Although Connolly hails from Ireland, his uncannily accurate depictions of the U.S. and its people resonate with truth. His latest continues the saga of private detective Charlie Parker, who lives in Maine with his pregnant girlfriend, Rachel. Parker is still beset by memories of his murdered wife and child and haunted by the psychopathic Reverend Aaron Faulkner, who is in prison pending his trial.

When attorney and former D.A. Elliot Norton calls from South Carolina to ask for Parker's help, he really wants to refuse his friend, whom he knows from his days as a Brooklyn detective. But Parker gives in when Norton says he wants him to investigate the alleged rape and murder of wealthy white girl, Marianne Larousse, by her black boyfriend, Atys Jones, Norton's client.

Charleston and its haunting history come alive as Parker learns of the centuries-old connection between the Joneses and the Larousses, who once owned the former family's slave ancestors. Tension builds, along with the number of murders, strange events and disappearances in the Congaree swampland of South Carolina. Keep all the lights on, as Parker becomes the hunted, and his stomping ground in Maine proves to be as dangerous as the mysterious swamplands by the time this tale reaches its stunning conclusion. (Mar., 400 pp., $25.00)

Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick