Adam Bird

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Sunday, 12 October 2008

More than A Simple Act of Violence

Washington DC

Earlier this year I wrote about a book I had read, A Quiet Belief in Angels, by Roger Ellory and how, since then, I had purchased all his previous works and had been enchanted by the epic worlds his creations had surrounded me. Last week his sixth book, A Simple Act of Violence was released and I eagerly visited Waterstones to get my copy.

Roger Ellory doesn't write simple novels. They are vast in scope and character and although they share a similar theme, human nature, human relationships and the analysis of human behaviour against all odds, they are all vastly different.

The synopsis for A Simple Act of Violence, provided by Amazon:

"Washington, embroiled in the mid-term elections, did not want to hear about serial killings. But when the newspapers reported a fourth murder, when they gave the killer a name and details of his horrendous crimes, there were few people that could ignore it. Detective Robert Miller is assigned to the case. He and his partner begin the task of correlating and cross-referencing the details of each crime scene. Rapidly things begin to complicate. The victims do not officially exist. Their personal details do not register on any known systems. The harder Miller works, the less it makes sense. And as Miller unearths ever more disturbing facts, he starts to face truths so far-removed from his own reality that he begins to fear for his life. This is a novel about trust, loyalty, and beliefs that are so ingrained which, when challenged, they leave people with nothing. Vast in scope, A SIMPLE ACT OF VIOLENCE is an expose of the brutality of covert operations, the power of greed and the insidious nature of corruption. It is also a story of love and trust that somehow managed to survive the very worst that the world could throw at it."
A thriller novel, normally formulaic with the classic question of "Who did it?" concluding with a twist and the grand unveiling of the perpetrator by the novels chief protagonist. A Simple Act of Violence couldn't be further from the norm, and instead of "Who", we are as readers, left with an elusive answer to the question "Why?"

I don't particularly want to go too much into the "why", as I wouldn't want to spoil any potential readers journey of discovery, but I was left intrigued... Indeed I will, one night soon, be spending an evening with Google looking back at some of the events mentioned within the novel and gaining a further understanding of some of the historical context in which the book's foundations are built upon.

It must be remembered that this is a work of fiction, and the author has once again provided us with a story based upon fictitious characters, based upon selective real events in history and there is indeed nothing to suggest otherwise.

However, there is no smoke without fire and call it what you will, a conspiracy theory, or the revelation of fact, this novel isn't about the murder of a group of people, it is about human history and how effectively we are all puppets upon strings and those in power act as our puppet masters, often with catastrophic effects.

Ultimately, the beauty of a good novel often lays after you have closed the back cover and you have finished the journey the author wished to take you upon. It lingers, stays in the mind and leaves you asking questions, or leaves you wanting more.

Normally I finish a book on the way home from work and start afresh with a new one the following night. I finished A Simple Act of Violence on Wednesday and haven't yet been able to pick up a new book and get past the first page.

A Quiet Belief in Angels left me dreamy and longing to visit a place that only existed in one man's mind. A Quiet Vendetta, my personal favourite left me missing someone who I felt was a long lost friend, whom I wanted too write to and invite around the house to reminisce about days gone by.

With A Simple Act of Violence I was left wondering about us, as people. It may just be coincidence with the current state of world affairs, and how the fact that we can spend our days working hard and yet our fates lie within the hands of bankers and politicians. Do we really hold our destiny in our own hands, and if not, what can we really do about it?

If drawing a response from your audience is the benchmark in which an author wishes to be judged, then Ellory is guilty as charged in this particular case. Don't take my word for it, there are plenty of people available on Amazon whom have also felt compelled to write glowing praise for a supremely talented author.

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