Sunday 17 April 2011

Bad Signs by R J Ellory

Crime fiction has never been my first-choice genre, although I do really enjoy it - I always seem to have some other book that I pick up first.

However,  ever since I first read A Quiet Belief in Angels by Roger Ellory, I have been hooked on his work and since then I've read all of his books.   I eagerly await each new novel that he releases, then devour it as soon as I get my hands on it.  
So far, I've never been disappointed.  I was lucky enough to get my hands on an uncorrected proof copy of his latest novel Bad Signs which is due to be published on 23 June 2011 and have had my nose firmly stuck in it for the past few days.

I've also been lucky enough to meet Roger on quite a few occasions and to hear him speak about his work is a joy.  He is a fabulous speaker, with some fantastic tales to tell, not just about his books and his writing career, but also lots of stuff about his travels in America, his life and what has influenced him.  If you ever get to chance to go along to one of his talks, I'd really advise you get a ticket.

One of the most exciting things I ever took part in was Antony Gormley's project - One And Other.  This was Gormley's commission for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London.  It took place for 100 days from July to October 2009 - 2400 people stood on the Plinth for one hour each.  I was delighted to be chosen and Roger was good enough to let me take a copy of his novel The Anniversary Man to read whilst I was on the plinth.  My spot was 7am on 22 August 2009, it was a beautiful sunny day and I loved every minute of it.

So back to my thoughts on Roger's latest book - Bad Signs:

Bad Signs is set in the 1960s, in Texas in the USA and takes place during one week - only seven days, but an exhausting seven days, for the characters and for the reader.   Elliot and Clarence are two half-brothers, better known as Digger and Clay, they were orphaned at an early age and have spent their time in 'juvy'.

Life has not been good for them - were they born under a 'bad sign', will the dark star that has followed them through life always make life this bad?    It certainly seems that way when they are taken hostage by a convicted murderer, Earl Sheridan - a mad, bad man with nothing to lose and who lets nothing get in his way.

And so follows a fast-paced story, as the fugitives set off across Texas, in the hope of finding their own Eldorado.
Earl Sheridan is possibly one of the meanest, psychopathic individuals that I have ever read about and it is these traits that are welcomed by one of the brothers.  Not for him, the horror of murder and torture and totally meaningless death, instead it sparks something inside him that reveals the darkness within and soon he too starts to cause his own kind of havoc - leaving a shocking trail of misery and in his wake.

The other brother finds himself caught up in a chase that he doesn't understand and is not really aware of whilst finding his first real friend of his life.

There were times when I just had to stop reading.  As much as I was desperate to know which way the story was going to turn next, the full-on details of some horrific murders, the sense of horror and the shock of some of the decisions made by the characters almost took away my breath, and stopping for breath was all I could do.

There are some scenes in Bad Signs that shock, yet none of them are unnecessary to the story, and despite the horror they just add more depth to the story.   This is no ordinary crime novel, this is a story of the evil that is hidden away inside some human beings and the depths that some people will go.  The characters are flawed inside but brilliantly portrayed.  The small-town image, the sleepy countryside, awoken by the terror that comes amongst them, and the unrelenting sense of not really knowing if justice will be done makes this another thrilling read from Ellory.

Who knows just where he will go to next?


  1. Great review Anne as always, sounds totally up my street

  2. Sounds good! I have Quiet Belief in Angels on my tbr but haven't gotten round to reading it yet! Might have to move it up the pile ...

  3. I have read quite a few of his books and this one sounds every bit as good. Will look out for it. I enjoyed City of Lies, but agree that Quiet Belief in Angels was good too.

  4. Anne, not sure your into the blog buttons you get but thought of you when I saw these

  5. Thanks Lainy! Those are great

  6. Ghostheart is my favourite R J book, Ive read them all, but Ghostheart is more of a girly read, (he sayes his wife agrees with that!) and now having read your review,I'm a bit aprehensive about Bad Signs! Have to read it though!!