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A Quiet Belief in Angels Hardcover – Large Print, Dec 2009


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--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 713 pages
  • Publisher: Thorndike Pr; Lrg edition (December 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 141042118X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1410421180
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.7 x 3.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 862 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,920,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Once again R.J. Ellory shows off his special talents... 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." -- Susanna Yager Sunday Telegraph "Each jolt strikes perfectly, and the reader will seek, utterly riveted, this masochistic beating right to the end of the book... This is thriller writing of the very highest order." -- Matthew Lewin The Guardian --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

It's been six years since Pen Calloway watched Cat and Will, her best friends from college, walk out of her life. Through the birth of her daughter, the death of her father, and the vicissitudes of single motherhood, she has never stopped missing them. When, after years of silence, Cat—the bewitching, charismatic center of their group—urgently requests that the three meet at their college reunion, Pen can't refuse. But instead of a happy reconciliation, what awaits is a collision of past and present that sends Pen and Will on a journey around the world, with Pen's five-year-old daughter and Cat's hostile husband in tow. And as Pen and Will struggle to uncover the truth about Cat, they find more than they bargained for: startling truths about who they were before and who they are now.

With her trademark wit, vivid prose, and gift for creating authentic, captivating characters, Marisa de los Santos returns with an emotionally resonant novel about our deepest human connections.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Hardeep on Sept. 1 2008
Format: Paperback
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful:
An intense, heartbreaking voyage of true finesse and beauty, 11 Jan 2008
I didn't simply read this book, follow its passages glibly, only briefly envisioning the scenes described. I didn't, because that was simply not possible; I lived it, felt it, and was drawn inexorably within it. This work, by Ellory, is an experience that will stay with me for many years, and anybody who is conversant with Quiet Belief In Angels will have a clear idea as to why.

The premise of the book is not convoluted, or impregnable, it is actually simple, if rather harrowing. The story follows the life of Joseph Vaughan, haunted by the child killings in his hometown; Augusta Falls. These shadows follow him, haunt him and fortify his desperate desire for deliverance. In his yearning to escape he is fully possessed by them, until they dominate his very being.

I was moved by the style, the description, the deftness and mastery with which Ellory creates this world and draws one into it. The way you become emotionally attached to the characters, experiencing real emotion, exhilaration and despair. I can actually see the protagonist, Joseph Vaughan in my minds eye; I feel I know him, his reactions, attitudes and decisions, like I do a close friends. I can feel, breath, almost experience Augusta Falls, and thus created an emotional attachment to the stricken town. So much so, that when the passage of time creates irrevocable changes, I found myself yearning nostalgically for the more rustic humble town of the 1940's.

Throughout this journey, I felt the anguish in the inequity of Joseph Vaughan's fortune, yet beamed, at his times of happiness.
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Format: Paperback
One day in July 1939, when Joseph Vaughan was 12 years old, a white feather blew into his room. Joseph saw this as a sign of an angel's visit. On the same day, his father died.

This angel, the Angel of Death, becomes a frequent visitor to the rural community of Augusta Falls in Georgia. And, as World War II becomes a reality in Europe, a number of young girls, classmates of Joseph, are murdered. Evil takes many different forms. Joseph wants to try to protect his community, and together with his friends, forms a group called `The Guardians'. They are powerless to stop the killer, and the murders continue. At least ten girls have been murdered by the time Joseph reached adulthood. The nightmares that result continue to haunt him.

`Words are only so much use if they say something worth hearing.'

Joseph has dreams, as well as nightmares. He dreams of being a writer, and is encouraged by his mother and his teacher. His teacher, Miss Alexandra Webber, tells him to always tell the truth as he sees it, not how others wish it to be seen.

Joseph's search for truth in relation to the murders is challenged by a series of horrific events in his own life. He moves to the city hoping to find peace in anonymity but still the nightmares haunt him. Joseph needs to discover the truth about the murders in order to find peace.

I became totally absorbed in this novel: the characters were well developed; the plot was not as straightforward as I first thought, and the language was splendid. Sometimes the pace seemed too slow, but by the end it all made sense. I think that a faster pace would have reduced the impact of the story. This is a haunting story: each character has a place in Joseph Vaughan's life, and his life becomes very real as events unfold.

`At times I have believed that age is the enemy of truth.'

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER on Dec 1 2009
Format: Audio CD
With his impressive training, deft vocal execution, on spot elocution we might almost call Mark Bramhall a scholarly actor. He studied acting at Harvard, the University of California, the American Conservatory Theater, and as a Fulbright scholar at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Yet, the term scholarly doesn't do him justice as his voice is not only superbly trained but quietly dramatic, compelling as it carries readers along in this extraordinary story, A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS.

