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The Death You Deserve: A Novel Paperback – June 2, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: Rawhead (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1st edition (June 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312311788
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312311780
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,120,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bowker concocts a heady blend of satire and action in his U.S. debut about British mobsters and a writer who gets caught in their web. Billy Dye gets his big break after writing a magazine feature on Manchester crime kingpin Malcolm Priest. Dye's editor had transformed his serious article about the gangster's brutality into a puff piece on Priest's charitable side, and Priest so enjoys the fawning article that he asks Dye to write his biography. But the irreverent Dye does not endear himself to Priest, and it's not long before the kingpin hires a hitman to kill him. Luckily, that hitman turns out to be a childhood friend of Dye's named Steve Ellis, now known in professional circles as "Rawhead." He decides to hide Dye and save him from Priest's assassination attempts, but Dye sorely tries Rawhead's patience by making an ill-advised effort to contact a cop friend, who then becomes one of Priest's victims. Bowker spices up the subsequent mano a mano struggle between Priest and Rawhead with a few savvy, humorous touches, such as his exploration of Dye's lifelong fascination with the horror genre and an outrageous plot twist in which Dye's agent and his publisher fall victim to the carnage. Bowker's tight, smart style keeps the action clipping along, and his characters range from tragically hip to comically thuggish. For readers who like their mobsters with a side order of smart satiric writing-and these days, who doesn't?-Bowker is a welcome addition to the U.S. scene.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"A deftly drawn masterpiece-well written, with a contemporary twist."
--City Life

"As it happens I knew these streets for nearly twenty years, and this tough, fabulous, smart-mouth novel captures them perfectly. The Sopranos meets The Jackal in a part of England Agatha Christie knew absolutely nothing about. This is hard, funny, and scary--try it."
--Lee Child, New York Times bestselling author of Without Fail and Running Blind

"This is a very funny book... I loved it."
--The Independent on Sunday

"Grotesque, original and murderously funny, it conforms to no existing crime template. We are sailing uncharted waters and there are sharks all around...Bowker tells his bloody tale with wit, invention and a raw energy that boils off the page. It is the kind of go that traditionally invigorates the pulps, but Bowker distills it here into a rare vintage that does wonders for his chosen genre."
--Literary Review, December 2002

"I have a confession to make; I wanted to kill Billy Dye too. It's not that I didn't like him--far from it--it's just that, like Malcolm Priest, I thought Dye was just a little bit too cocky. Funny, yes, but cocky enough to survive even a hail of bullets- so, of course, I was itching to see if he would...A novel that is wickedly funny. In fact, I'm putting [The Death You Deserve] aside for a few weeks and then plan to read it again before passing it around to some of my most deserving friends."
--Punch


"A deftly drawn masterpiece-well written, with a contemporary twist." (City Life)

"As it happens I knew these streets for nearly twenty years, and this tough, fabulous, smart-mouth novel captures them perfectly." (Lee Child, New York Times bestselling author of Without Fail and Running Blind)

"This is a very funny book...I loved it." (The Independent on Sunday)

