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All the Beautiful Sinners Hardcover – April 8, 2003

3.9 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This second novel by Jones (The Fast Red Road: A Plainsong) follows Texas Deputy Sheriff Jim Doe in his chase after the Tin Man, a sociopath who has been abducting Indian children in the heartland for a decade. Jones, who is a member of the Blackfeet Nation, infuses this cleverly plotted detective story with Indian lore: the Tin Man enters Indian homes during tornadoes, always kidnapping a pair of children-a brother and sister-bringing to life an old Indian belief that storms sometimes take a malicious human form. As he tracks the Tin Man along dusty Texas highways and small towns across the country, Doe, who is also Indian, must face his own troubled family history, which includes a mother who abandoned his family and a sister who has been missing for nearly 20 years. The book masterfully plays with the serial killer genre, walking a line between convention and invention and delving into the psychology of both killer and detective. The plot is chilling in itself, but Jones's brisk, clean, visceral prose gives the novel its edgy suspense. Even a brief description of a mundane waiting room, for example, becomes unnerving when Jones describes the protagonists having "left the waiting room chairs at odd angles, the television looking down on them at a severe angle. The coins in Jim Doe's pants jingled as they walked. The hall was seventeen years long."
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

As the serial killer genre has grown in popularity, so has the body count. In Robert Bloch's masterpiece, Psycho, we had four victims, including two done in before the novel even begins. Now in this book, we have dozens of victims strewn along an Apian Way of viscera and gore. This sanguine saga is about a morose and languid Texas deputy sheriff, Jim Doe, who helps a team of FBI profilers track down the notorious "Tin Man." For the last 15 years, the killer has been abducting Indian children, including Doe's sister, during tornadoes. Now the Tin Man's activities are on the rise. Doe and the agents follow the killer back and forth from the heartland to the East Coast until you begin to wonder who is tracking who in this murderous old Land of Oz. For those who like their mayhem loaded on thick, this book will be a creepy double pleasure, but those sensitive to mountains of graphic violence, especially when directed toward children, might want to steer clear. David Hellman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Rugged Land; First Edition edition (March 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590710088
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590710081
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 5.7 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,406,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well this is one of SGJ's very early works, only his second novel after his debut, The Fast Red Road--A Plainsong. Ha, I always think of the opening song off of the Cure's Disintegration, but he's probably talking about North America's Great Plains.
Well, I think Mr. Jones matured into an incredible writer, but here he's going through his growing pains, leaving a trail of broken shell and yolk and halfway decent literary devices.
I found the antagonist (or antagonists) to be unbelievable and way too omnipotent/omniscient. I also found the novel to be a little hard to follow. Jones seems to sacrifice realism and logical plot development for poetry. I'm all about poetry and impressionism and literary license, but this early work just seems a bit sloppy. Still, you see the seeds, the rudiments, of a great future American writer here. He takes the crime novel, the serial killer/ detective novel, and enriches it with poetic insight, but it is yet lacking in cohesiveness. This is not tightly woven, and all wrapped up. I found the antagonist to be distractingly unbelievable.
Still, a decent read, but far from Jones' best work. I find he gets better with age. He's sort of the opposite of Stephen King in that regard. The earliest work that will turn heads and make converts/ believers/ followers of SGJ us probably the unique trilogy, Demon Theory.
P.S. The seller was prompt and delivered a great product. No complaints there, just muchas gracias.
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By A Customer on January 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book challenges the reader to become involved in the story. I am so used to novels that are simply "bubble gum for the mind", that I had to start over about a quarter into the book and actually pay attention. This book is not "dumbed down". It is an adventure. The prose is beautiful. The storyline is complex, amazing and chilling. There are several different storylines that can be gleaned from this book if you choose to do so. I love Jim Doe and hope to read more books with him as a central character. This author has definitely gotten my attention!
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Format: Hardcover
Ah....All the Beautiful Sinners....a suspenseful story with all the right elements to keep the reader involved. The rhythm of the story is remarkable: take a step forward-glance over your shoulder (sometimes far into the past)-slide back just a little-then move on. While this rhythm propels readers through the uncertainty that looms around the characters, it also explains why events are happening. The events-murder, kidnapping, loss-are presented in vivid descriptions. For example, one of the FBI guys is tracking a sociopath behind a path of tornados. The scene unfolds with a water tower eerily watching the destruction: "The Bluff City water tower was leaned over, like it was trying to look at something on the next street." Throughout this chapter, stark images of the tower breaking apart foreshadow the tragedy that happens next.
Flashbacks help readers crawl into the minds of the characters. One in particular, with a father and son on the lake, is told in slow motion. At another point in the story, FBI agents move into a basement where they suspect the killer might be: "Behind Creed, four more agents streamed down the stairs, covering each other. They were like circus performers, a troupe of mimes in their black turtlenecks and identical blazers." Sharp, clear images like these take the reader right into the scene. References to American Indians are strong and thought provoking. At one point, Jim Doe, the main character, decides not to call the cops for help: "He wanted to call the DPS, the FBI. Agnes. But a white cop in an Indian place like this. Or, cops. All the men would fold themselves into lockers, spin the locks from the inside, stay there as long as they had to." Character development is wonderful!
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Format: Hardcover
Stephen Graham Jones is a unique writer in that he can take the mystery novel genre and reinvent it. That's what his strongest quality is, reinvention. A writer friend of mine once told me that all the stories and forms in the world have been told or used before. He said the difference between a good or bad writer is how they take the stories and forms and present them in a new, vivid way. Jones' takes a handful of Midwest clichés and tosses them back at us, rethought and rewritten, like he was the origin.
But, interestingly enough, ATBS cannot be read singularly as a mystery novel. Within the context of the surface level mystery there is a complex web of historicity that makes this novel highly literary and highly theoretical. Jones' is one of American Indian literature's new authors, bringing to the discourse field a contemporary voice that is challenging and contemptuous of modern U.S. society. Jones, like Alexie and Howe, has used the mystery genre as a means to give voice to the multi-faceted frustration felt by indigenous peoples in the U.S. The form, in and of itself, becomes a rhetorical tool that allows the author to challenge readers to the core. Who is "The Indian" in this text? What does that character embody? How is this character determined by dominant culture's grossly demented stereotypes of American Indians? How is s/he not? Does it matter? As the mystery unfolds, it becomes evident that the characters, especially the American Indian characters, are all working on a landscape that has been plagued by colonization and domination. The novel is ripe for scholarly evaluation.
If for no other reason, people should read All the Beautiful Sinners for all the beautiful sentences that make up this novel. Stephen Jones rocks my writer-ly self-esteem.
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