We hear, "I look back across the span of my life, and I try to see it for what it was. Amidst the madness that I encountered, amidst the rush and smash and brutality of the collisions of humanity I have witnessed, there have been moments...."

Yes, there were many moments in Joseph Vaughan's life but overshadowing all is what occurred in 1939 when he was living in a small town in Georgia - a heinous crime, the murder of a young girl. However, that's not the end of it as other young girls are slain. Joseph forms a group called "The Guardians" to keep their small community safe. But they're unable to stop the killings, which do eventually appear to end. A man is discovered dead, hung and he's believed to have been the killer.

We flash forward to 1952 when Joseph is living in Brooklyn and has found not only success as a writer but also love. Yet strangely death once again follows Joseph and his pregnant soon to be bride is murdered. Joseph is believed to be the killer and is imprisoned only to be released some 13 years later. He returns to his small Georgia town determined to find the real killer of those young girls so many years ago. He finds that the tally of dead girls has risen and discovers who the murderer is.

What follows is an unbelievable scenario, powerful and unforgettable. R. J. Ellroy has crafted a crime story unlike any other, beautifully written, one might almost say poetic, rich with passion and power.

- Gail Cooke
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 62 reviews
65 of 84 people found the following review helpful
over-written and full of anachronisms Aug. 17 2009
By R. S. Lehman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I don't think the writing is at all elegant. On the contrary, I found it cloying. The undergraduate literary pretensions and fantasies are everywhere from using the "catcher in the rye" images on the first page to the dedication to Truman Capote. Those things presage the preciousness of his writer-protagonist ("for that's who I was, who I will always be . . . nothing more than the storyteller, the teller of tales" --why the redundancy, by the way?) whose forthcoming book at the end is "tipped to be the number one bestseller of the year" (nobody in publishing speaks of a book's prospects that way). Add to that the metaphors run amok ("Special moments--sporadic, like knots tied, irregularly spaced as if crows on a telegraph wire"--which is it, knots or crows?). Everything is so fraught. Even rough-hewn Reilly Hawkins speaks in overwrought metaphors. He describes a deceased older brother as having "eyes like back-lit sapphires." Would an uneducated Georgia farmer in 1941 describe a man as having "eyes like back-lit sapphires?" How would he know what "back-lit" even meant? Why would he say such a thing when the rest of the time he is incapable of subject-verb agreement?

The silly redundancy mentioned above is clearly part of the author's conscious style. I admit to finding it tremendously irritating; it's a cheap attempt to heap emotional weight onto a phrase for no good reason. Other examples:
". . . and so the events of that day seemed all the more disparate and incongruous."

"Death came that day. Workmanlike, methodical . . ."

". . . but in some small way an omen, a protent."

"Her hair was flax and linen . . ."

"Just for a heartbeat, a fraction of a second."

"She changed the subject--suddenly, unexpectedly-- . . ." [Not technically synonyms, but a redundancy in this context.]

". . . at first nothing more than a spark, an ember . . ." [Again, not precisely a synonym, but redundant.]

Young Joe has the same problem with his writing, which is stylistically remarkably like Ellory's: ". . . a ghost that walked with him, beside him . . ."

Other problems:
* Where does Joe get his broad vocabulary as a young man? There's no mention of books in the home (except one Steinbeck), his parents are uneducated, and there's no mention of diligent reading of any kind on his part.

* Laverna Stowell was found dead June 7, 1941, exactly six months before Pearl Harbor, but young Joe Vaughn already knew all about the arrests of the Jews and their murders in concentration camps, something most of the world didn't know much about until the camps were liberated. Even Rielly has heard about it! And Joe's mother has the whole thing already completely figured out--"Adolf Hitler has been slowly poisoning the minds of the German people, and he has been doing this long before he went to war." The Holocaust is central to the story, yet the fact that characters know of it at all that early, much less in such accurate detail, is an anachronism.

* Reilly says his father died of cancer from smoking black cigarettes, but the link between cancer and cigarettes was not widely known in 1941--another anachronism.

* Joe Vaughn scoffs at the existence of the Boogeyman but believes that a personified Death literally came along the High Road to claim his father?

* Sheriff Dearing said all the Guardians would be "grounded" as punishment--in 1941 rural Georgia? The term didn't exist. He might as well have given them a time out. Another anachronism.

* So many scenes ring terribly false e.g., his mother explaining about her affair with Kruger and Joe suddenly being completely okay with it, mature and philosophical at 14 and willing to admit his own sexual yearnings--yeah, right.

