12 April 2008


Death took Joseph Vaughan's father in the summer of 1939 just after Joseph, 11 years old, had picked up a long slender white feather, perhaps from an angel's wing. Death came that day. Workmanlike, methodical, indifferent to fashion and favor; disrespectful of Passover, Christmas, all observance or any tradition. Death came - cold and unfeeling, the collector of life's taxation, the due paid for breathing.
In the following years Death visits the small community of Augusta Falls where Joseph lives with his mother many times, but as a serial killer who takes the lives of young girls after doing unspeakable things to them. At school Joseph learns of unbelievable events happening in Europe through the evil of Adolf Hitler, and when after Pearl Harbour America goes to war, the murders of the young girls continue, all girls that Joseph knows well. Joseph organises a young band of vigilantes who call themselves The Guardians, but they can do nothing, and when the latest victim is a young Jewish girl, the community of Augusta Falls turns on non-Americans, including the Krugers who live next door to Joseph and his mother.

I'm a 100 pages in, and the writing is wonderful, the sort though that you have to read carefully. No skim reading here, these are words to relish and savour.

Another taste:
Joseph is talking about Elena Kruger who lives on the farm next door. She is a little younger than him. I felt some fraternal pull towards her. She seemed fragile and disconsolate, adrift in a world where her father, her brothers, seemed to hold sway. I imagined her as some, gentle, lonely soul, a soul without tether or anchor, and I determined that I - in some small way - would attempt to make her life somehow happier.

The book opens in first person, and I presume this is Joseph speaking:
I sit quietly. I feel the warmth of my own blood on my hands, and I wonder how long I will continue to breathe. I look at the body of a dead man before me, and I know that in some small way justice has been seen to be done.
Throughout what I've read so far these glimpses of "the present" recur.

Enough.. on with the reading, and watching the football (only half an eye on the TV set). Off to see the Power play later this afternoon.

Ellory's novels so far (listed on Fantastic Fiction):
His website: http://www.rogerjonellory.com/

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