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The Final Testimony of Raphael Ignatius Phoenix Paperback – 4 Dec 2014

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan (4 Dec. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552779679
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552779678
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 51,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

For as long as I can remember, the two great loves of my life have been writing and archaeology (three if you include travelling in out of the way places, especially deserts). For many years I worked as a field archaeologist in Egypt, notably in Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, and all my novels to a greater or lesser extent draw on my experiences excavating and living in Egypt and the Middle East. My main protagonist, Inspector Yusuf Khalifa of the Luxor Police, is a composite of a number of people I know, and while his colourful adventures are products purely of my imagination, the world he inhabits is very much a real one. Through Khalifa I try to explore issues such as terrorism, contemporary Middle East politics, religion and government corruption, all against a backdrop of the extraordinary history and archaeological heritage of that part of the world. To find out a bit more about me and my novels, check out my website:

Product Description


"More than lives up to its promise...It's the first novel Sussman ever wrote, yet the things that made him such a distinctive writer - his boundless imagination, his love of the bizarre, his ability to keep a complex plot bowling along - are already firmly in place. The book is as darkly funny as it is original." (JOHN PRESTON, Mail on Sunday)

"Chaotic, surreal, tricksy and so alive... Sussman's first written and last published novel has shades of Vonnegut, Donleavy and Golding's Pincher Martin. Loved it" (JONATHAN GRIMWOOD, author of The Last Banquet)

Book Description

Paul Sussman's first novel - one man's riotous account of the 20th century - would, sadly, also prove to be his last.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By I Readalot TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 May 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The title and the blurb were enough to tell me that 'The Final Testimony of Raphael Ignatius Phoenix' was definitely my kind of book and I wasn't disappointed. Strange, quirky, even surreal at times and infused with dark humour as well as an element of magical realism. Rafael Ignatius Phoenix is a wonderful character with an equally wonderful name. He was born in the early hours of New Year's Day in 1900 and has decided to end his life on his 100th birthday, with only 10 days to go he begins what becomes the longest suicide note in history, written not on paper but on walls and written in reverse, starting with his most recent murder.

The backwards autobiography that makes for his suicide note is the only way the story could be told without giving away too much. I did question, like most people probably will, whether or not the murders actually were murders, more manslaughter really, but Raphael saw them as murders and it is his story after all. He certainly had an interesting life while always carrying around the pill and the photograph, and then there is the mysterious Emily who keeps popping up from time to time. It made me laugh and also brought me close to tears on occasions. I think his fans are going to be very surprised with this one.

I know that readers can be wary of posthumous publications of `newly discovered' manuscripts however `The Final Testimony of Raphael Ignatius Phoenix' is a novel that should really have been published years ago, although maybe publishers would have struggled to market it at the time. As to what kind of book it is, what genre, I have no answer, it doesn't really fit anywhere exactly, except for with the increasing number of books that also don't exactly fit anywhere - my favourite kind in fact.

Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for the proof copy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Jenkinson TOP 500 REVIEWER on 8 Aug. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
What an original and delightful book this is! It languished in the author’s desk after being rejected (yet again, it astonishes me just how short-sighted publishers can be) until after his all too early death when his wife retrieved it and prepared it for publication. Paul Sussman had gone on to write some well-received detective novels but this first book is quite different – quirky, slightly surreal and absurd, but rooted firmly enough in reality to make both plot and main character easy to believe in.
It’s the story of Raphael Phoenix, born at the turn of the nineteenth century and planning his death for the turn of the twentieth, something he intends to do in a quite unorthodox way. But then his whole life has been pretty unorthodox, and as he writes his account of it before committing suicide, we go back in time to learn how he became a serial killer – not that he intended being responsible for all those deaths. I’m not going to say more about the plot, as part of the joy of reading this book is discovering what happens.
Imaginative, extremely well-written, with an admirable and impressive command of plot, character and the narrative threads, with each adventure or incident segueing effortlessly into the next, it’s a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable book, and one that deserves a wide readership.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Macey89 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 8 Aug. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
As Raphael Ignatius Phoenix approaches his 100th birthday, he plots his own demise. But before that day comes, he’s makes the decision to write a testimony of his life as a legacy to leave behind. Armed with felt tip pens and the white walls of his cliff top castle as a canvas, he tells his own autobiography in reverse. The defining details of his life? He’s a multiple murderer. In an attempt to tell his story, Phoenix decides to commit the full stories of each of his ten murders to paper.

Phoenix himself is an engaging and entertaining. He has a sharp tongue, an impressionable personality and a willingness to go where the wind takes him, discarding his past for a new life without so much as a second thought. Each period in his life is entirely unique, yet characterised by the same distinctive flair and personality.

But Phoenix is also deeply flawed as a character. He has a dark side that frequently comes to the forefront and a complete lack of regard for the feelings and wellbeing of anyone around him – with the exception of his childhood friend, Emily, who regularly turns up at opportune moments to save the day. His murderous tendencies are often provoked by the smallest of details, and he shows little or no remorse for his actions.

As we go further through the book, however, it becomes quite clear that Phoenix is entirely unreliable narrator. By the end, the lines between fact and fiction and reality and illusion have become distinctly blurred. It’s no longer possible to tell how much of what appears in Phoenix’s testimony happens only in his head.

As a result, Phoenix’s eulogy to himself turns from a quite a light-hearted, amusing anecdote into a tale with a troubling and disconcerting undercurrent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. John Frank Herbert on 11 July 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
How truly incredible to believe that at one time the author, Paul Sussman, had given up on the manuscript for this book, and after he sadly died in May 2012
we, the reader, had the good fortune that his wife picked it up again and co-edited the final draft, which portrays the magical humour of the author.

Raphael Ignatius Phoenix (RIP) was born at the beginning of the 20th century and will be 100 years old as the millennium ends.

He is determined to write his fantastical life story on the castle walls where he lives, which includes 10 murders that he has committed, before popping in a
suicide pill, a pill that he's been carrying around for about 90 of those years!

I, personally, found this to be one of the most beautiful and satisfying of reads; the murders were inventive and humorous, the antics of our anti-hero were
sublimely comical, and the writing was so wonderful in that the pages simply raced by.

I didn't want this hilarious ride to finish, I really didn't!

And the ending, especially the relationship with Emily, his childhood friend,leaves you gasping. Never expected that!

My goodness...I'm really sad that the experience has finished.

Ps. What a beautiful cover on the hardback, by the way.
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