* A friend gets Joe's prison memoir published and the book prompts an appeal of his murder conviction to the Supreme Court of the United States. How? Never explained. Why the Supreme Court? Never explained--it seems to have gone straight there, which is silly for a murder case. SCOTUS awards him a new trial which he wins (why he wins is never clear).

Sorry, but this book is a mess in my opinion. Reading it was more an annoyance than a pleasure.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Disappointing April 22 2011
By Clelie Rich - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
After all the praise that this book has received, I was looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately, I found it disappointing. There was little in the way of characterization -- all the boys/men read as quite similar, as did the women, with the exception of Alex, but she was far too much of cliché, both as Joseph's teacher and later as his lover, for me to care about her. In addition, it became obvious quite early on who the serial killer was, and it was just a question of getting to the end to be sure. The whole looking-back-from-a-death-scene feel was another cliché that bugged me. I prefer a narrative that is immediate to one that is reflected on from a great distance.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Quiet Belief in Angels Feb. 2 2011
By Spider Monkey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I'm sorry to say after so many glowing reviews that 'A Quiet Belief in Angels' is a huge disappointment. After a promising start I soon found the writing to be pretty slow paced and it feels very forced and laboured at times. It plods along and then a phrase or sentence jumps out at you where you think 'that actually describes that quite well' but then you realise that you've been brought crashing out of the story and that it actually feels a touch cliched. It only stands out as good compared to the rest of this plodding and basic work. It seems to me that Ellory desperately wants to write as well as Steinbeck (as he alludes to him a great deal and the style and period is very reminiscent of Steinbecks work) and as a result this book feels derivative and never comes close to living up to Steinbeck's greatness. In addition, he blatantly rips off Steinbeck when copying the idea of a Germans house being burnt down, as Steinbeck wrote exactly this in his East Of Eden novel. I'd suggest you forget this book and go straight to Steinbeck's masterly and beautiful books (The Grapes of Wrath can not be recommended highly enough). I found the storyline to be pretty formulaic and the ending predictable and nowhere near as shocking as the author may have wanted it to be. There are many flaws, such as being written in the first person and the main character working out who the murderer is and then seeming surprised at the end when it is revealed, as well as numerous chronological and historical inaccuracies that should have been picked up in editing. It is a shame that this book was chosen by Richard and Judy for their book club, as other better written and coherent books are out there that could be read by a huge amount of people to get turned on to great writing, rather than this book which I personally felt to be uninspiring and flawed pulp fiction. I can only apologise to those who loved this.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
More a quiet belief in R.J. Ellory than in angels. April 21 2008
By Scully Bloke - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
got this book simply because of the excellent reviews on amazon.co.uk. Indeed many people had written comments like "wow", "awesome" and "best book I have ever read".

I feel I must write another review (88 already written by now) just to say that the book is indeed very good, but it certainly does not deserve the fanatical reviews received.

The main character of the book Joseph does not command the sympathy of the reader for the life he is given. The reason for this is his unerring capacity to do very little when faced with his life's challenges. He seems to drift through the book ensuring only that he captures his feelings and thoughts for the reader.

The book is very well written in a classic novel approach. Excellent use of vocabulary and prose bring the Georgia landscape to life.

The story itself is a little on the unbelievable side. So many murders, so many police departments involved and yet so few clues, so few suspects. Indeed many of the pieces of the puzzle are only delivered in the final 20 pages.

Still its an excellent read, I enjoyed it very much. It's a page turner, you do need to know what happens next

More a quiet belief in Ellory than in angels.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
not as good as it thinks it is Jan. 12 2012
By Inertia Diaries - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This wouldn't have been a bad crime thriller, had it not been ruined by the author's apparent belief that he's a much better writer than he actually is. He aims for the lyrical and poetic and falls flat because he doesn't apparently understand the value of restraint or economy, and that constant repetition of an idea will diminish its impact.

I suspect that many editors today aren't ruthless enough, and are too ready to swallow their authors' self-hyping. A good editor might have suggested that Mr Ellory put less effort into the elaboration of his style, and more into ironing out the flaws and implausibilities of his story. Of the latter there are unfortunately quite a few: no insight into the motives of the killer, no satisfactory explanation of the narrator's obsession with and irrational feelings of responsibility for the murders; inadequate acknowledgement of the traumatic legacy a series of such horrific crimes would surely have had on a small town where nearly everyone knew each other. And too many anachronisms in the dialogue - "enough already", "enjoy", etc - that's just lazy writing!

Despite this, I really think that as a story-teller, he does have some talent: I read the book to the end because I was keen to see the resolution of the mystery, and the identity of the culprit. But as a writer, sadly, he doesn't have a great deal to say.


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