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Ravens Hardcover – July 15, 2009

61 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Soon after Mitch and Patsy Boatwright, two down-home one-step-above-poor-white Georgians, win the $318 million Max-a-Million jackpot in this stellar thriller from bestseller Green (The Juror), they receive two unwelcome visitors—Shaw McBride and Romeo Zderko, who are fleeing nowhere techie jobs in Ohio for a never-never Florida dream. Shaw, the brains, and Romeo, his half-unwilling brawny pawn, threaten to kill the Boatwrights' loved ones unless the couple agree to hand over half their winnings. Through rapidly shifting points of view, especially the clear eyes of daughter Tara Boatwright, a community college student, Green frighteningly and unequivocally shows how victims can come to adore their tormentors, amid a mix of madness, fear, isolation, greed and delusions of power and glory. This exquisite novel of psychological suspense builds to a devastating resolution that will leave readers with the cold shudders for a long time afterward. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Shaw and Romeo, friends from grade school to their present-day labors in dead-end tech-support jobs, are headed for a Florida vacation. In a Georgia convenience store, Shaw learns from a clerk that a local family purchased a lottery ticket worth $318 million, and he hatches a plan to get half of it. His plan is simple: Shaw takes the family “hostage” by telling them that Romeo is driving around their small city, ready to murder their loved ones if they don’t support the ruse that Shaw is due half the winnings. As news of the family’s big win spreads, crowds throng around the house, and the terror inside it grows. Green, the author of the acclaimed The Caveman’s Valentine (2000), is skilled at psychological suspense. More than half a dozen major characters are fully developed, and their evolving reactions to their situations and to other characters are sure to engage readers who like to feel the narrative screws tightening. --Thomas Gaughan

Read an Excerpt
Read the first chapter of George Dawes Green's Ravens [PDF].

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (July 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446538965
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446538961
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,471,168 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Eric Wilson on October 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"Ravens" offers a stark cover, an ominous title, and an interesting premise--all of this bolstered by sterling words from Publishers Weekly and respected authors. I'd never read a book by this writer before, but I was drawn in quickly by the moody prose that is reminiscent of Joe Hill's "Heart Shaped Box," both in tone and characterization.

Shaw and Romeo are two drifters, friends from way back, who happen upon a chance of a lifetime when they get the inside scoop on a family who's recently won a monster lottery jackpot. They swoop in, raven-like, to claim half by coercing the unsuspecting family through threats against their immediate loved ones. I settled in for psychological suspense and tense pacing, only to find myself slipping into disbelief. How could these bumbling criminals pull this off? How could this family fail to make any intelligent efforts to free themselves? Yes, there's a whole messiah-like complex that begins to evolve around Shaw, but even that is built on a stereotype of Bible Belt religious wackos that tries to be Jim Jones like in one scene and devil-may-care in the next.

The characters are deftly drawn, the dialogue superlative, and the settings rich in detail. However, the endorsers' warnings of "cold shudders" and a "devastating" conclusion all failed to pan out, and in the end I wondered who was supposed to get the payoff here? How could an editor fail to help such a talented author turn these puzzle pieces into a truly thrilling, truly moving story. I, for one, was left feeling cheated.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Thriller Lover VINE VOICE on September 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
RAVENS is George Dawes Green's first novel in fourteen years, and it qualifies a moderate disappointment. While the book has some strong points, it contains some severe flaws that hampered my enjoyment of it.

The storyline of RAVENS is pretty simple. A working class Southern family hits the lottery, and a pair of would-be criminals demand half their winnings. If the family doesn't meet their demands, the criminals threaten to kill them and others close to them.

Not a bad idea for a suspense thriller, but Green doesn't spend enough time fleshing out his plotline. Events occur in a forced manner without much build-up or explanation. The result is a rather sketchy tale that I ultimately found unbelievable and half-baked.

On the plus side, RAVENS does contain two very well developed characters, most notably the reluctant criminal Romeo Zderko and the lovelorn cop Burris. The scenes involving these two men are very enjoyable to read -- they are both fully defined characters whom I found quite compelling.

But there are about ten other key characters in this novel who are not nearly as well fleshed out. Many of them are portrayed as little more than white trash stereotypes -- unlikable and borderline stupid. Unfortunately, these characters dominate a big part of RAVENS, which make large sections of the novel quite expasperating to read.

Ultimately I think you can do better than this book. If you want to read a gritty crime novel about greed and hoplessness in a small town setting, my advice is to instead read A SIMPLE PLAN by Scott Smith or THE ICE HARVEST by Scott Phillips. They are far better plotted and have better fleshed out characters than what I found in RAVENS.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By emmejay VINE VOICE on August 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"Romeo was driving down from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the baffling twilight, going too fast, when a raccoon or possum ran in front of the car. The impact was disturbingly gentle. No thud -- just a soft unzipping, beneath the chassis. ..."

So begins RAVENS, the premise of which I knew going in: Romeo and Shaw, en route to Florida from their tech-support jobs in Ohio, stop in Georgia and decide to co-opt half of a huge lottery prize from the winners. But what *surprised* me was that the opening paragraph concludes by painting the villains as likeable ("...Still, it tore at Romeo's heart. He braked and pulled over") and, further down the page, as smart and playful. And what *hooked* me were the next few pages, where I developed an intriguing dislike for the "good guys" -- the lottery-winning Boatwright family.

The novel's strength is its ability to hold me in that incongruence. It also held me in a state of suspended disbelief -- after all, who'd believe that the winners of $318 million would acquiesce when a couple strangers announce they're taking half? Yet every time I wondered about the believability of characters' actions, George Dawes Green showed me their motivations and brought me back in. It's a fun, comic novel (not all of it dark comedy), populated by an entertaining ensemble of small-town characters; subplots and twists that are well earned; and suspense that is more compelling (inquisitive; page-turning) than scary. Recommended!
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By "switterbug" Betsey Van Horn TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a riveting, comic-creepy, contemporary tale that tingles up and down your spine. Subversive, menacing, and riotously perverse, Ravens pairs and expands the concept of Stockholm Syndrome with the messiah complex while turning it on its head. Two men seize an opportunity to secretly hold a family hostage for half of a winning 312 million-dollar lottery ticket, captivating an entire town into believing that it has its own savior.

In the grim and grey, blue-collar, Bible-Belt town of Brunswick, Georgia, the grim and grey Boatwrights have miraculously won the Max-A-Million lottery. Mitch Boatwright, the timorous, Scripture-bound head of the family, together with his shrewish, alcoholic wife, Patsy, live with their two children in disturbing disquiet. Believing that the jackpot is their chance to marry happiness, Mitch and Patsy swear their family to secrecy, not wanting to divulge their winnings right away to the community.

The two swindlers, Shaw and Romeo, are traveling through from Piqua, Ohio. Shaw stops at the service station where the winning ticket was sold, and with the combination of right time and right place, learns of the big-ticket win. He subsequently hatches a scheme to extort half of the money from the Boatwrights, luring Romeo reluctantly into the deal. Preying on the willing vulnerabilities of Brunswick's citizens and the chronic turmoil of the Boatwrights, Shaw swoops in and frightens the family into cooperating with his plan.

The prose bewitches with a heinous, acid crackle that horrifies but seduces you. Shaw's outrageous gall is convincing in dissembling a town into cult worship, paying homage to Michael Valentine Smith in
...Read more ›
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