Chapters 28-33

The denouement of the Adelaide Modine/Isobel Barton/Ferrera family plots comes rather quickly. The entirety of the mob subplot hinges on Sonny Ferrera’s involvement with Baton/Modine, and the large number of mob-related killings occurred as part of Ferrera pere‘s attempts to cover up the fact that Sonny had graduated from watching children being abused to killing them himself, culminating in the death of Sonny Ferrera at his father’s hands. Parker’s attempts to bring Barton/Modine to justice are briefly thwarted by her attempts to again fake her death. Cornering her after a car chase ending in her car crashing, in which Barton/Modine crashes, she has time to, conveniently, reveal that she knows who killed Parker’s family, before her gas tank ignites.

Debriefed at the police station, Walt Cole informs Parker that the entire reason he got him involved in this missing person case was because he had strong suspicions that someone at the Barton estate was involved with the disappearance of Evan Banes, and Parker, who he knows got away with the murder of the pimp Johnny Friday, might be able to recognize someone else who got away with murder. This notion of killers being able to somehow recognize each other is a metaphysical point that will be revisited in later books. We are also now given background on Parker’s father, which had been hinted at before but mostly glossed over. Parker’s father was a police officer, a patrolman, who killed two unarmed teenagers; a local “tough kid” and his girl-friend, before going home and killing himself. The crime was apparently motiveless and unprompted, but never fully investigated because the death of all parties implies closure. Before too much conversation on these points can occur, however, Parker is called by Tante Marie in Lousiana (the vooddoo woman from earlier chapters) because the Traveling Man is coming for her.

Traveling to the shack in the bayou with Woolrich, Parker and the feds arrive too late to prevent the murders of Tante Marie and her youngest son, both disemboweled and their faces removed. Florence, Tante Marie’s youngest daughter arrives at the scene last, and points a gun at Parker and Woolrich before killing herself. With these new deaths, the FBI now officially links the deaths of Parker’s wife and daughter to a serial killer. Setting up a wire-tap in his hotel room (which Parker briefly evades in order to contact Angel and Louis, as well as take a call from Rachel), the FBI waits for the Traveling Man to contact Parker. He does twice, first insisting that he won’t speak until Woolrich is also there, and the second time beginning the call with the instruction that Parker is not to talk. Curiously, TM calls Paker “Bird” throughout the call, a name which previously we had seen reserved only for Parker’s friends. TM also strongly implies that Parker and Woolrich are now “united in grief,” linked in a way similar to the way that TM implies he and Parker are linked.

A careful reading suggests that we are now witnessing another incident of our hero being blatantly played by the villain.

These chapters conclude with a local cop, Morphy, taking Parker on a a visual tour with lecture on the history of local crime-families. Mostly this focuses on Joe Bones, second-generation gangster whose father was killed for having an affair with a mixed-race woman, and the Fontenots, Cajun brothers running a racially integrated crime syndicate. Their styles are vastly different, with Bones going for violence and the Fontenots more focused on maintaining the veneer of businesslike behavior, but the important detail is that one of Bones’ lieutenants, Tony Remarr, was harassing Tante Marie in order to buy her land, and his bloody fingerprint was found at the crime scene.

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