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The Road of the Dead [Paperback]

Kevin Brooks
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Paperback, March 6 2006 --  
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Book Description

March 6 2006
Late one night, two brothers learn that their sister has died in the worst imaginable way. She's found, strangled, in a desolate place hundreds of miles from their East London home. Ruben and Cole Ford set out to find their own answers. Ruben is the smarter of the two, with a gift for getting into other people's hearts and feeling what they feel; Cole may be older, but he's a dark-eyed devil's angel who doesn't care if he lives or dies. Together they retrace their sister's final journey to a remote Dartmoor village with a dark, menacing core. This is a heart-stopping, heart-breaking thriller about three ill-fated siblings and the love, and blood, that runs between them.

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From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up-Ruben Ford, 14, feels things. When his sister is murdered on the English moors, he knows she's dead even though he's home in London. He and his brother, Cole, 17, are freakishly linked by Ruben's power to feel what Cole feels. The teens travel to Dartmoor to find Rachel's killer and bring her body home. They're received by a Dickensian assortment of sadistic thugs, greasy criminals, and corrupt cops, all hiding something. Brooks's feel for mood and setting is as masterful here as in his taut, noir Martyn Pig (Scholastic, 2002). A haunting, tense drama builds from the first line and only lets up for scenes of brutal, vivid violence that bring readers back down to earth. The murder is all but solved by the second half of the book, and the pace falters a bit as the resolution becomes obvious. However, Brooks sustains a mythical aura throughout, and rapid-fire action should keep teens engrossed. Ruben is vintage Brooks: sensitive, strange, and wholly three-dimensional. The dialogue between the brothers is crisp and natural, and often funny and touching at once. Cole is perfectly drawn as Ruben's tough, detached counterbalance. Brooks shows that the real magic between the brothers is their ferocious love for one another, and he does so brilliantly.-Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Gr. 9-12. Fourteen-year-old Ruben Ford is sitting in his father's junkyard when he knows--knows--that his older sister, Rachel, has been raped and murdered. Perhaps it is his Gypsy blood that gives him second sight; Ruben can see and feel things others can't. He knows, for instance, that his ice-cold brother, Cole, is going to get into--and cause--trouble when he decides to go to desolate Dartmoor, where Rachel met her end. Brooks' great strength is his talent for intense description; he makes readers see, feel, and smell all that Ruben does--most of it coarse, disgusting, and ugly. The author uses an interesting technique to heighten that effect. Psychic Ruben can see things happening miles away, so Cole's battles with those responsible for Rachel's death are literally seen through Ruben's eyes. However, as in Kissing the Rain (2004), Brooks has trouble tying up loose ends. Thus, the question of how Cole comes upon a key piece of evidence is brushed away with Ruben's comment, "Does it matter?" Readers have sat through a lot of brutality (albeit strikingly written brutality) to get that information, so the answer is, well, yeah, it does. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars Aug. 18 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
True to Kevin Brooks writing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too Aug. 26 2007
Format:Paperback
Ruben knew exactly when it happened. He was sitting in the backseat of an old Mercedes in his family's salvage yard when the feeling came over him. Ruben often left his own body and could attach himself to others. He could sense their thoughts and emotions. This is what happened when he felt his sister, Rachel, get attacked and murdered. He knew exactly the moment Rachel's life was taken from her.

Even though he knew it had happened and knew that the Dead Man killed her, Ruben didn't say anything to his family. He hoped he might be wrong. He realized he wasn't when the police contacted the family. The details were simple: Rachel, nineteen years old, was visiting an old school friend in the small village of Lychcombe on Dartmoor. After her visit was over, she left and made her way toward London to return home, but never made it. Her body was found the following morning, strangled, raped, and battered.

The most important thing to the family was to get her back. They wanted to bury her and put her to rest. After a trip to the police station to find out how long her body would be held, the family found out that the police would keep her until the case was closed; meaning the murderer had to be caught. The problem with that was, Ruben knew the murderer was already dead and buried and the case wouldn't be solved anytime soon.

