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Amberville: A Novel Paperback – February 23, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Those with an appetite for the bizarre will best appreciate the pseudonymous Davys's offbeat debut, set entirely in a town inhabited by living, breathing stuffed animals. Everyone in Mollisan Town fears the Death List, the legendary roster of residents designated for pickup by the Chauffeurs, from whose red pickup truck no one returns. When word that mob boss Nicholas Dove (yes, a stuffed bird) has been placed on the list, he coerces Eric Bear into helping him escape his fate. Bear, who's put his shady past behind him and turned to a career in advertising, goes in search of answers. The backbiting and betrayal would certainly be at home in a conventional hard-boiled crime novel, but some readers may feel the premise's novelty wears thin after a while. Passages of clunky translation don't help ("From being a suspect rat who through her mere presence transformed the individuals around the conference table to normalcy, here she was in her right element"). (Feb. 24)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Once readers get past the idea of murderous, debauched stuffed animals, they will find an entertaining noir thriller in Amberville, filled with hidden identities, shifting loyalties, surprising twists, and a gritty, hard-edged tone worthy of Chandler or Hammett. The odd nature of the residents of Mollison Town doesn't impede Davys's deft characterizations, and unraveling the secrets of the city is half the fun of reading this imaginative novel. Though Amberville delves into "Orwellian satire" (Chicago Sun-Times) toward the end, with the chief target religion, Davys is careful never to let the plot lag. Aside from a rather clumsy translation, Amberville is a "delightful mystery-thriller" (San Francisco Chronicle).
Copyright 2009 Bookmarks Publishing LLC --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (February 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061625132
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061625138
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,088,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Anthony on August 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Recall the best book you have read this year. Fiction. Well plotted, good characters, etc. You thoroughly enjoyed it. Now, replace every character in that book with a stuffed bear. Does that in any way seem like it makes the book even better?

Now do the same thing, but only in this case it is not the best book you have ever read but a thoroughly below average myster/murder/thriller/horror/fill in the blank book. Would the inclusion of stuffed bears as characters interest you enough?

And here in lies the problem with Amberville. Stuffed bears are just not a compelling enough "hook" to overcome a mediocre story. In fact, stuffed bears actively contribute to the mediocrity. There is just nothing pleasant, interesting, fascinating, in reading about a "seedy" underworld of stuffed animals.

This may work in a visual medium - I am thinking Who Framed Roger Rabbit. And in someways, if the "toys" are used to highlight something or bring attention to things that would be missed using human characters only (The Indian in the Cupboard) it works. But simply having a murder/mystery with grimy bears does not.

All in all a book that tries to be different for the sake of being different - but in this case different is not better.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Griffin on November 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This highly imaginative story may be the most unusual book I've ever read. I'm not sure I even understand the whole thing. Set in an imaginary town where the streets are painted candy colors, living stuffed animals go about their lives. But this isn't a playful story. Eric Bear has been asked by gangster Nicholas Dove to find the "Death List" and take his name off of it. Eric enlists the help of his old cronies Tom-Tom Crow, Sam Gazelle, and Snake Marek. As Eric searches for the list, the story analyzes the dichotomies of reality vs. insanity, good vs. evil, church vs. state, with gangsters, drug users, and thieves as the doers of the deeds. The story weaves in and out of the players' lives, seemingly on-the-level, but surprises await. Not everyone is as they seem. This book will have you guessing until the very end, giving you some serious ponderings along the way.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By S. Michael Wilson on February 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Eric, now a grown man and a successful advertising executive, has been successful in putting his reckless and somewhat criminal youthful indiscretions behind him. At least, that's what he thought. But then the local kingpin he once worked for shows up with a non-negotiable proposition. Find the hit list that his name is rumored to be on, and remove it from the list. Otherwise, he will kill Eric's girlfriend. Now, Eric must get the old gang back together and track down the "Death List" at any cost.

A compelling and straight-forward plot. The big twist? Eric, the crime boss, and all of the other characters in the book are stuffed animals. They live in a world completely populated by stuffed animals, in which the young and old are delivered and taken away by pick-up trucks. It is definitely an interesting plot twist. But is it necessary?

The idea isn't completely original (The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, The Big Over Easy: A Nursery Crime, Meet the Feebles), but that doesn't mean it isn't good. It just means that the author might want to approach the concept from an original angle.

The author does, but he unfortunately decides to play it straight.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By cmp VINE VOICE on March 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was eagerly awaiting this Vine selection. I love mystery books, the premise sounded very, very intriguing, and it just looked like fun.

But the execution just isn't there for me. The language is great, the imagery works, but it just doesn't sell me. I expected, I guess, that the stuffed animal aspect would play into it more - some humor, a few tongue-in-cheek jokes, etc. Instead, this might strike me as a much better novel if the characters had been drawn as people in a fantasy society. The fact that the characters are stuffed animals, but without that idea being fully exploited, just serves to jar me and pull me out of the story.

I also started to feel that it was less noir mystery and more preachy philosophy, but then I don't like the switch to the first person point-of-view in the midst of a third-person narrative. The character doing the first-person POV is the preachy one, so maybe that's where the dislike is coming from.

I cannot argue that the author has constructed a very elaborate, interesting world using good storytelling, but I guess I expected more
humor or fun to the characters in that world. I really enjoy Eric Garcia's "Rex" novels - hard-boiled PI mysteries that also involve a fantasy situation. They are just more fun and even more believable to me, because the author realizes the absurdity. Plus, they don't have the preachiness that I was not so fond of.

I was interested by this book, but not entertained.
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