Following the events of the previous novel, The Woman in the Woods, Detective Charlie Parker alongside his friends Louis and Angel travel to Europe to track down a pair of killers and stop them before they can complete and use a book that could bring about the end of the world as we know it – The Fractured Atlas.
A Book of Bones is meant to be the finale to an arc that began with the twelfth novel in the series, The Wolf in Winter. In The Wolf in Winter, Parker comes into contact with The Familiasts, a religious group that fled England centuries ago by traveling to America and founding Prosperous, a village in rural Maine. In the four books that would follow, Parker would nearly lose his life in an attempt to bring down a vast network of those who seek to procure a book that could bring about hell on Earth.
This book sees Parker and company travel the globe as they hunt Quayle and Mors, the aforementioned devious duo, that sees our protagonist hit Arizona, Texas, Amsterdam and England. This is a pretty big change for the series which mostly kept our heroes inside the United States – most notably Maine. In an interview to promote the book, Connolly said by placing the action in Europe, he was able to explore a much deeper and far richer history than he would be able to do in the US.
Therefore, due to an emphasis placed on exploring religious folklore, A Book of Bones is one large book, coming in at a hefty 720 pages. Not only are we following Parker, Louis and Angel, we periodically check in with a handful of English cops investigating the murder of a young woman linked to those looking to finally complete the Atlas as well as a couple of cold-hearted killers contracted by Quayle to leave bodies lying. Connolly also takes ample time to explore Quayle’s very long and very detailed history throughout his century-long quest to get his hands on the completed Atlas. So, as you can see, the plot is both intricate as well as sprawling in its nature.
The consequence of presenting the story in this manner is that we spend a limited amount of time with Parker. As much as I enjoyed the new characters introduced into the “Parker-verse”, I was craving more of Charlie’s brash behaviour and witty remarks. That being said, Parker, Louis and Angel are beginning to show signs of age. All three men have ventured into their fifties and having a difficult time with their evolving limitations. While I’m not advocating that they all be shipped off to retirement homes – fifty isn’t exactly old (it’s the new forty, right?) – but for those in their line of work, they’re certainly no spring chickens. While Parker is just as determined and stubborn as ever, he has two decades of wear and tear that is finally beginning to catch up with him, same goes for Louis, who suffered significant damage in The Woman in the Woods that a younger version of himself would have never permitted. As for Angel, he’s battling cancer, so he’s not exactly on the top of his game either. It’s a stark reminder that Connolly made the decision to have them age in real-time. Probably best to have them share some of the pages with others.
Following the book’s conclusion, Connolly pens a brief afterword looking back at Every Dead Thing, the first novel in the Charlie Parker series. I thought it was entertaining and enjoyed hearing a bit of the history surrounding his struggle to get the novel published as well as his writing process.
A Book of Bones finishes up present-day Charlie Parker for now as we’ll see Connolly travel back to a period shortly after the first novel but prior to Dark Hollow (the second novel) for a new story next year. Connolly said there will be no supernatural elements in this one, so I’m intrigued to see Parker go back to his roots.
A strong entry into the Parker saga – now seventeen novels deep – A Book of Bones helps to further solidify Connolly as a writer at the top of his game producing one of the best long-running series around.