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Pied Pipers Poison Mass Market Paperback – Sep 1 2002

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 298 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Press; Reprint edition (Sept. 1 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158567320X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585673209
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.4 x 19.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 345 g

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Robert Watt, first-person narrator of Wallace's unsettling, uneven debut novel, is a Scottish doctor who, upon retirement, recalls his wartime service as a 24-year-old newly accredited medic sent out into the chaos of postwar Europe. His job was to identify the origins of a baffling epidemic at two refugee camps--one outside of Berlin and the other on the Polish-Ukrainian border--and he makes it clear that something awful happened that has haunted him for the rest of his life and even invalidated his career. "I cannot talk of my career in medicine because I am, and always have been, a fraud." His secret past gradually comes to light through a series of flashbacks--a lengthy process, since the primary narrative alternates with another: a "paper" on the true story behind the Pied Piper of Hamelin. This document is reputedly written by Arthur Lee, Robert's colleague at both camps, a man deranged yet enlightened by the loss in the Blitz of his wife and children. Presumably, Wallace decided to juxtapose these two narratives because both bear witness to how blind and ultimately evil humans can be when faced with situations of anarchy and chaos, but the fit is forced. Neither narrative is strong enough to support the portentousness of its themes--"the devils have taken over, the ones from within"--and the invented horrors feel a bit redundant in a novel that takes place right after the Holocaust. This failure is particularly disappointing as Wallace can write: his na?ve young Scot has a convincing voice, and it is easy to believe in his postadolescent fumblings and blindness. Given a decent plot, this new author could go far. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

