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A Simple Act of Violence: A Thriller Hardcover – June 9, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A beautifully written novel that is also a great mystery. (James Patterson)

The master of the genre. (Clive Cussler)

A police procedural thus shifts into a conspiracy thriller and historical exposé … Powerful scenes and vivid images. (Wall Street Journal)

About the Author

R.J. Ellory is the author of twelve novels, including the bestselling A Quiet Belief in Angels, which was Strand Magazine’s Thriller of the Year, shortlisted for the Barry Award, and a finalist for the SIBA Award. He is also the author of City of Lies, Candlemoth, A Quiet Vendetta, The Anniversary Man, A Simple Act of Violence, and the e-book original series Three Days in Chicagoland.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press; First Edition edition (June 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590203186
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590203187
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,830,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JMiller8200 on September 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
If you have not read R.J. Ellory you are in for a treat. Having read all of his books, I would say this is his best, followed closely by a Quite Vendetta. This book starts off a little slow, but the drama and intrigue build steadily to a very satisfying conclusion. This is a book you will not want to end.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I like it when authors reinvent themselves and no writer has done that with as much flair as R. J. Ellory. This book starts off like a typical, serial killer murder mystery. At a third of the way in, the book takes a dramatic turn, flipping everything upside down. I found this technique clever and exciting. The closest parallels, without giving anything away, that I can think of is it is that it is like reading an Alfred Hitchcock movie.
Ellory is such an interesting, and engaging writer that he could write about a chair and make it exciting. His style is has been so refined that his characters feel real. Each one has flaws and personality that helps drive the story. Detectives Miller and Roth also do a great job bring the reader into the story. They relate to the reader by being as lost and confused about the case as anyone reading the book. A Simple Act of Violence has a lot going for it because it excels at building action and suspense. It is the hallmarking a great career, so go get this book.

*Originally published for San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review*
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Format: Paperback
In R. J. Ellory's "A Simple Act of Violence," a homicide detective named Robert Miller is stuck with a case that may prove to be his undoing. It appears that a serial killer has been savagely beating and strangling female victims. However, Miller and his partner, Al Roth, are puzzled by facts that do not add up. For example, one of the deceased, Catherine Sheridan, was strangled and then beaten postmortem. Why? In addition, Sheridan's identity was a fake; she technically did not exist. Miller, who barely survived an Internal Affairs investigation that could have ended his career, once again risks losing his badge. He desperately tries to get a handle on a situation that he cannot even begin to understand.

Readers who enjoy police procedurals with a strong political slant might be tempted to give this one a try. They may even like the protagonist, Detective Miller, a stereotypical loner with no life outside of the job, but who is also an honest, decent, and persistent cop. Unfortunately, Ellory makes some poor choices: Far too many characters gratuitously overindulge in the use of profanity. In addition, at four-hundred-and forty-four pages, "A Simple Act of Violence" is tedious and rambling; the writing is bloated, repetitious, and heavy-handed. In case we don't get the message the first time, Ellory tells us again and again that there is a conspiracy afoot. Readers will be tempted to shout, "We get it already!"

The awkward dialogue is an occasional irritant. Here's an example: "There is no question of rightness or wrongness when it comes to the security of a nation." Yet another problem is the ineptitude of Miller and his colleagues, who are pitifully slow on the uptake.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This would be my second R.J. Ellory book and while he's not an easily accessible pulp fiction writer, the reward for plowing through the complexities of his plot lines has been worth the effort. I have to assume that some of the extremely negative reviews are, in part, because Ellory is one of those "evil liberal elites" who has been struck by the connection between reality and what the right wing calls "liberalism." A sideline in this book is the well-documented history of Reagan-Bush's involvement in financing international terrorism and domestic drug imports, especially the South American connection. If you are a Reagan re-constructionist, you probably won't like "A Simple Act of Violence," since it recalls the sordid history of Reagan's confusion with "the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers" and the gangsters he was providing with money and weapons.

The scene is Washington, D.C. during the Bush II years. The city is preoccupied with mid-term elections, and mildly distracted by a series of murders. Four middle class women are strangled, beaten, and tagged with the murderer's signature, plus one potential witness is murdered in a similar manner after she is unwillingly brought into the investigation. Detective Robert Miller and his partner are is assigned to the investigation and the further they get into the victims' backgrounds the more complex the investigation becomes; none of the victims officially exist. Stranger, even some of the police involved in the past events that are possibly linked to the murders appear to exist. Miller is dragged into a corrupt political world that begins to be a threat even to the Washington police.
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Format: Paperback
My favorite way for a book to start is with a dead body. But also..
Detective with a shady past and a loner's life? Check!
Possible serial killer on the loose in DC? Check!
Mystery surrounding the victims? Check!
Plethora of dead ends to make the reader's head spin? Check!
Eloquent and thought provoking writing? Check!
The United States funding a war in Nicaragua in the 1980s by importing cocaine? Did not see that one coming.

I bought this book on a whim. It came without a cover jacket and I refused to look up a summary, so I just dived in. The writing is marvelous- like butter. There is a double perspective that Ellory works with and it pays off in the end. The story moves at a fast pace, but manages to grab the details, the heart, and the frustration that the characters go through. This story is unique- I'm almost positive no one else has written anything similar as to what Ellory mastered in this one. But as an avid reader, surprises are the best part. It shouldn't be about what you want to read, but more about... simply reading.
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