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The Broken Ones: A Novel Hardcover – August 7, 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Favorite Books of 2012, Chicago Tribune...Best Fiction of 2012: Thrillers, Kirkus Reviews...Best of 2012 Horror, Suspense Magazine

“I was hooked from page one. The protagonist of The Broken Ones is a policeman in Australia, which (in Irwin’s narrative world), has become a different country since a sudden reversal of polarity. This reversal has changed everything: now each live person is haunted by one ghost, visible only to that person. The consequences of this situation utterly change society. Detective Oscar Mariani is still trying to be a good cop in a world that does not appreciate good cops or reward them, and the murders he is determined to solve are horrendous. Intelligent, grim, and challenging.”
New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris, on CharlaineHarris.com

"A truly unique and harrowing vision--Irwin's ability to blend genres is as remarkable as his imagination."
LINCOLN CHILD, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

"In this strange and uncanny second novel, Australian author (and filmmaker) Stephen M. Irwin combines the gumshoe fiction of Raymond Chandler and the retro-futurism of "Blade Runner" to concoct a doomsday scenario that feels eerily relevant...No one in this feverish novel emerges unscathed. You may not, either. I couldn't shake the enveloping gloom or lyrical despair of The Broken Ones for days."
Chicago Tribune

"In the striking retro future of this novel, bizarre and familiar comfortably coincide. A flawlessly assembled thriller."
Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

"A well-paced, imaginative story."
The Free Lance-Star

"Blending the supernatural thriller with hard-boiled crime fiction, Australian Irwin, in his second novel, which follows the acclaimed The Dead Path (2010), depicts a bleak future. Three years after Grey Wednesday, on which the earth’s poles suddenly switched, unemployment is rampant, while food and goods are in short supply. Perhaps most devastating of all, however, was the appearance of the ghosts. All are now haunted by the eyeless specters of people they once knew. As a result, suicide and murder rates have skyrocketed, and a unit has been created within the police department to exonerate perpetrators driven to murder by their ghosts. Rumpled, dogged detective Oscar Mariani works in that unit. He is poorly paid, constantly under threat of being shut down, and disrespected by mainstream policemen, many of whom are corrupt. But then he catches the case of a young woman whose body has been badly mutilated and marked with occult signs, and he is convinced her murder is connected to the highest levels of government. How he goes about solving his case while weighed down with guilt over his failed personal relationships provides much of the suspense in a story that also offers cinematic descriptions of a rain-drenched, ruined Brisbane and smoothly incorporated supernatural elements. A unique and thrilling blend of horror and crime."
Booklist (Starred Review) 

"Stephen M. Irwin's new book is a thrilling ride, cementing him as a formidable new talent in fiction."
Book of the Month Club

“Infusing equals parts of horror and crime, The Broken Ones is masterfully written and an entertaining read.”
The Birmingham Times

"Highly original...Irwin’s depiction of a world falling apart under the onslaught of supernatural forces, and the desperate measures some will take to remedy it, is one of the more memorable in recent weird fiction."
Publishers Weekly

“Genre-bending and imaginative, Irwin’s sophomore novel is part fantasy, part supernatural crime thriller. Similar in style and content to the works of Cherie Priest and Richard Matheson, this will appeal to a variety of genre readers who enjoy intelligent fiction that pushes boundaries.”
Library Journal

"Some of the best work being produced across all the art forms in this century derives its quality and its energy from the mixing up of forms and genres... This ambitious novel combines not just two genres, but three, mixing up the conventions of supernatural mystery, police procedural and speculative fiction to produce a futuristic dystopian society that has broken down after an invasion of ghosts, with a hero straight from the hard-boiled school of crime... The writing is at once witty, gritty and grim.  The horrors are genuinely horrible and the imagined scenario is satisfyingly rich and suggestive." 'Pick of the Week'
Sydney Morning Herald

About the Author

STEPHEN M. IRWIN lives in Brisbane, Australia, with his wife and children. He is the author of The Dead Path.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (August 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385534655
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385534659
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,081,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This one's tough to classify. It mostly feels like a detective novel, but then there's the matter of that pesky cataclysmic event. Three years ago the world turned upside down -- literally. The earth's poles switched places and destruction reigned. Planes and satellites fell out of the sky, cars went smashing about, and the worldwide economy fell in the toilet.
And oh, by the way, everyone now has a private ghost that never leaves them alone. Cocktail party chatter regularly includes the question, "Who is yours?" -- meaning who is your ghost. Some are dead relatives, some are complete strangers, and their constant presence is driving people to madness.

