A thriller minus the thrills - whatever next!
Touted as a thriller, A Quiet Belief in Angels is not written like one. The range of vocabulary, descriptive and monologue set pieces are beautifully composed but fail to raise the thrill factor. Indeed, the autobiographical narrative only serves to turn this into a personal journey, even if that journey is littered with some sad and occasionally traumatic events.
Joseph is our narrator. He was a young boy when the killings began in his small home town, Augusta Falls. Although, the killings themselves seem hardly pivotal to the progress of the plot – more so is the strange relationships that Joseph has with his mother, his teacher and the German family across the way - at the time of the Second World War. The trauma of having happened upon one of the unfortunate victims of the serial killer undoubtedly unsettle Joseph, and as soon as he is able, he attempts to move on physically and emotionally by moving away. But not before he has endured more personal suffering and pain.
The existence of a serial killer that eludes capture is second to Joseph’s ever disastrous life, that eventually lead him to being imprisoned himself for a murder he did not commit. Interestingly, these events lead Joseph to write a bestselling novel called – A Quiet Belief in Angels. It was at this point that I felt the author had somewhat lost track of what constitutes a thriller and instead had resorted to self-prophetic notions of how well his latest book is going to do...
This is a slow moving, highly detailed and gloriously well executed novel – about a guy called Joseph who happened to get himself mixed in some crazy stuff and well, became a bestselling author because of it. No one can deny this is immaculately crafted and emotionally written – but it is not a thriller. I did not get even one goose bump, not the slightest whiff that the author was actually interested in the serial killer, or the killings themselves. This is more a story of the impact such horrible events may have on impressionable young boys.
Despite the literary competence of Ellory, I found myself disliking this book. I felt cheated. And I don’t like being cheated.
We interview C J Daugherty about Night School
- 10 January 2012