozing. His wife and daughter were flayed alive, their corpses left in ghoulish poses in his kitchen, faces removed.
Years later, Parker is a freelance detective hired to track a missing girl. Searching for her also begins to uncover clues to the killer who evaded him so long ago, taking him south to New Orleans. Everywhere he goes, he brings trouble, as each step closer to the missing girl brings him deeper into trouble with local crime families, local police, the FBI, and ultimately, his family’s killer. The book takes a few unexpected twists, about halfway through the person I thought would be revealed as the killer is taken out of the story. It’s difficult to discuss specific plot points without revealing too much information, but the book definitely kept me guessing until the end.
There are some cliche elements as well, structured a bit like bad ’80s action movies, but it added to the grit of it all. For a 500 page book, it’s fast paced, fun, and fairly easy to follow, even for a mystery novice like me.