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In the Absence of Miracles Kindle Edition
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"A moving and plausible portrait of a deeply troubled marriage." —Publishers Weekly on A Suitable Lie
About the Author
Michael J. Malone has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His debut novel Blood Tears won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. His other books include A Suitable Lie, When I Was Punk, House of Spines, and After He Died.
- ASIN : B07RYVW17C
- Publisher : Orenda Books (July 19, 2019)
- Publication date : July 19, 2019
- Language : English
- File size : 411 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 293 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #317,840 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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I haven’t spent much time in Scotland, but I doubt everyone uses the foul language that’s throughout the book, used by every character in ordinary conversation.
I do not recommend the book.
Top reviews from other countries
This is most definitely how I would describe the feeling I got after reading In The Absence of Miracles, a book which is as much a study of mental health and the emotional barriers we erect up to protect ourselves in times of great stress, as it is a mystery or thriller. That is one of the author's greatest strengths really - finding the emotional heart of the story and making sure that the reader feels it with every single turn of the page.
The story starts in a rather unassuming way with protagonist, John Docherty, being faced with the prospect of clearing the family home when his mother is taken ill following a massive stroke. It is a hard moment in any child's life, watching a loved one move beyond the point at which you can help them, admitting that they need more care than you can provide, and John struggles with the whole idea as many often do. But it is only as he starts to look through old boxes of memories that John starts to realise why his relationship with his mother is quite restrained. He uncovers quite the family secret, and no matter who he turns to, he finds himself stymied as he tries to find his way to the truth.
I don't want to say much more about the story than that. The blurb really tells you all you need to know. The lion's share of the story surrounds the efforts of John and his younger brother Chris to discover the truth behind a photograph that John finds amongst his mother's effects. With a narrative that follows the present and also delves into a past that does not want to be retold, we are taken on an undulating, sometimes surprising, often difficult to read about journey which forces John to confront memories that he would rather had remained buried.
I must admit, parts of this story are difficult to read, and they will likely make you a little uncomfortable. They should make you uncomfortable as it is a very taboo subject that is being addressed. It is not an easy tale to tell, but one which is sadly all too realistic. As I mentioned earlier, the author walks a very fine line when conveying the difficult truths of this story, but never once crosses it, Here, the implied is as powerful and heartbreaking as any graphic description could ever be. And the toll that the devastating truth has on John and his family is sympathetically and realistically drawn.
As a reader you may well recognise in John's behaviour a pattern that alerts you on some level of what has happened, even if you don't fully realise the extent of what came before. It makes it a very absorbing and compelling read and I found myself wanting to know what had happened. I needed to understand what was behind John's self destructive tendencies, his reluctance to commit and the ease with which he lets both himself, and those he loves, down. John is a character who will both delight and infuriate you. On one hand, he can be caring, perhaps never knowing fully why just acting by instinct, and yet maddeningly obtuse when it comes to his personal relationships and a reliance upon alcohol as a crutch.
All in all this is a very emotional and devastating read. As the story nears its conclusion, you will find your feelings being tossed around like a tennis ball in a tumble dryer. Maybe you'll even feel a little bruised when the story ends, mentally drained from the journeying to the emotional precipice that the author leads you to. Above all, I know I felt richer for having read it. Another brilliant read.
I liked the whole premise of the story, John discovering that he'd had an older brother he knew nothing about and who'd disappeared as a teenager when John was a toddler. I wanted to know why his parents hadn't mentioned him (to be honest, even by the end that question wasn't really answered) and was curious enough to finish the book to see what had become of him. But I didn't like John much, so I began to not care, just wanting to finish the book so I could start something more interesting.
Apart from a few flash-back chapters, it was written in the first person by John. But, weirdly, there were two short third person chapters near the beginning of the book. This was extremely jarring and I'm actually left wondering if it's an editing error where maybe the whole book had primarily been written in the third person and these small bits got left behind in the change. There were also some sudden jumps in time in the narrative when nothing had happened, which felt a bit strange, though that kind of fitted in well with some clunky dialogue. John's younger brother Chris's character wasn't given enough depth and there was no explanation as to why he suddenly became James Bondesque in the denouement.
All in all a totally forgettable book and an author I won't be seeking out again.
When John's mother has a stoke and is in a care home, he begins to sort through her house ready to sell it and finds things he wasn't expecting. The resulting search for answers leads to shocking and emotional revelations that also put him in danger.
I read this book quickly as Malone is an excellent author who maintains the suspense. If you like an emotive read then this will have you rooting for the three main characters and hoping for justice. This is the third book by Malone I've read, and my favourite.
My biggest issues are: WARNING SPOILERS! Characters are not very well developed and there is a bunch of inconsistencies with the whole plot that left me thinking that I surely couldn’t have been the only person to notice them them.
For example, how did Thomas manage to get away from Seth and the gang? What exactly was his connection with Elsa Brown after his escape? How did he manage to overcome his ordeals and pull through? His meeting with Liz is obscure and not given any details - it’s casually mentioned that they met while the boys were begging at St Pancras where they only spent a day before Seth caught up with them and single handedly managed to get the two teenagers back into his van... Also, there are all the descriptions of how Thomas was so very similar to his father, only it turns out he wasn’t his father’s son at all?...
The characters constantly consume unthinkable amounts of alcoholand tell each other that they need to talk after having just spent hours having just done that.
I have more issues with the book but I don’t really want to waste any more time on it but thought it was necessary to warn other customers not to waste money and time
John Docherty’s elderly mother has recently suffered a massive stroke. He knows that he will need to sell the old family home to pay bills to ensure she has the care she needs. It is an uncomfortable decision he has had to make, but he knows his mother’s health must come first. But as he is clearing out items at his family’s property, he uncovers a photograph which sends his world into a spin. He may have once had a brother, a brother who he never knew about. John sets out to try and find out what happened to him. He tries to find out why his family decided to keep his existence a secret from him and his younger brother Chris. But what John discovers is far more shocking than he ever thought possible and it makes him question his own past. Things between them will never be the same again.
I really connected with John as he tried to uncover the truth. What he uncovers is devastating, and John’s emotions came through so strongly in Michael J Malone’s writing as he attempts to come to terms with what he finds. There are some tough themes which Michael explores in this book, such as sexual abuse and trafficking. I did find some parts of the story uncomfortable to read at times, but I was compelled to read on, and Michael deals with these subjects sensitively, not making them over gratuitous. Michael looks at the psychological aspect more, and this is particularly the case with John and his family. Michael examines how past events have affected them in the future. This is also what makes this book a very powerful read.
One of the things which always stand out for me in Michael’s writing is his sense of place and his description. This is something which I can see he thinks a lot about before putting pen to paper as everything he writes about is very vivid. There is tension as well here, as John and Chris come closer to learning the truth, and this is turned up a further notch in the final chapters leading to a heartbreaking and a satisfactory conclusion.
Michael J Malone has written a superb novel, and as I was reading, I felt as though I was in the hands of a very accomplished writer. I have two novels of Michael’s which I still need to catch up on, and I really need to do that very soon. In the Absence of Miracles is a novel, I feel that is best to be savoured and not one to rush. You’ll still be thinking about the characters after you have turned the final page.