This isn't your standard shock and bore serial killer novel. It's an impassioned story of a man's life told in Ellory's distinctive voice, and it confirms his place in the top flight of crime writing. A Quiet Belief In Angels is a beautiful and haunting book. This is a tour de force from R J Ellory.
RJ Ellory: detected, crime writer who faked his own glowing reviews
A young boy grows up in the shadow of a serial killer. In a rural Georgia backwater during the s and 40s a man kills and mutilates young girls. Joseph, a child himself, finds one of these victims. He forms a posse with his friends to try and find the perpetrator but without success. These are events which haunt Joseph and shape the rest of his life.
RJ Ellory: detected, crime writer who faked his own glowing reviews - Telegraph
The dead are not the only victims. Joseph escapes to the big city of New York where he forges a new life as a writer then hears word that the killings have started up again. From the opening page we know that Joseph finally finds the murderer but we do not learn his identity until much later on. The assurance with which Ellory writes and the lucid detail and elaboration he brings to his world are a feast for the reader.
Ellory works on an epic scale but makes us care deeply for his protagonist. His use of language is dizzying and delightful.
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I loved this book. It is essentially the story of Joseph's life, and it is absolutely wonderful. Every page brings a fresh revelation, an exquisite turn of phrase.
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Its sublime evocation of mid-century Augusta Falls, Georgia is almost physical: It's equally striking when the scene moves to NewYork, to the pulsing bars and salons of the Beat Generation. Then a terrible series of events turns Joseph's life upside down. This is as good as the best Southern Gothic literature. Try this one tiny example: He lit his pipe, and the crackle of fired tobacco was the only sound in the room. Arabesques of smoke curled towards the ceiling, and the light through the window turned them into ghosts.
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The most unusual serial-killer novel you'll ever read. It made me laugh and cry, and kept me up until the early hours of the morning. Ellory's latest novel is of loss, shattered innocence and redemption.
Joseph Calvin Vaughan was 12 when the first girl was taken. By the time he turned 40, there would be many more. Ellory takes the reader back in time when life was simple, to a town where everyone knew your name. But even then, against the quiet backdrop of the schoolyard, the church and the neighbouring farms, evil would come and go. From the moment the body of the brutally murdered Alice Van Horne was discovered, the community of Augusta Falls would never be the same.
Neither would Vaughan or those he cherished. Haunted by his childhood, his life would be turned on its head, time and time again. Ellory's tale is an ambitious one; a horrific story that will stay with you long after you've read the final paragraph. To do so would be a shame for both fans and non-fans of the crime thriller genre. Growing up in small-town Georgia, Joseph Vaughan knows only a hard life that is mired in tragedy and horror. Joseph organises a young band of vigilantes who call themselves The Guardians, but they can do nothing, and when the latest victim is a young Jewish girl, the community of Augusta Falls turns on non-Americans, including the Krugers who live next door to Joseph and his mother.
A Quiet Belief in Angels
These deaths dominate the path that Joseph Vaughan's life takes and what happens to the Krugers is nothing to what will happen to Joseph Vaughan. Joseph Vaughan is almost a magnet for Death - it touches those near and dear to him, and sometimes he sees it coming, and sometimes not.
As a child and a young man he often sees the workings of Death as his own fault. The events that catch him up in their thrall almost cost him his sanity, but the fact that he is at heart a writer finally helps him to the truth. I have put this book among my top finds for the year, and that is not just for a complex story well told, but also for Ellory's wonderful writing. Last week I saw a book categorised as a "literary thriller" and wondered what that actually meant. There's a quality in its word pictures that puts it right at the top.
This book should win awards! Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.