Ruben's older brother, Cole, wasn't going to sit around and wait. He planned to go to the village to find out what happened himself and he planned to go alone. He didn't want his younger brother going along to worry about. Ruben knew what Cole was thinking, though, and his mother wanted him to go along to make sure Cole didn't get himself hurt. Cole's temper tended to get him in trouble.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful May 25 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I usually don't pick up books at the library unless the inside front cover synopsis hints at romance or humor. The Road of the Dead hinted at neither, but something made me take it anyway. Perhaps I was just tyring to convince myself that the above statement wasn't true.
I wasn't expecting to be moved by this book -- I thought maybe I'd like it, maybe not. I didn't think it would make much of an impression on me. But I was wrong.
I really liked the portrayal of Cole and Ruben, the brothers who are searching for their sister's killer -- not, as in most other cases, for revenge, but simply so that they can bring her body home and bury her. The brothers are different -- as Ruben says, his mind is fast but his fists are slow, and Cole's mind is slow but his fists are fast -- but each is skillfully drawn. And the relationship between them is wonderful. It is the unattainable epitome of sibling relationships, and yet somehow realistic. It is the driving force behind the book, and a powerful force it is.
The Road of the Dead contains a slightly supernatural element, but it is worked in so seamlessly that after closing the book I found it odd that people can't see through the eyes of others who are far away in real life. It makes the story more complete, as well, and helps to give a first person narrative omniscience.
This book is well written and engaging, and I highly recommend it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too March 8 2007
By TeensReadToo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Ruben knew exactly when it happened. He was sitting in the backseat of an old Mercedes in his family's salvage yard when the feeling came over him. Ruben often left his own body and could attach himself to others. He could sense their thoughts and emotions. This is what happened when he felt his sister, Rachel, get attacked and murdered. He knew exactly the moment Rachel's life was taken from her.

Even though he knew it had happened and knew that the Dead Man killed her, Ruben didn't say anything to his family. He hoped he might be wrong. He realized he wasn't when the police contacted the family. The details were simple: Rachel, nineteen years old, was visiting an old school friend in the small village of Lychcombe on Dartmoor. After her visit was over, she left and made her way toward London to return home, but never made it. Her body was found the following morning, strangled, raped, and battered.

The most important thing to the family was to get her back. They wanted to bury her and put her to rest. After a trip to the police station to find out how long her body would be held, the family found out that the police would keep her until the case was closed; meaning the murderer had to be caught. The problem with that was, Ruben knew the murderer was already dead and buried and the case wouldn't be solved anytime soon.

Ruben's older brother, Cole, wasn't going to sit around and wait. He planned to go to the village to find out what happened himself and he planned to go alone. He didn't want his younger brother going along to worry about. Ruben knew what Cole was thinking, though, and his mother wanted him to go along to make sure Cole didn't get himself hurt. Cole's temper tended to get him in trouble. He took after his gypsy, bare-knuckle fighter father who was sentenced to a prison term for killing someone.

Even though their mother was worried about Ruben and Cole going away to look into the murder, no one could foresee the trouble in store for them once they started digging into Rachel's murder. As soon as they arrived in the village they knew they weren't welcome. Secrets were everywhere and no one wanted them to be dug up. Secrets that involved the entire village. Secrets that would lead them to pain, torture, death, and eventually the truth.

Kevin Brooks doesn't let us down. He has provided another heart-pounding, deeply emotional story with strong characters. THE ROAD OF THE DEAD is a great place to start if you haven't read any other books by this creative and unique author.

Reviewed by: Karin Perry
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An unforgettable and exhilarating novel March 16 2006
By Teen Reads - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Kevin Brooks is the master of writing juicy thrillers for teens (MARTYN PIG, LUCAS, KISSING THE RAIN, CANDY), and his latest caper, THE ROAD OF THE DEAD, doesn't disappoint. With plenty of plot twists, pulse-racing action sequences, and just a slight twinge of sentiment to keep all parts in check, Brooks's fifth novel once again will have his devotees holding their breath until the last page is turned.

As in many of his previous books, Brooks sets the stage with an unresolved murder and plenty of complicated loose ends to untangle. "On Friday, May 14, Rachel had taken a trip to Plymouth to visit an old school friend named Abbie Gorman...On the night of Tuesday, May 18, Rachel set out from Lychcombe on her way back to London. She never arrived. Her body was found the following morning in a remote moorland field about a mile of the village. She'd been raped and battered and strangled." One dead 19-year-old girl. No killer. No motive. No leads.

Almost immediately after the news of her death, Rachel's two surviving brothers, Cole (17) and Ruben (14) set off for Lychcombe to find her killer so that the case can be closed and the ever-so-unhelpful police can release Rachel's body from the morgue to be buried in peace. What Cole and Ruben don't realize is that the circumstances surrounding her murder are a lot more complicated than they ever suspected and that it would take much more than a bit of digging (literally) to uncover the truth.

