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Mr. Shivers Hardcover – January 15, 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2010: With his debut novel, Mr. Shivers, Southern writer Robert Jackson Bennett presents a pulpy, Great Depression horror story where a mysterious killer "trails death behind him." After his daughter is brutally murdered, a revenge-seeking Marcus Connelly leaves Memphis on a hunt across America's hobo camps and ghost towns for the grotesquely scarred, ghostly figure known as "Mr. Shivers." On his quest Connelly teams up with a scrappy band of hobos recovering from their own brushes with "the gray man," and the body count increases as they ride the rails tracking their target. Connelly's spiraling bloodlust begins to rival Shivers's, threatening to take more than just his family and friends away from him. Sprinkled with hobo folklore, Bennett's supernatural dust storm of a debut offers a killer premise and may remind readers of vintage Stephen King. --Brad Thomas Parsons

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Set during the Great Depression and reading like a collaboration between Stephen King and John Steinbeck, this remarkably assured first novel relates a good man's desperate travels through the ruins of the American heartland on the trail of his child's murderer. As he tracks the eponymous fiend, Marcus Connelly discovers that he's not the only person whose life the killer has ruined. The Dust Bowl refugees pursuing Mr. Shivers gradually realize that he embodies an elemental force of destruction, and they begin sacrificing their own humanity for the sake of vengeance. The everyday horrors of a deserted, drought-blighted countryside are interrupted by frightening dreams and fragments of disturbing superstitions as Bennett's characters try to articulate what's happening and imagine a way back home. Bennett makes dark fantasy feel like gritty realism, achieving a rare laconic eloquence that will captivate horror readers hungry for new voices. (Feb.)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; First Edition edition (January 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780316054683
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316054683
  • ASIN: 0316054682
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,752,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Mr Shiver's has many names, most call him death.

This novel follows Connelly, a ruffian hobo, as he pursues Mr Shivers the murderer who killed his daughter. The book is set in depression age America, and very much feels like the TV series Carnivale, so if you're a fan then this book is a must read.

The initial setting of Mr Shivers is very powerful, we can almost feel the grime and desperation of the characters and the mystery of Mr Shivers is absolutely wicked.

There are a couple of shortfalls, the supernatural development of the story is potentially a bit alternative for many readers (judging from other reviews) considering that the direction of the novel is fairly open at the beginning. Like I said I'm sure the author was inspired by the show Carnivale so expect symbolism and grand scale ideas hidden in downtrodden characters in small scale situations.

The side character are also a little weak, they are just interesting enough to keep the story moving, but one find themselves uncompelled by anyone other than our main man Connelly.

The prose is well balanced, the author uses skillful language without loosing clarity and the setting and action of the novel is just so seamless its worth a read. I particularily like the use of rumour to enhance the mystery.

Extremely recommended
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Bennett's Mr. Shivers is a fantastic blend of a murder mystery, an historical novel, a surreal travelogue,a journey into the darkest corners of one's soul, and a supernatural thriller. The various scenes and characters blend in and out, and the reader rides into and out of 'real' scenes, dream sequences, allegorical encounters, the underworld, heaven and hell, all often without knowing it until in the middle of them; it's fascinating, and really well done.

Throughout, Bennett's Depression-era characters, scenery and burnt-out lives throb with life, desperation, and conflicting agendas. His dialogue is crisp and well-done, iconography thoughtful and deep, his motivations compelling. The story can sometimes be touching, or alternatively shock with sudden and explosive violence.

As the story moves from a quasi-conventional beginning through a series of scenes loaded with hints, doubts and bits of foreshadowing, and moves to a more ambiguous morality tale, and finally becomes downright surreal and supernatural, it picks up speed, urgency, and becomes a seriously bumpy ride. The author has crafted a really well done work.

To say much more would be to give away important parts of the book; but this reviewer can that it is an engaging, thoughtful, and thoroughly thrilling novel, unconventional and deep.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I must admit that when I initially dug into Robert Jackson Bennett's debut "Mr. Shivers," I thought I had uncovered a winner. With its intriguing premise and set-up, I looked forward to seeing this story unfold with moral complexity, insight, and building tension. Set in Depression era America, "Mr. Shivers" chronicles the travels of a vagabond known simply as Connelly. Connelly's life unraveled when a murderer took the life of his only child. Desperate for closure and resolution, he has taken to the rails--moving from shanty town to shanty town in pursuit of the killer. On the road, he meets other vagrants whose lives have also been unsettled by the mysterious stranger known only by the alias of Mr. Shivers.

I loved the setting of "Mr. Shivers!" The idea of a mass murderer stalking the homeless camps and wreaking evil on a nation that is already suffering so much seemed a perfect jumping off point. But as I continued to read, I felt that Bennett missed many of the weighty and relevant issues that might have naturally flowed from this premise. Debating the nature of evil and how far a good man will go for justice, especially at a time when people are being forced to compromise their values, might have given the story some resonance. But as Connelly bands together with the others and they commiserate in the horrors that Mr. Shivers has perpetrated, something is just missing. And as I had hoped to know and be invested in the characters, they are never fleshed out as real people.

Bennett's interpretation of "evil" becomes more and more mythological (and literal) as the novel progresses and moves further and further into the realm of the supernatural.
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Format: Hardcover
Marcus Connelly's young daughter has been murdered. His marriage has fallen apart. With his life a shambles, he wanders the hard roads of the Great Depression with only one thing in mind: kill the man who killed his little girl. Connelly soon finds that he is not the only one who hates the so-called Mr. Shivers. Eventually he will discover that everything he believed about the entire situation may be dangerously wrong, and that his quest is going to be a lot more complicated than he thought.

I don't normally care for books set in the Depression. Too many authors plop a story there with no particular reason for it to be there, and often to the detriment of the story they are telling. This story belongs in the Depression. The author makes the reader smell the dust, feel the drought, and understand the danger and desperation of very hard times. Parallels can be drawn with today's times but the author leaves that to the reader and does not labor the point. This author is a promising young writer. I was impressed with his sleek writing and control of a complex story with dark themes. As I read this it occurred to me that this is the book that Neil Gaiman's 'American Gods' was trying to be, with a much harder edge and in nearly 200 fewer pages. If you belong to a book group you could do a lot worse than to read and compare the two novels.
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