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Candlemoth: A Thriller [Kindle Edition]

R.J. Ellory
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.95
Kindle Price: $10.99
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Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

With the verve and gift for gripping storytelling that made his previous books international bestsellers, R.J. Ellory returns with a dramatic saga of murder and retribution, set in the tumultuous 1960s. Daniel Ford and Nathan Verney were six years old when they first met by a South Carolina lake and became best friends against all odds—Daniel was white, and Nathan was black. Thirty years later, Daniel is convicted of Nathan’s murder, and he now faces the long, lonely walk to the electric chair. With time running out until his execution, Daniel tells a sympathetic priest his story, sweeping through first loves, Vietnam, and, finally, the pair’s flight from the draft, which ended in Nathan's brutal murder. A powerful vision of the American South in an age of upheaval, Candlemoth is a stunning suspense novel—and an unforgettable tale of lost friendship.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

It’s 1982, and Daniel Ford is just weeks away from execution for the murder of his best friend. Although innocent, he barely refuted the charge and hasn’t fully told his story until now, to his priest counselor. Daniel begins his story in Greenleaf, South Carolina, where he and Nathan Verney crossed the racial divide of the 1960s to become unlikely best friends. Alternating rapid-fire historical context (both confirmed and alleged) with the pair’s story, Ellory constructs a virtual cliff from which they plummet after Nathan is drafted into the Vietnam War, and Daniel joins him on the dodge. Heading south instead of the expected route, toward the Canadian border, they confront steady doses of racial hatred but remain relatively unscathed until they return to Greenleaf, where mutual intoxication with a powerful politician’s daughter results in murder. The foreshadowing is frustratingly heavy at times, but the storytelling’s beckoning quality and the conclusion’s welcome twist easily bury such grievances. Englishman Ellory convincingly disproves the belief of many that southern writing can’t be convincingly mimicked. For fans of Tom Franklin, John Hart, and, remarkably, even Pat Conroy. --Christine Tran


Praise for R. J. Ellory:

"A beautifully written novel that is also a great mystery." --James Patterson

"The master of the genre." --Clive Cussler

"A rich, powerful, evocative novel of great psychological depth." --Jonathan Kellerman

Product Details

  • File Size: 480 KB
  • Print Length: 402 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0752859145
  • Publisher: Overlook Books; Reprint edition (April 4, 2013)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #654,800 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a great first book June 11, 2008
I recently read "A Quiet Belief In Angels" and became interested in RJ Ellory's style of writing. That prompted me to purchase Candlemoth and I'm glad that I bought this book. As Ellory's first published book, the story is tight, holds together well and, with the subject being someone on Death Row, raises many interesting questions regarding the treatment of prisoners awaiting execution.

His insights into the thought processes and personality traits of the main character, Daniel, really get your emotions rising and falling as Daniel remembers events leading up to his incarceration and then as Daniel faces his final few days.

This is more of a why-did-it than a who-done-it but your emotions get tugged in all directions along the way. RJ Ellory also manages to get you thinking seriously about what motivates people and why people make certain life choices.

A great first book and a great read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific! August 3, 2008
'Four times I've been betrayed - twice by women, once by a better friend than any man might wish for, and lastly by a nation..'

36 year old Daniel Ford, a convicted murderer is on death row for the murder of his best friend Nathan. With thirty six days before he faces the electric chair piece by piece he relates his lifestory to the Prison Chaplin Father Rousseau. His story starts in rural North Carolina when in 1952, at six years old he meets Nathan and the two boys (one born white the other black) become best friends, their friendship lasting until Nathan's brutal murder 20 years later.

I really loved this. It was enthralling, with well drawn characters and covered the history of the period, the racism, political corruption and deaths of Martin Luther King and Kennedy well in an informative way without being boring.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Power Play March 8, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Roger Ellory's books are as individual, as complex as the man himself. And as varied as any man can be. What they have in common is that they are utterly immersive; they pull in the reader to the point at which other worldly distractions fade away as the story demands all available spare attention.
The plot description is here already, so no point in repeating it. What the plot description does not reveal is the sheer power and intensity of the writing, and hence the reading experience. Candlemoth is one of those rare works which you wish would last for ever, but at the same time you need it to end soon, so that you can understand how the players are as they are, and how they end.
There is history everywhere, because this is an American history novel. There are conspiracy theories galore, because this is a story of conspiracy. There are betrayals, and love, because this is a novel of love and betrayal. Most of all there is endless humanity; Ellory has produced characters impossible to ignore, and as alive as only the best fictional folk can be.
Do yourself a favour. Allow a couple of hours when you start reading Candlemoth, so that you can allow yourself to fold into the alien world of 1960s southern USA. This is not a book for dipping into in TV commercial breaks. It's funny, sad, gritty and tiring. Rewarding, too. Loved it, me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
CANDLEMOTH is R.J. Ellory's fifth novel published in the US, but a decade ago his first of 11 in Europe. Each standalone is epic, cinematic in scope, and spans decades of characters' lives that often involve political corruption. This one is a metaphoric tale of America's consummate glory days and moral decay resulting from racial intolerance, assassinations of the Kennedys and King, and the Vietnam War, when "America felt like a clenched fist, a seized heart."

