Who is the mysterious Catherine Sheridan and why was she murdered? This masterful and unique novel is anything but what the title so teasingly suggests. A Simple Act of Violence breaks new ground as a hybrid novel of stunning depth and nuanced complexity, provoking questions that will have you wondering at the very nature of morality itself.
What starts as a murder investigation for cops Robert Miller & Al Roth quickly turns into a hunt for a vicious serial killer, but the hunt for the ‘Ribbon Killer’ raises more questions than it answers and pretty soon Detective Miller is delving solo, into a byzantine world of political intrigue that threatens to destroy both him and his career
As usual R.J.’s deliciously enticing prose is hard-hitting and deeply suspenseful. He engages the reader with poetic flourishes and a philosophical undertow that questions not only the Kafkaesque nature of US covert operations, but also the moral code of those who govern us.
The philosophical heart of this book is adapted from a popular French term: Sacred Monsters, whereby we are responsible for creating something that ultimately becomes our undoing. For the cop Miller, this Sacred Monster is his compulsion to seek the truth, even if it means his own destruction. For Miller’s mysterious nemesis the Sacred Monster involves countless acts of murder, sanctioned in the name of justice and the higher ideals of government.
Stylistically, we get a third person police procedural, that weaves hypnotically with a mysterious and disturbing first person voice, that could almost be the voice of our own consciousness. When these two worlds collide there is a cataclysm of Shakespearean proportions, most appropriate—as Ellory hails from the great bards home turf, although with his masterful grasp of Americana and the American crime milieu you would never know.
Certain naughty treats do however give the author away—did Mr. Ellory seriously think we would miss the fleeting appearance of 2000AD’s goon squad killers Sinister and Dexter? Not on Crimezine’s watch bucko, we are personal friends with the Mighty Tharg.
Although the story seems to move in real time, it has a cinematic vibe that just aches for big screen accolades. Hollyweird will get wise to the Elloryian vibe in it’s owns sweet-time, meanwhile you can catch the buzz on the ground floor—or as Crimezine always prefers—the lingerie department.
Already an award winning UK novelist with great acclaim in his native Europe, R.J Ellory is aching to make the leap into major league success in America. He now has a body of work that will facilitate this transition: Each story different, yet possessing the same unique voice. Each story a masterpiece of nuanced and individualistic storytelling. Crimezine thinks A Simple Act of Violence is his masterwork. So if you like big budget crime thrills and a masterful level of suspense, this is the book for you. Tell ’em we sent you Crimeziners.