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A Quiet Belief In Angels [Hardcover]

R.J. Ellory
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (455 customer reviews)

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Book Description

22 Aug 2007

Joseph Vaughan's life has been dogged by tragedy. Growing up in the 1940s, he was at the centre of series of killings of young girls in his small rural community. The girls were taken, assaulted and left horribly mutilated. Barely a teenager himself, Joseph becomes determined to try to protect his community and classmates from the predations of the killer.

But despite banding together with his friends as 'Guardians', he was powerless to prevent more murders - and no one was ever caught. Only after a full ten years did the nightmare end when the one of his neighbours is found hanging from a rope - with articles from the dead girls around him. Thankfully though, the killings finally ceased.

Ill-fortune was not yet done with Joseph though and in desperation he leaves the town of his birth to forge a new life in New York. But the past won't leave him alone - for it seems that the real murderer still lives and is killing again. And the secret of his identity lies in Joseph's own history?

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (22 Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752873687
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752873688
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 15.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (455 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 965,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

RJ Ellory is the author of ten novels, all published in the UK by Orion, and available in twenty-four additional languages. They are:
BAD SIGNS (2011)
His first US release was 'A Quiet Belief In Angels' (Overlook Press, Sept 2009), his second 'The Anniversary Man' in June 2010. He has been twice shortlisted for both the CWA Gold Dagger and the CWA Dagger in the Library, shortlisted also for the Barry Award on two occasions and the 7th Europeen Du Point. He has won the Quebec Laureat, the Livre De Poche Award, the St. Maur Prize and the Villeneuve Readers' Prize for 'A Quiet Vendetta'; the Prix Du Roman Noir 2008, The Strand Magazine Mystery of the Year, and the US Independent Mystery Award for 'A Quiet Belief in Angels' (a 2007 Richard & Judy Bookclub selection), and was recently awarded the Theakston's Crime Novel of the Year 2010 for 'A Simple Act of Violence'.

Product Description


Once again R.J. Ellory shows off his special talents... This isn't your standard shock and bore serial killer novel. It's an impassioned story of a man's life told in Ellory's distinctive voice, and it confirms his place in the top flight of crime writing. (Susanna Yager Sunday Telegraph)

Each jolt strikes perfectly, and the reader will seek, utterly riveted, this masochistic beating right to the end of the book... This is thriller writing of the very highest order. (Matthew Lewin The Guardian)

Book Description

The powerful and atmospheric new thriller from the author of CITY OF LIES

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
119 of 132 people found the following review helpful
This is a book with a terrific plot ... in a small town in Georgia young girls start to disappear and then are found brutally raped and murdered. No one knows who the killer is and the authorities seem to have no suspects.

Jospeh Vaughan is a young man growing up in the midst of these killings. His father has just died and the first world war has broken out in Europe. He is struggling to come to terms with death as he sees it all around him. The murders of the girls affect him deeply and he is encouraged by his school teacher to write about his experiences. He calls together a group of friends to become 'Guardians' who vow to look out for and protect all the little girls in the area.

The murders remain unsolved, although we know from the beginning of the novel that at some stage - many years after the first killings occurred - Joseph realises who is responsible for the killings. Interspersing the main story chapters are mini-chapters which gradually outline Joseph's eventual confrontation with the killer.

Ellory is a great storyteller. He sets the scene for this novel perfectly - you're there in Georgia at the outbreak of the first world war, you can see the schoolroom where Joseph learns his lessons, you feel the anguish of the people of the town as little girls are taken and killed and no one knows who is doing it. For the first 200 pages I could hardly bear to put the book down.

HOWEVER ... [I'm keeping details vague here so I don't spoil the story for anyone who hasn't read the book yet ...]

After the first half of the book, you start feeling it's never going to end. There's so much repetition that you begin to skim over lines. I didn't get the whole 'Guardians' thing ...
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49 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting 18 Mar 2008
By BookWorm TOP 500 REVIEWER
Despite its rather grim plotline - the story of a man who is haunted throughout his life by a vicious child-killer - this is a very good book which I enjoyed despite my initial suspicion.

The novel's narrator is a likable, multifaceted character, and the others characters are mainly very strong. I genuinely liked most of them, and yet simultaneously suspected all of them. It managed to keep me guessing as to the killer's identity right up until the last few pages - a rare feat for a book. RJ Ellory does a brilliant job of conjuring up an atmosphere of suspicion and fear, whilst setting it against the ordinary happenings of everyday life.

The writing is elegant and almost poetic in sections. However, at times I found it a little frustrating as it became bogged down in digressions or descriptions when I was desperate for it to get on with the plot. It also had a slowish start, although I did warm to it quite fast. As the story is narrated retrospectively it sometimes gave just a little too much hindsight, which did get annoying at times.