The publisher's comparisons to THE GREEN MILE relate only to Daniel Ford's prison life, the mechanical aspects. Ford is the symbolic vehicle in this complex, terrifying tapestry of respect and honor. He's on death row, convicted of slaughtering his best friend since 1952. At age six, "I met Nathan Verney at the edge of Lake Marion outside of Greenleaf, South Carolina." That improbable friendship causes racially motivated onslaughts against them throughout their lives.

In 1982, "two floors up from Hell," Ford narrates to prison priest John Rousseau events that led to his conviction for murdering Verney, an uncontested sentence. Ford recalls a host of people who influenced his life. Despite experiencing racial atrocities that only fused their friendship, and knowing he's days away from execution, Ford feels "there is some universal balance present in all things." Verney's father believes his innocence.

Rumored to be a witch, Eve Chantry tells childhood Ford, nocturnal "moths are attracted to light because they wish to be seen." The interracial young friends come to trust Eve and gain valuable insight. They learn what they've been told by prejudiced villagers is false, a lesson not yet appreciated by many in today's society.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything ties together. August 8, 2013
"Candlemoth" was R.J. Ellory's first novel, published in 2003 in the U.K. This is its first release in the United States. Since originally publishing "Candlemoth," Ellory has gone on to become an international bestseller.

"Candlemoth" is set in the American South, which is an interesting choice for a debut novel from an Englishman. Ellory did his research weaving the story of death-row convict Daniel Ford with the events that have taken place over the past 50 turbulent years in the U.S. From reading the book, I'd say Ellory probably knows more about American history than most Americans.

History, though, is not what the story is about. It's about Ford's death-row conviction related to the death of Ford's best friend, Nathan. With the execution date only 30 days away, Ford begins to relive how he got to where he was. It is a story of friendship, betrayal, prejudice, and coming of age. It is a story of murder and the meaning of justice. The central question I had running throughout, of course, was more personal: did Ford really brutally behead his best friend Nathan or was something going to twist in the end? You'll have to wait until the very end for that answer.

What I loved best about "Candlemoth" is how everything ties together. Historical references are made for which there seems to be no relation to the story, conspiracy theories are introduced that, while interesting, don't seem to have anything to do with anything. And then, it all blends together and makes sense in a story that is tight, suspenseful, and - most importantly - human. This book is a great start for what has already become a brilliant career.

- Clay Stafford is an author / filmmaker ([...] and founder of Killer Nashville ([...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Boring, long-winded...
Tedious prose. Weak, ineffectual main character. Quite frankly, wished the character would be summarily executed. I skip read the last 50% of the book just to get to the end.
Published 2 months ago by Sharon Murray
5.0 out of 5 stars It was a delight to read this book ans tout be with the ...
It was a delight to read this book ans tout be with the main personnage aller along his despair ans thought.
Published 3 months ago by Carole Delage Papineau
5.0 out of 5 stars This was an excellent read. Not so much a mystery, as a character...
Highly recommend this for anyone interested in the civil rights movement, and growing up in the 60's. Throw in a good conspiracy theory for good measure.
Published 10 months ago by Bill Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss Candlemoth
This book is an exciting page turner that will keep you reading into the middle of the night. You may lose some sleep but it is worth it.
Published 16 months ago by Pablo P
2.0 out of 5 stars LOTS of 'had' errors
By R.J. Ellory.

If you're interested in The 'Had' Problem, read Candlemoth and watch the 'had's go by. It is riddled with 'had' errors. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Brad Johnston
5.0 out of 5 stars human fraility in all its glory
this book takes you deep inside the human spirit .its tragic 'haunting' brutal and ultimately redeeming.every possible emotion is here whichwithin these pages . Read more
Published 21 months ago by John Houraghan
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterfully written "time capsule"
CANDLEMOTH is R.J. Ellory's fifth novel published in the US, but a decade ago was his first of 11 in Europe. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Bookreporter
3.0 out of 5 stars Try a better Ellory
Not his best book. But its a good read. Go for its a "A quiet vendetta" and you will be riveted.
Published 21 months ago by Linda M Rink
5.0 out of 5 stars strong "memoir" fiction
In 1982 as he sits on Death Row in South Carolina's Sumter Penitentiary with thirty days left before his execution for murdering his best friend Nathan Verney, thirty six year old... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Harriet Klausner
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow
A drama,a thriller with the history of our generation as a background.Beaitiful book with a message to be ourself
Not a candlemoth
Published on December 20, 2012 by nanadan
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More About the Author

Roger Jon Ellory was born in Birmingham, England, June 20th 1965 at Sorento Hospital. The hospital has now been demolished. There is no direct evidence that the two events were linked.