This ambitious first novel is an unrelenting descent into horror. It's 1946, and Rob, a young doctor from Glasgow, is in Berlin to work with refugees. He lives in a bleak makeshift camp set up by the Allies and spends his long days examining Europe's new homeless as they attempt to make it to the West. Wallace's depiction of Europe at the end of the war is absolutely brilliant. Although hardly a rich historical novel, Wallace picks his details wonderfully well, capturing the exhaustion, deprivation, and spiritual emptiness of the time. Suddenly, Rob is sent to Tarutz, a camp in Poland quarantined because of a horrific disease. As Rob investigates the illness, Wallace again makes unspeakable horror come painfully alive. Alternating with this narrative is a found text, a document written by Arthur Lee, Rob's roommate throughout this ordeal and sent to Rob in the present day, and it recounts the "real" story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin toward the end of the Thirty Years War. Unfortunately, this story never quite takes off. Nevertheless, these duel narratives do share parallels both obvious and more subtle that give the novel a claustrophobic intensity, perfect for the author's exploration of humankind's dark history. Brian Kenney --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Dark, disturbing and completely mesmerizing June 9 2000
By DMD - Published on Amazon.com
Imagine a modernized Brothers Grimm tale for adults. Perfect for anyone that loved The Manchurian Candidate or Jacob's Ladder. Wallace leads the reader into Poland as well as a forgotten Hamelin to face the horrors of war, a mysterious disease, and a town under siege. Gruesome and gripping, Wallace cuts to the heart of the Pied Piper tale and exposes the frightening truth--the Piper is here to save us from ourselves.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Engaging to the end July 17 2000
By Richard Krabbendam - Published on Amazon.com
This book was captivating from the beginning, and the author creates an eerie sense of anticipation that builds as the story unfolds.
For parents encouraging young teenage children to build their reading and reasoning abilities, this book could be quite an exciting challenge. The author has sufficient command of the power of language that he didn't have to stoop to using "strong" language to cover his own weakness. The few love scenes are fairly discreet as well.
The only small criticism I have is that the ending is not quite as surprising as the author would have us believe. Imagine sitting through a very well structured talk, only to have the conclusion be something a bit more obvious than you might have expected. Enjoyable all the same. If Mr. Wallace has more books out, I expect to read another soon.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
One Million Four Hundred Sixty Six Thousand and Twenty Three June 20 2000
By taking a rest - Published on Amazon.com
As I write, the number above is the rank this book currently occupies as denoted by sales. There must have been a meeting on the "grassy knoll" of publishers to keep this brilliant work from us. The book has only recently been published here in the US, this month, but Europe has been enjoying this work of Mr. Wallace's since 1998 and in 5 languages!
The work is brilliant, for this to be a debut novel is only just this side of remarkable. The last premier of an Author that came close to this type of exciting discovery was "In The Fall" by Mr. Jeffrey Lent. The works do not share the same genre unless excellence has now been named as such.
The book moves like a wraith from the era of the pre-Reformation Catholic Church during the 30 years war to Eastern Europe as it stumbles from the nightmare of WW II into the evil existence that is Mr. Wallace's creation. The reading of this book is truly an experience, a dark and evil feeling that Edgar Allan Poe would leave a reader with. Reading this book is to almost be infected with one of the forms of dread that lies in wait for you in this work.
The seemingly few graphic descriptions of suffering almost pass you by, as unease leaves you cold and trying not to think about the implications you have read. There is nothing common in the manner the Author delivers his terror to you. Much of the book you are in a group listening to the protagonist recount his story many years after he believes he understands what it is that happened.
The Pied Piper of Hamelin is as evil in the hands of Mr. Wallace as that player of pipes has ever been. His memory alone tortures those in a holding camp in Tarutz Poland, indeed it drives one expected to be the most rational insane.
When the young Doctor enters Tarutz for the first time it is as follows "the despair hit me as soon as we entered, seeping in silently through the windows, through the leather soles of my boots, the wretched earth laden with poisonous seed. If hell has a garden, an underworld equivalent of Eden, we were now there."
Fantastic writing, great story, and the talent pours from the book as from one of the masters of the 19th Century.
You will love this book!
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Spellbinding First Novel About Man's Inhumanity To Man! Sept. 29 2000
By Barron Laycock - Published on Amazon.com
In this spectacular, spellbinding, ethereal, macabre, and uneasy novel, a young Scottish doctor makes a journey of discovery, and what a wild trip it is! The young doctor takes a guided tour through the hell of postwar Europe, and with each step is sucked inexorably deeper into the human quagmire and deeper into discovering just how eternal man's inhumanity to man is. Set initially amid the rubble and ruins of postwar Berlin, with its mingling minions of desperate homeless, then moving on to all too typically horrifying war camp in the mud, decay, and filth of bombed-out post war Poland, the protagonist peals off selective layers of civilized behavior and mystery as he delves deeply into the human psyche and what makes man so consistently barbaric to his fellows. We learn quite quickly along with this young doctor the dangerous and deadly complexities of existence, and learn, to our horror, just how terrible and shocking this complexity can be. And thus the ceremony of innocence is drowned.
What the doctor discovers transpiring in the damp and dusky cellars of this wretched estate turned internment camp is surprising, shocking, illuminating, and provocative, and endlessly fascinating because one is often convinced that one thing is happening while on another level it appears that something quite different is actually transpiring. And yet these false leads often turn out not to be so false, or so clear cut, or so easy to either prove or discount. There is a powerful, intelligent and irresistible energy driving the narrative that spins you along despite your mounting trepidation as to where all this is leading you.
This is a whopper of a first novel, and one that works by flipping back and forth between the present day and a quite revealing and similar incident that occurred at the end of the Thirty Years War several centuries before. What author Christopher Wallace is really taking us on here, however, appears to be a express subway ride back down into the heart of human darkness, and what we see when we arrive is hard to describe, so dark and tentative are the shadows we can recognize. But what we see horrifies us.
This is a great book and a great read, and a terrific effort for someone entering the fray with their first novel. I read it very quickly and set it aside for another reading some weekend soon. I hope you can find yourself a copy and read it before it disappears from view. Believe me, this is not the last you will hear of this Wallace fellow! And by the way, what a wonderful property for a sophisticated and intelligent suspense/horror movie. Enjoy!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
weak ending after a good start Feb. 2 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Halfway through this book, I thought I'd found a classic - but I found the ending very weak. The author opts for some generic "we all have evil in us" preaching and the parallel between the post-WW2 and Hamelin stories is pointless - each story has the same general moral, so there's no reason to have both. The author has a good style, characterizes well and moves the story along effectively, but I agree with another reviewer who said there really isn't a sense of despair/hopelessness created