The structure of the Roth Trilogy is unusual in that it is composed of interlocking stories but each novel is self-contained and may be read independently of the others. The first novel, The Four Last Things, is set in the 1990s. The second, The Judgement Of Strangers, moves back to 1970, and the third, The Office Of The Dead, to 1958.
Little Lucy Appleyard is snatched from her child minder's on a cold winter afternoon, and the nightmare begins. It is as if the child had disappeared into a black hole with no clues to her whereabouts...until the first grisly discovery in a London graveyard. More such finds are to follow, all at religious sites. In a city haunted by religion, what do these offerings signify?
©1997 Andrew Taylor; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
This is a very exciting and psychologically complex conclusion to Andrew Taylor's trilogy of loosely interconnecting stories. While it is true that each book stands alone your experience will be much enriched if you start with 'The Office of the Dead', followed by 'Judgement of Strangers' and finish with 'Four Last Things'. I felt that the pace and excitement of the narrative builds up across the three books as the threads of the lives of the different characters, who straddle the three books, intersect with extraordinary consequences.
I enjoy psychological thrillers, and I was looking forward to following this set of three in reverse chronological order, as intended by the author, but I won't be bothering with the other two. The characterisation was poor, especially the vicar,Sally Appleyard, who didn't lose her faith, in my opinion, because there was never any evidence that she had any to begin with. The others were stereotypes, - A Strange Young Man, a policeman who is the Strong, Silent Type, a Bitter Male Vicar who is against women priests, and a female villain who doesn't so much change her identity as lose it all together.
The whole book was slow and dreary, with no contrast between any of the characters or events.
I stuck with it, in the hope that it might get somewhere, but it didn't, and at the end I was left exclaiming "Is that it?"
Can I recommend instead "At the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness" which was moving, entertaining, and completely unselfconscious.
Creepy, true, but also a great story. Each character is so well developed. And the narrator is fantastic. I really liked it and can't wait to listen to the next book by Andrew Taylor.
"A facinating look at an ugly subject"
This is my first book review. My decision to finally get involved in passing on my opinion on this book is prompted by the other reviewer’s comments on the quality of the writing and more particularly the purported graphic content of this book and the ugliness of its portrayal.
I would suggest that there is no way that an author can portray the essential brutality of child abduction in an enjoyably way. Rather as this author conveys it is heart wrenching and we would hope that the cruelty of the act it’s self is beyond the pail of normal human behaviour.
There is in-fact very little gore. However the author does delve into the deviant mind of what we assume to be a paedophilic character. The author does not sanction his characters behaviour by indulging in the lurid sensationalism one would find in Pulp Fiction. Much in this book is left to the imagination.
I will purchase the other books in this series. As I’m interested in seeing how this series extends backwards in time casting light on the routs of child abuse.
For the reality of child abduction, I suggest that the reviewer, who rated this book so poorly, reads or listens to ‘The Jigsaw Man’ the autobiography of Paul Britton. Particularly focus on the Jamie Bulger abduction for a real portrayal of the ugly side of human nature.
First of all, the narrator badly needed to be equalized. It was like he muttered under his breath half the time, which is audible when wearing noise-cancelling headphones, but anything else -- and especially in a car -- you had to keep moving the volume control up and down.
Second of all, the only developed character was one of the two antagonists. The parts of the book done in the voice of the protagonist were whiny, repetitive, and annoying. And, is this supposed to be part of a series? because when aspects of the story did get interesting (e.g., backstory on the husband and his godfather and the second antagonist), those tantalizing bits never did get resolved.
All in all, a disappointing book.
"Well Read - I just didn't like the book."
I'm not a squeamish person, I like blood and gore in the right setting (for instance, one of my favorite movies is Pulp Fiction), but this story of child abduction and molestation just was not enjoyable in any way.
I have read other books with similar settings, and they treated the situation in a way that made it suspenseful without being ugly. For some reason, this book was ugly.
None of the characters were very likeable. The child was nice, but never really fleshed out enough. All the other characters, even the protagonists, were just cardboard cutouts.
The writer tried to give each a complex personality, but their failings made them look not more human, but simply stupid, selfish and ignorant.
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