Steve Cavanagh’s Xmas Recommendation: A Song of Shadows

The Christmas suggestions keep on coming! Today, The Cross author Steve Cavanagh puts forth his case for the latest novel in the Charlie Parker series, A Song of Shadows.

I’ve read some great books this year and I’m going to recommend the single title that I enjoyed most over the last twelve months. It wasn’t an easy choice. There have been some cracking releases in a particularly strong year. In his follow up to The Killing Season, Mason Cross delivered a brilliant serial killer novel  The Samaritan. Eva Dolan continues to produce compelling, intelligent, thought-provoking crime fiction in Tell No Tales. Stuart Neville’s Those We Left Behind haunted me long after I’d finished it and Luca Veste’s Bloodstream is a wonderful addition the Murphy and Rossi series.

So what was my favourite book this year? A Song of Shadows by John Connolly. I’m a self-confessed Connolly fan. After you read this book, you will be too. This is the thirteenth novel in the Charlie Parker series and that is one of the reasons why I chose it. Dennis Lehane was once asked why he doesn’t write a long-running series and he said something along the lines of, “It’s rare that you hear a reader say the 15th book was my favourite.” Writing a long series, keeping it fresh, keeping it interesting, and maintaining the quality is no mean feat. Very few authors maintain a consistently high level of excellence. Michael Connelly is one. John Connolly is another.

In A Song of Shadows, PI Charlie Parker is recovering from injury in a sleepy, seaside town in Maine. His daughter has come to stay with him, and his friends in the shape of burglar Angel, and hitman Louis are never far away. They’ll need to be watchful, because an evil secret long since buried is about to emerge, and those who seek to protect it are coming for Parker.

Not only is the book a fantastic addition to the series, it changes the nature of the Charlie Parker story significantly. It’s a gear change. A big one.

When I finished this book I put it down and felt hungry not just for the next novel, but hungry for the next dozen Parker novels. And everything you might expect from John Connolly is here in abundance – lyrical prose, perfect plot twists, chillingly dark villains and all the wit and lightness of touch needed to bring those elements together.

If you are new to the series you can pick this up with no trouble as each book works as a standalone perfectly well. It was the novel that I enjoyed most in the last year, and I hope that you’ll love it as much as I did.


Steve Cavanagh was born and raised in Belfast before leaving for Dublin at the age of eighteen to study law. He currently practises civil rights law, and in 2010 he represented a factory worker who suffered racial abuse in the workplace, and won the largest award of damages for race discrimination in Northern Ireland’s legal history. His first novel, The Defence, was published by Orion in March 2015 and his latest work, ebook short The Cross, is out now. Find out more on Steve’s website and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.