Aussie detective Oscar Mariani is assigned to a unit investigating crimes committed by people whose personal ghosts may have driven them insane. Someone is mutilating and killing young girls in ritualistic fashion. Are they trying to call forth or appease supernatural beings?

Along with the murder mystery, there are semi-dystopian elements here, and just a whiff of horror. I was concerned that it might be too gruesome or violent for me, but it's not any worse than other novels of its kind. There are some grisly bits, but nothing felt calculated to gross people out.

This is a complex novel, and Irwin juggles his plot eggs admirably most of the time. The character of Oscar Mariani is richly developed. His rogue cop status and the past that haunts him give the story more depth than I'd expected.

I did find it hard to keep track of the large cast of minor characters, and found myself flipping back through the pages each time they were mentioned to remember how they fit in. There are also a few holes that interrupted a seamless flow and left me scratching my head.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Easily one of my favorite books I've read in recent years. You know this is true because, as a general rule, I don't review books that I can't rate as 5 stars. The story is highly imaginative. Dark and filled with mythology, monsters, and loads of mystery. The research in mythology is well done. But even more so, the forensic pathology described is spot on (I've been a forensic death investigator for more than 20 years and I've never seen a lay person author get so many details correct when dealing with autopsies, decomposition, and bullet wounds (and no, he didn't get every detail correct, but he was close...which showed his respect for the field.)).

The characters were all well-developed and intriguing. I have to say that I grew to admire Oscar, the protagonist, a great deal. His refusal to give up, no matter the horrors that were sent his way is what makes a great hero. When I first began reading the book, I wasn't sure how I felt about him. Or if I felt anything for him. But by the end, his character had bloomed into a full-fledged sympathetic hero.

The ghosts and creatures were also quite engrossing. There were scenes (I won't spoil them) where Oscar was being hunted that I found my muscles literally tight with tension. Very creepy monsters, trust me.

And finally, I'd like to point out the single greatest thing about this book. Sure, there were ghosts. Sure, there were monsters. Sure, there was occultist elements. But through it all beat the heart of a first class murder mystery full of intrigue, conspiracy, and danger. Just a fantastic read over all.
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Format: Hardcover
This review, including illustrations and links that do not translate on this site, can also be found on my blog, Now is Gone, by clicking my profile name and finding the link to my blog; look in the month of June.

Book Info: Genre: Paranormal Horror/Thriller Suspense Noir Reading Level: Adult book available 8/7/12

Disclosure: I received a free paperback ARC from Doubleday in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: Award-winning author Stephen M. Irwin returns with a thrilling, supernatural crime novel built around an intriguing question: What happens when every single person is haunted by a ghost only they can see?

Without warning, a boy in the middle of a city intersection sends Detective Oscar Mariani's car careening into a busy sidewalk. The scene is bedlam as every person becomes visited by something no one else can see. We are all haunted. Usually, the apparition is someone known: a lost relative, a lover, an enemy. But not always. For Oscar Mariani, the only secret that matters is the unknown ghost who now shares his every waking moment . . . and why.

The worldwide aftershock of what becomes known as "Gray Wednesday" is immediate and catastrophic, leaving governments barely functioning and economies devastated . . . but some things don't change. When Detective Mariani discovers the grisly remains of an anonymous murder victim in the city sewage system, his investigation will pit him against a corrupt police department and a murky cabal conspiring for power in the new world order.

My Thoughts: I was absolutely thrilled when Doubleday contacted me about receiving an ARC of Stephen Irwin's latest book! I loved his first book, "The Dead Path", and have been excitedly awaiting another book by this wonderfully talented author.
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