"Grotesque, original and murderously funny, it conforms to no existing crime template." (Literary Review, December 2002)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David J. Gannon on June 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
The Death You Deserve: A Novel by David Bowker is in effect a modern day horror story along the lines of Exorcist or Silence of the Lambs with one big difference-this book is very funny.
The story center on Billy Dye and his boyhood friend-now professional hitman-now known as Rawhead.
Their friendship as boys was based on a shared interest in the occult and the classic horror stories of the time. It's a friendship cut short by the incarceration of Rawhead after he stabs a fellow student.
Billy grows up to be a failed journalist and novelist of the occult. He comes to the attention on one Malcom Priest, the head of a violent Manchester gang who signs Billy on to ghost his autobiography. Billy's a professional sarcastic SOB and he finally alienates Malcom to the point that he sets Billy up to be hit by Rawhead-his hitman of choice though one he has never seen and knows nothing about.
As Rawhead takes aim at Billy's head with his 44 Magnum he realizes that this is his boyhood chum and spares his life. This, predictably, does not please Malcom and so the chase is on.
Up to this point the book stands as a run-of-the-mill mafia tale. Once rejoined, however, the mutual attraction that Billy and Rawhead have for horror takes over and elements of a classic horror story dominate the action. Rawhead puts Billy up in an old, apparently haunted house-the night hours are filled with groans, screams and the smell of blood. Flies and maggots infest the property. Billy's instinctively knows that there's something wrong here but can't bring himself to depart both because he's a target of subsequent hitmen Malcom hires and needs Rawhead's protection as well as his attraction to the supernatural aspects of Rawhead's persona.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on June 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
British author David Bowker, formerly of Manchester, gives an American readership a first glimpse of his incredible wit in THE DEATH YOU DESERVE. His fifth novel tells the story of Billy Dye, a failed horror writer. Billy's girlfriend has left him. His novel draws no reviews and, thus, no sales. He does interview a local gangster, Malcolm Priest, for a magazine article. Based on a diluted version of the story Billy has written, Priest hires him to become his biographer. Billy's troubles begin for real at this point.
Billy's character is the ultimate "loser." He wades into predicaments that should teach him lessons about the human psyche, but Billy manages to sink deeper into the muck of his own making via his acid tongue. He is soon put at the top of Priest's "hit list." Rawhead is the hitman hired to eradicate Billy, who soon finds himself kidnapped and held in a manner of protective custody. It turns out that Rawhead is a childhood friend from grammar school who had idolized Billy.
Bowker's wit is hilarious. His characters are real yet side-splittingly funny. Rawhead's many-sided character is a hoot to follow. He is both a professional killer and a student of supernatural literature classics, with an extensive collection of signed first editions. Billy is both impressed with and frightened of him. The two unlikely companions are knit by a tighter cord when they run from Priest's henchmen, bent on killing them both.
A little book, THE DEATH YOU DESERVE can be read in an afternoon with a thirst for more. Notwithstanding a couple of stumbles through British slang, Bowker's story is a great read. Billy is the bumbling bloke that endears himself to us by his misadventures in Manchester and beyond. Despite his shortcomings, he deserves a hearty cheer for his fortitude. Names like Chef, Dogman, Beast and Heidi are Bowker's clever insertions that will make THE DEATH YOU DESERVE a chuckle in the memory bank.
--- Reviewed by Judy Gigstad
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
I'm always on the lookout for crime stories with a twist, and I'm always keen on those set outside London (such as John Williams' Cardiff books or John Harvey's Nottingham series). Alas, this Manchester-set mobster farce proved to be far too heavy-handed and baroque to be enjoyable. The story kicks off when little-read horror novelist Billy Dye (the last name is just a taste of the mostly lame humor) is granted an interview with gangster #1 Malcom Priest (again, har har on the name) for a glossy lad mag. Dye somewhat rashly (or perhaps as part of a subconscious death wish), writes the truth about the nasty gangster in his profile. Thankfully, his editor rewrites it into a fawning puff piece, temporarily keeping Billy alive (although it's no great save, since the only four people Billy seems to know are his hapless agent, his ineffectual publisher, an estranged girlfriend, and his drug connection). This leads to Priest asking Dye to ghostwrite his autobiography, and thus Billy gains access to the inner sanctum.

Bowker attempts to milk humor from the gang's silly nicknames, such as Chef, Dogman, Beast, Heidi, Doll, etc. Quirky gangster nicknames have been a source of mirth in film and prose for quite a while, and Bowker doesn't take it anywhere new. It's all very serviceable, but no one's going to dislocate a jaw laughing at the stuff. After all this setup, the story is unleashed when Priest decides Dye is annoying and orders him killed. This seems to come out of nowhere, and it's a little strange that there's no particular inciting event that leads to this. Alas, the story relies on a huge contrivance to keep the annoying Dye aliveóit just so happens that the Priest's executioner extraordinaire ("Rawhead") was Dye's best chum from childhood.
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