However, by the end of the book I was completely hooked and stayed up much later than I should have because I couldn't stop reading. It is gripping and compelling, and yet also manages to be thought provoking. This isn't a lightweight thriller - there is real depth to the characters and storytelling.

The subject matter (the murders of over 30 little girls) makes for uncomfortable reading at times, as you would expect, and the book is unflinching in describing the horror of these crimes. I found it deeply haunting, chilling and disquieting - the sort of book you lay awake thinking about.

Overall, a very powerful though somewhat upsetting book, which manages to combine a strong emotional element with a (mostly) page-turningly gripping plot.
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264 of 315 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW!! 31 Dec 2007
Well, I sat up until somewhere past 4.00 this morning, and I finished this book in one sitting. About halfway through I went and made some tea, and I sat quietly for a moment and wondered whether this was in fact the best book I'd ever read. It made me feel how I felt when I read 'To Kill A Mockingbird' for the first time. It made me feel like I'd learned the whereabouts of an old, old friend who I thought I'd lost. It made me feel a lot of things, and now I'm done I want to leave it a little while and then read it again. I don't want to read anything else in between, because at this point I think that anything else would be a disappointment and an anticlimax. I don't know how many emotions I've gone through while reading 'A Quiet Belief In Angels', but even though the book was heartbreaking in places it feels like experiencing all those emotions was necessary. This is just an extraordinarily beautiful and moving book, sometimes violent, sometimes a little disturbing, but overall a magnificent read. It comes with the very highest recommendation.
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131 of 158 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, dramatic, powerful, extraordinary... 22 Aug 2007
Okay, so where to begin? I stop here in writing my review because I don't really know what to say.

I've read all of Ellory's books before, and I am a huge fan, no doubt about it, but you know the feeling you get when you're reading a new book by a known author and you say to yourself 'Mmmm, read this before...maybe a little un-original...' or you get the feeling that the author knows what people want to read so he kind of re-writes the same thing?

Ellory kind of kicks me sideways with every book. They are all SO different, and yet so definitely by him. If you took the covers off would you know they were all by the same person? Probably, just because the standard of writing is so extraordinarily brilliant, but there is no comparison between the stories.

I'm not going to get into the plot of A Quiet Belief In Angels, but it's kind of like 'Stand By Me', 'To Kill A Mockingbird', 'In Cold Blood', John Steinbeck, The Shawshank Redemption...I could go on, and all of it wrapped up in the most unusual serial killer novel you will ever read and written as well as anything, yes anything, I have ever read before.

This book made me laugh and cry and kept me up all night (really!) as I got a copy yesterday and finished it in the early hours of this morning. Please get this book and read it, and if you love it as much as I do then get people you know to read it. This is the way books should be. This is the standard of writing that we should demand of other authors. Too long reading dross and formula thank you very much!! Enough is enough!! Bring it on R J Ellory...you have restored my faith in the fact that English authors are the best in the world, even though you write 'American' novels...

So how long before the next one? Too damned long, that's what I say!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
I did not find it gripping until towards the very end.
Published 2 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A refreshingly different book
This is not my usual reading material but I read the kindle write up and thought I'd try it. It's a great story and a real page turner. You just had to keep on reading it. Read more
Published 25 days ago by Kevin Foote
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping
I was gripped by this book from the start. I couldn't put it down and couldn't wait to pick it up again. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Mrs. D. M. Reynolds
2.0 out of 5 stars long and boring
the most anticlimax book I have read , the plot is thin , the characters are deep and complex, quite predictable
Published 1 month ago by Ja D. Reis Ribeiro
4.0 out of 5 stars Great
A fabulous book with so much packed in . Wonderful writing you can picture everything and some great characters. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jo
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful writing, excellent plot
I'm not keen on crime fiction, but then I've never read one as beautifully written as this book.

It's captivating from the first page and very hard to put down - the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Anderson93
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Couldn't put it down; a life story with all events intertwined, thoroughly well written, can't wait to read another of his books.
Published 1 month ago by E. B. Walker
5.0 out of 5 stars fab
Am so pleased with my purchase, exactly as described, with superfast delivery.Great service, I will return to this seller and highly recommend to everyone
Published 1 month ago by CAx
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written but too long
An interesting plot which keeps you guessing till the end. But little explanation as to the killer's motives so you're left wondering why him. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Hal
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling read
This is just a unique novel. Felt empathy throughout with Joseph Vaughn and what he goes through. I had so many suspects but did not see the ending coming. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Chris
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What is it about Ellorys writing that makes him so uniique? 27 2 Jul 2013
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