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"A beautifully measured novel that is equal parts gripping mystery and an unsentimental meditation on grief.”

Irish Times

"A hell of a tale: dark, haunting, and beautifully told . . . For fans of the Parker series, this book is required reading."


"Intelligent and subtle . . . Connolly is writing at the top of his game"

Publishers Weekly

The Dirty South

Parker investigates brutal murders in an Arkansas town, in a story set before the main events of EVERY DEAD THING.

 The Dirty South


It is 1997, and someone is slaughtering young women in Burdon County, Arkansas.

But no one in the Dirty South wants to admit it.
In an Arkansas jail cell sits a former NYPD detective, stricken by grief. He is mourning the death of his wife and child, and searching in vain for their killer. Obsessed with avenging his lost family, his life is about to take a shocking turn.

Witness the dawning of a conscience.

Witness the birth of a hunter.
Witness the becoming of Charlie Parker.

  • Chapter I

    The tide rolled in, erasing the first of the footprints in the sand, like the memory of a presence gradually being excised from the history of the beach. The marks were small, as of those left by a child, except no child had walked there, or none that Parker had noticed; yet when he looked up from his book, the evidence was before him. Bare feet: he could discern the marks of the toes, and the rounded indentations of the soles and heels. The footprints ended within a few yards of the tree against which he sat, as though the visitor had regarded Parker for a time before moving on.

    But the prints progressed only in one direction, and seemed to ascend from the sea: an emergent ghost, arrived unnoticed, come to bear witness in silence.

    Parker removed his glasses, cursing—not for the first time—the necessity of them. His optometrist had suggested progressive lenses, which struck Parker as just a fancier name for bifocals. It was an error she was unlikely to make again, Parker regarding progressives as a short step from adopting a pince-nez, or wearing spectacles on a gold chain while smelling of cheap sherry. Now, non-progressive lenses in hand, he looked left and right, but it was an instinctive response and nothing more, because he did not really expect to glimpse her: this lost daughter, this revenant being.


    He spoke her name aloud, and let the wind carry it to her. He wondered what had drawn her here. She would not have returned to him without cause.

    He closed his book and stood to brush the sand from his trousers. He was reading Louis L’Amour’s Education of a Wandering Man, and thought he might have enjoyed meeting the writer. He had devoured L’Amour’s Westerns as a boy, because his grandfather’s shelves were filled with copies, but he hadn’t returned to them in the years since. Parker supposed he’d underestimated L’Amour because of the nature of his novels, and their associations with the games of cowboys and Indians played when he was young, or the TV shows that had once obsessed him: The Virginian, Casey Jones, The Adventures of Champion. Now it turned out that L’Amour had read more of the great works of literature than anyone Parker had ever before encountered, either in life or in print. He had spent time as a hobo on the Southern Pacific, as a deckhand on Atlantic vessels, as a boxer, as a writer, and always with a book close at hand. Parker felt as though he had encountered a kindred spirit in L’Amour, albeit one much wiser than he would ever be.

    The fall leaves were turning, the woods slowly transforming from green to red and gold, their colors like a smokeless conflagration. A chill had gradually crept into the air as the day progressed: not so much as to make sitting by Ferry Beach uncomfortable, but sufficient to rouse a man from his reading and cause him to seek shelter at last.

    But Parker did not want to leave, not yet. He experienced a familiar, unsettling sense of dislocation. The traffic sounded wrong to him, as though heard through fog. The light was smoked in sepia, the smell of the sea now heavy with decay.

    And his dead child had come.

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