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The Resurrectionists: A Novel Hardcover – September 24, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
I couldnt quite get us back without incident for the burial of my father. We ran into a little trouble along the way. It took us two stolen cars along the interstate to get us home. Collins, an Irish-American writer whose last novel, The Keepers of Truth, was shortlisted for the Booker, has perfected the art of beginning a novel, as the sentences above attest. The year is 1979, and narrator Frank Cassidy is stuck in a dead end job in New Jersey. Orphaned at the age of five when his parents were burnt to death in a fire, Frank is still haunted by his past and fights off fits of clinical depression. He's married to Honey and has two kids, 14-year-old Robert Lee and five-year-old Ernie. Robert Lee is actually the son of Honeys first husband, a murderer now on death row. When Frank discovers by chance that his adoptive father, Ward Cassidy, was shot and killed on his farm in Cooper, Mich., he packs up the family and returns to his hometown, in spite of his stepbrother Normans advice not to come. With little to return to in New Jersey, the family decides to stay in Cooper for a while. Frank gets a job in security at a local college and in his spare time investigates the link between the mystery of Wards murder and the mysteries surrounding his own early life. The connection seems to hinge on the identity of Wards murderer. Is he really Chester Green, the presumably long dead son of a local farmer? (And why would Chester kill Ward?) Contrary to Scott Fitzgeralds oft-repeated dictum that there are no second acts in American life, Collins shows that second acts are what America is all about: for all the battered existences on display in this novel, there's a faith, a persistent optimism, that lifts them above the tawdriness of their details.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
A newspaper headline "Farmer murdered by mystery man" triggers a chain of events narrated by Frank Cassidy, the quintessential unreliable witness. From the age of five, when he was traumatized by the burning death of his parents, Frank was raised by his uncle Ward, who led him to wonder whether he may have been responsible for starting the blaze. Subsequent therapy and hypnosis only deepen the mystery and lead to Frank's eventual breakdown, hospitalization, and electroshock therapy, further muddying his own memory of events. After reading the newspaper account of his uncle's murder, Frank, accompanied by his wife and sons, returns to Michigan, robbing and stealing along the way, in a make-or-break attempt to solve the murder, reclaim the family farm, and uncover long-buried family secrets. While the putative killer and only witness to the murder lies in a coma, his doctor (Frank's former therapist) suspects that he has "locked-in syndrome" and may be able to communicate what he knows. Against a backdrop of 1970s television, from Police Woman to Starsky and Hutch, suspense builds to a heart-stopping conclusion. This tension-filled page-turner by the Booker Prize-nominated Collins (The Keepers of Truth) is recommended for most public libraries. Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Of course there are many complications between low life in New Jersey and new life in the upper peninsula of Michigan. For one, he isn't welcome; for another he has to steal two cars and $4000 to finance the trip. Strangely enough, you continue to like Frank, and you hope things will work out for him. And in strange, unexpected ways, they do.
Along the way he tries to reconstruct his past, hidden behind layers of family secrets, and the destructive probing of an incompetent therapist many years before. And the surprise ending is really out of the ordinary.
Michael Collins is an excellent writer, but the book does have some flaws. The dialogue is sometimes had to believe, too literary for the characters who are speaking it. The portrayal of psychiatric illness and treatment is so far from reality, even for the time portrayed, that it is a little embarrassing to the modern reader. The author should have done a bit more homework in this area.
All in all, though, the book works, it is entertaining, it keeps you involved, and--yes--the characters do find new life. I recommend this book. Louis N. Gruber
Coupled with this Collins adds another dimension, the main character's wife who was previously divorced and has a husband on death row. His death looms throughout the book. The husband wants to his organs donated for medical purposes, however, his wife suspects, he wants to come after her.
In strange ways Collins brings us face to face with moral and ethical questions. It is often only upon reflection, you see understand what you read which is a weird and discomforting aspect of this book, but works because of the subject matter. I confess to rereading chapters, and in a way that is what the book is about, reruns, about returning again to history, to a story.
Collins has done something few writers are capable of doing, a work where both its content and its style are interwoven in a virtuoso way.
The end will blow you away.
But, later, we meet up with the characters of the book, such as as the wife Honey and the children Robert Lee and `Ernie, Franks uncle Ward Cassidy, the neighbors Sam and Chester Green, the psychiatrist Dr. Brown, Ward's son Norman and his wife Martha. They all are what you would call "damaged goods". The mystery at the center of the story is: Who killed Frank's parents who dies in the arson of their home. And what goes on with "The Sleeper", who lies in a waking coma at the local hospital. And who killed Ward Cassidy?
The story is told with great skill, lifting the vail of a snowy landscape only a little at a time, keeping you guessing. You get a feeling of floating along with it, never able to penetrate the various mysteries. In that respect, it is a great novel.
The solution to it all comes on the last few pages. It makes convoluted sense, but is far from satisfying. The novel might have more impact if it had been told straight forward, without Frank's ruminations.
I would go further... There is a whirlwind of suspense, murder, pain and redemption in this novel. It was featured in our reading group, and it was a novel that was reviled and loved in equal measure, but the genuine vision and insights of the narrator and author cannot be denied. Not to everybody's tastes, but then again, taste should not be the discriminating factor in acknowledging the genius of a work.
The novel generated, let me be frank, a sense of antagonism between defenders and detractors, something that we�ve not experienced in the six years we�ve been meeting. I think the debate surrounded political ideology and social beliefs. The Resurrectionists pits us against a man who, despite his humanity by the end of the novel, is capable of murder and has an innate sense of survival. He is, as self-described, a scavenger at the edge of our consciousness� Scary stuff in the most real sense �
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book is a minor epic, with the hero traipsing across the America that people don't usually write about in their novels. This is the America of plain, people. Read morePublished on June 6, 2014 by Hanan B
What have we here? It seems to be a book about something, but the only memories I have are of very faintly disguised knocks against this wonderful country we live in. Read morePublished on October 7, 2011 by Awilson
Michael Collins' novel The Resurrectionists crosses several genres. On the one hand, it is about of dashed hopes and possible redemption. On the other, it is a murder mystery. Read morePublished on June 14, 2010 by stoic
Superb. Found it hard to put down. All the characters are flawed humans, all trying the best they can to made a life for themselves. Read morePublished on April 7, 2010
This is an unusual book, strange in so many ways I'm going to have trouble listing them all. I'll try, though. Read morePublished on December 13, 2006 by David W. Nicholas
Frank Cassidy lives on the fringes of society in a succession of demeaning jobs, a wife with an ex-husband on death row in Georgia, an angst-riddled stepson waiting for his father... Read morePublished on August 6, 2005 by Luan Gaines
This book is a pleasure to read. The writing style is effortless - Mr Collins is a skillful and inventive writer. Read morePublished on January 1, 2005 by Bill Blake
The hero is a pragmatist in a Godless world. The protagonist, Frank Cassidy, had not had a day off in two years when he quits his job in New Jersey to go the the Upper Peninsula,... Read morePublished on June 12, 2004 by Mary E. Sibley