His father having already left before Roger was born, he was then orphaned at the age of seven. His mother, Carole - an actress and dancer - died as a result of a pneumonia epidemic that claimed more than a dozen victims in the early 1970s. In 1973 Roger was swiftly despatched to a boarding school and stayed there until he was sixteen. Upon leaving school he returned to Birmingham to live with his maternal grandmother. His grandfather had already drowned off the Gower Peninsula in the south of Wales in 1957. In April of 1982 Roger's grandmother died following a number of heart attacks.

At seventeen years of age he was arrested for poaching. He was charged, tried, and sentenced to a jail term which he served without causing too much trouble. Upon his release he vanished quietly into relative obscurity to pursue interests in graphic design, photography and music. As a guitar player in a band called 'The Manta Rays' he was partly responsible for their reputation as the loudest band south of Manchester and north of London. Following the untimely death of their drummer, Roger quit the music scene and devoted himself to studying obscure philosophies and reading. Through the complete works of Conan Doyle, Michael Moorcock, JRR Tolkien, numerous books by Stephen King and many others, his interest in fiction steadily grew, not only from the viewpoint of a reader, but a burgeoning interest as a writer.

Roger began his first novel on November 4th, 1987 and did not stop, except for three days when he was going through a divorce from his first wife, until July of 1993. During this time he completed twenty-two novels, most of them in longhand, and accumulated several hundred polite and complimentary rejection letters from many different and varied publishers. The standard response from the UK publishing trade was that they could not consider the possibility of publishing books based in the United States written by an Englishman. He was advised to send his work to American publishers, which he duly did, and received from them equally polite and complimentary rejection letters that said it was not possible for American publishers to publish books set in the US written by an Englishman. Roger stopped writing out of sheer frustration and did not start again until August 2001. One of his agents became an author, another retired from representation and moved abroad, the last one just stopped writing and calling.

In 2001 Roger took an office-based job for the first time in his life. He was shown how to use a computer, how to create a word document, and decided to use his lunch hours to start writing again. Between August 2001 and January 2002 he wrote three books, the second of which was called Candlemoth. This was purchased by Orion and published in 2003. How and why it was published is another story entirely, which if you ever go to one of Roger's events he will tell you! Candlemoth was translated into German, Dutch and Italian, and has now also been purchased for translation into Swedish, French and several other languages.

As of 2012, RJ Ellory had published ten novels, the most recent entitled A Dark and Broken Heart. Candlemoth, his first-published, was shortlisted for the CWA Steel Dagger, as was his fourth, City of Lies, in 2006. His fifth novel, A Quiet Belief In Angels was a Richard & Judy Book Club selection in 2007, and went on to win the Livre De Poche Award, The Strand Magazine Novel of The Year, The Mystery Booksellers of America Award, and the Inaugural Nouvel Observateur Prize. A Quiet Vendetta won the Quebec Laureat and the Villeneuve Readers' Prize. A Simple Act of Violence, Ellory's sixth novel, won the UK Crime Novel of the Year 2010. He has been nominated for a further seven international awards including three Barrys, the 813 Trophy, and the Europeen Du Point. He has also written the screenplay of A Quiet Belief In Angels for Oscar-winning director, Olivier Dahan. His books are now available in twenty-four languages. He is published in the USA by Overlook Press, and they have released 'A Quiet Belief In Angels' (2009), 'The Anniversary Man' (2010), 'A Simple Act of Violence' (June 2011), 'A Quiet Vendetta' (January of 2012), and will be releasing 'Candlemoth' in the spring of 2013. All of Ellory's works will be released by Overlook Press in the foreseeable future. He is also the singer and guitar player of the band, 'The Whiskey Poets'.

On numerous occasions people have tried to identify Roger's work with a particular genre - crime, thriller, historical fiction - but this categorisation has been a relatively fruitless endeavour. Roger's ethos is merely to work towards producing a good story, something that encapsulates elements of humanity and life without necessarily slotting into a predetermined pigeonhole. He attempts to produce an average of forty thousand words a month, and aims to get a first draft completed within three to four months. His wife thinks he is a workaholic, his son considers him slightly left-of-centre, but they put up with him regardless. His son has long since been aware of the fact that 'dad' buys stuff, and thus his idiosyncrasies should be tolerated.

Roger doesn't read anywhere enough books, doesn't watch enough movies, and keeps trying to remedy these omissions. To date he has routinely failed.

Recently he read a book called 'How Not To Write A Novel' by David Armstrong. His favourite quote from this book went along the lines of 'The harder you work the luckier you get'. He agrees with this principle, and thus has no intention of retiring from anything, ever.

He's just going to keep on writing, and he hopes people keep on reading, and now there are people showing up to readings and signings that he has never met before, he feels that his purpose as a writer is at last being accomplished.

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