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Precious Metal

John Connolly

A Song of Shadows

John Connolly A Song Of Shadows A Charlie Parker Thriller
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Series:

Charlie Parker

Excerpt from book:

A Song of Shadows

CHAPTER

I


Winter dead, spring dying, and summer waiting in the wings.

Slowly, the town of Boreas was changing: seasonal rentals were being opened and cleaned, the ice-cream parlor was ordering supplies, and the stores and restaurants were gearing up for the advent of the tourists. Just six months earlier, their proprietors had been counting the takings to figure out how close they’d have to cut their cloth to survive. Each year seemed to leave them with a little less in their pockets, and brought the same debate at the end of the season: do we go on or do we sell up? Now those who remained standing were returning to the fray, but even the cautious optimism of previous years was not yet palpable, and there were those who whispered that it was gone forever. The economy might be improving, but Boreas was mired in steady decline: a slow, labored mortality, half-life upon half-life. This was a dying town, a failing ecosystem, but still so many stayed, for where else was there to go?

Out on Burgess Road, the Sailmaker Inn remained closed, the first time in over seventy years that the grand old dame of Boreas hotels would not be opening its doors to welcome the summer visitors. The decision to put the Sailmaker on the market had been made only the previous week. The owners—the third generation of the Tabor family to operate the inn—had returned from their Carolina winter refuge to prepare the Sailmaker for guests, and some of their seasonal staff were already occupying the residences at the back of the property. The lawn was being mowed, the dust covers taken off the furniture, and then, just like that, the Tabors had looked at their business, decided that they couldn’t take the strain any longer, and announced they wouldn’t be reopening after all. Frank Tabor, a good Catholic, said that making the decision had been akin to going to confession and unburdening himself of his sins. He could now go in peace, and not fret anymore.

The decision to close the Sailmaker sounded another death knell for the town, a further concrete symbol of its dwindling. The tourists had grown fewer and fewer over the years—and older and older, because there was little here to amuse the young—and more summer homes were being put up for sale, their prices pegged optimistically high at first before time and necessity slowly whittled them down to a more realistic level. Even then Bobby Soames, the local Realtor, could name off the top of his head five houses that had been on the market for two years or more. By now their owners had largely given up on them, and they functioned neither as summer retreats nor actual residences. They were kept alive by a slow trickle of heat in winter, and in summer by the flitting and scuttling of bugs.

The town was founded by a family of Greeks back at the start of the nineteenth century, although they were long gone by the beginning of the twentieth. Indeed, nobody was entirely sure how they had ended up in this part of Maine to begin with—and the only remaining clue to its origins lay in its name: Boreas, a northern outpost named after the Greek god of winter and the north wind. Was it any wonder, Soames sometimes thought, that its survival as a vacation destination had always been tenuous? They should have just named it Arctic South and had done with it.

Soames was driving slowly through Boreas on this fine April morning. Everyone drove slowly through Boreas. Its thoroughfares were narrow: even Bay Street, the main drag, was a bitch to negotiate if cars were parked on both curbs, and anyone who’d been in town longer than a wet afternoo "John Connolly should be a household name, a writer who blends deft plotting, thoughtful characterization and wry humor with gorgeous prose. His thrillers are something beyond the norm, a fusion of noir and horror that works seamlessly because of his remarkable talent. A brilliant novelist."


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