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3.9 out of 5 stars
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Showing 1-4 of 4 reviews(3 star)show all reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2001
This book both enthralled me, and gave me the chills. It was much like reading "The Silence of the Lambs" from the point of view of Hannibal. You know, "I HAD to kill the census worker, his liver just went SO WELL with fava beans and chianti."
Reading the other customer reviews, I both loved and hated the book. I could agree with points on both sides. I'm not sure whether this means that it is a truly gifted book, or that I'm really twisted....
I'm sure that I would have liked it much more if I had had a knowledge of French or French cuisine. Some of the names of dishes he mentioned in passing would probably have added to the wit of the book if I had known what they were. I can understand what a pate is, but some of the more convoluted dish names had me saying "What the heck is that?"
Well worth the time and effort to read if you can get through the dense and convoluted prose.
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on July 21, 1997
Yes, our narrator is droll. Yes, he's possessed of more knowledge than the staffs of Encyclopedia Britannica and the Library of Congress put together. And he's witty, too.

But he's an icicle. His chill is at first refreshing, but then numbing. Through all the recipes, through all the elitist opinions on absolutely everything (many of which are piercing and hilarious both) he remains below freezing. And he drops hints about his psychopathic activities so loudly they'd wake his murdered victims. The cultured killer is far from a novel concept, and hardly concept enough for a novel. All right already, some killers are well-educated and charming. I kept wondering, what does our narrator care for? What drives him, what is he fighting for? But he remained so wholly impenetrable, so completely without a human inner life, that boredom fell upon me. The effort to discern the vaguest of human qualities in our narrator having all but exhausted me, I turned to the other people he observes. Needless to say, the clinical precision with which he views the world leaves those in his sight devoid of warmth.

One could get the same impression left by this book in a fraction of the time by listening to "Murder by Numbers" by the Police on their album "Synchronicity." To the point, clever, and great cymbal-work by Copeland.

Alternately, you could take the advice of the Talking Heads:

Psycho killer . . .
Run run run, run run run away.
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on January 19, 2001
Tarquin Winot is from the Hannibal school of elegant criminals, but he is far more effete and philosophical than Lecter. He's also a narcissistic snob. A bad man with refined and sophisticated tastes-- Hannibal crossed with Humbert Humbert maybe? Or better yet, Van Veen, if Van were somewhat more dehumanized. The Nabokovian affectation is obvious, but it comes across as Nabokov Lite. Still this book has its moments; despite the overly parenthetical and often obtuse prose style it is sometimes very very funny.
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on July 27, 1998
Despite being about one of my most favourite subjects, Lanchester's latest work was much work indeed. I tend to consume books in bits and pieces, often leaving the story on a table for days on end before returning. Not easy with A Debt to Pleasure, as it requires constant attention. Nonetheless, John produced some good (if not wordy) writing and insight into something we all like and need - food.
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