When the two arrive in Lychcombe, they are met (not unsurprisingly) with more than their fair share of resistance. Abbie and her husband, Vince, are welcoming, but definitely hiding something; the local police are doing everything they can not to find Rachel's killer; and the town thugs are itching to get in the way of Cole and Ruben's investigation --- even if it means doing whatever it takes, however violent, to ensure that the secrets they're all hiding stay concealed.

In a masterful showdown between the avengers (Cole and Ruben) and the avenged (seemingly everyone in the town, aside from Cole's surprise love interest and eventual cohort, Jess, and her family), the story barrels its way towards another Kevin Brooks signature explosive climax, leaving nothing and no one untouched when the dust finally settles.

Without a doubt, THE ROAD OF THE DEAD is riveting, thoroughly absorbing, and a pure heart-thumping pleasure to read. There are a few unanswered questions that may not sit well with some readers (i.e. Why would their mother let Cole and Ruben go alone to the town where their sister was murdered, without any backup or protection? How could one 17-year-old boy and one 14-year-old boy possibly take on an entire town? Why didn't any number of "bad guys" kill Cole and Ruben when they had the chance?), and an overwhelming presence of seriously graphic violence throughout that certainly may not sit well with some parents. But overall, Kevin Brooks's latest is an exhilarating ride that teens won't soon forget.

--- Reviewed by Alexis Burling
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark tale of discovery and unusual talents set against a backdrop of murder Aug. 12 2006
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Kevin Brooks' The Road Of The Dead tells of a teen who can sense things nobody else can. After his sister's death, he and his brother leave their London home for the moors of Devon, where they are determined to uncover the truth behind her murder. The Road Of The Dead is a recommended pick for mature teens: a dark tale of discovery and unusual talents set against a backdrop of murder.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There will be no easy ending here Aug. 5 2009
By Mark Louis Baumgart - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
We start out with young Ruben Ford having a psychic experience, learning that somebody has killed his sister Rachel. Then the police show up and inform his mother (Mary) and his brother (Cole), his father is in prison for manslaughter, that his Rachel's body has been found, and it hadn't been an easy death. Ruben has another vision, and he knows that the person who killed Rachel is now also dead. Then the police inform the Fords they can't take Rachel home until her murder is solved.

Ruben's is a tough family of lower class, Irish/English citizens, they have no faith that the police will find out who killed Rachel, or why, and they don't care. Ruben and Cole are dispatched by Mary to go to Dartmoor to retrieve Rachel's body and bring her home, and to do this they have to find out who killed her, and where his body is buried.

Arriving in Dartmoor, they call Abbie, Rachel's friend, the woman that she spent her last night with, and arrange for her to put them up. Right away they know that something is wrong, as Ruben and Cole can get no answers or service in the local tavern, the local police warn them off, there is an attempted assault, and it seems that most of the businesses have closed up, making Dartmoor a virtual ghost town.

Abbie is not happy to see them, and seems to be hiding something, her husband Vince is even less happy, and seems to be hiding even more.

The more that they ask, the more they are threatened, and there are several violent confrontations and they are taken in finally by gypsies, who had a vision themselves that Dartmoor was the place that they had to relocate to.

Things start to unravel as the Ford boys are nobody to mess with. Cole is taciturn and cold, but also prone to sudden violence, and is as tough and hard as nails, and Ruben is quick, smart, and has psychic visions, and both are as stubborn as they come. They are not leaving until their job is done.

This is a hardboiled crime drama and mystery in the manner of the hardboiled crime melodramas of the fifties and early sixties. It's not for the squeamish, as Brooks does not tap dance around any of the violence or menace. Young Ruben is tortured and beaten, the racism against the gypsies is never glossed over, and Cole's violence becomes deadly.

The main problem is an over reliance on Ruben's astral projection. In the last fourth of the "Road Of The Dead" everything happens off stage and we only know of it through Ruben's visions. This feels like a cheat. Everything in the novel happens in real time, and we experience everything in its full force, and then the last quarter happens and we are totally distanced from it, and I felt cheated.

The ending though is just as tough as the rest of the novel, and there isn't a feel-good clean-cut ending. This is a hardboiled crime novel remember, nothing is ever easy, and there are almost never any winners. Four stars because of the over reliance on Ruben's visions in the novel's last quarter, which keep it from getting the full five. Otherwise, a tough crime novel that pulls no punches and Brooks writes down to no one. For mid- to later teens and up, but not for the real young, and not for the weak.
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