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The Deaths
 
 

The Deaths [Kindle Edition]

Mark Lawson
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)

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Review

'Astonishingly expansive, hilarious and heartbreakingly dark' Julie Myerson, Observer, Best Holiday Reads 2013

'Mark Lawson’s dark social satire on the British upper middle classes, skewers with precision this group of rich professionals who have grown fat and well-holidayed during the New Labour boom years but are now coming to a crunch point . . . Lawson’s skill is to make his characters believable and, despite their odiousness, to make us care about them and their (possibly terrible) fate.’ ' Financial Times

‘Mark Lawson writes with a forensic eye for detail, exposing the foibles of his characters with scalpel-like precision. A wonderful, bitingly satirical, achingly true, warts and all portrait of modern middle-class England – and a true shocker of an ending’ Peter James

'A wickedly witty snapshot of contemporary life' Cambridge News

'Sharp and very funny . . . wonderfully vivid and detailed' Guardian

'A cleverly constructed crime novel that's really a dark comedy of social observation and satire.' Choice Magazine

'a wickedly witty snapshot of contemporary life.' Irish Examiner

'sharply observed and blackly funny' Metro Scotland

'Mark Lawson’s bleak satire on England’s new aristocracy pulls no punches' Observer

'packed with superbly sharp observation' Sunday Times

'written with panache' The Times (Saturday Review)

ambitious, relevant, brave and full of humour and heart (Julie Myerson, Books of the Year Observer)

a biting satire which skewers the moneyed classes while throwing them the occasional sliver of sympathy. We know from the start that the father from one of four wealthy families from the same idyllic village has massacre his wife and offspring and then himself, but Lawson takes us through several hundred gripping, intricately plotted pages before we find out 'whodunnit' (Annual Books Round-Up 2013 guardian)

The dialogue is good, the social comedy of manners is excellent . . . both fluent and funny . . . it is sharply written and astutely observed. This is an amusing and at times hilarious novel . . . The conclusion is moving, even redemptive . . . The Deaths is memorable and enjoyable (Novel of the Week The Tablet)

Product Description

Four families live in a beautiful stretch of English countryside in magnificent listed houses, built for the old aristocracy. They are the new aristocracy and the elite of their village: financiers, business tycoons, lawyers, doctors, magistrates. They leave their rural idyll only to commute first-class to London for meetings, deals and theatre outings or Heathrow flights to winter sun or half-term skiing. They and their children are protected by investments, pensions and expensive security systems. But the money is running out in Britain, and as tensions and relationships develop within the group of friends, finally, deep in the English winter, an unthinkable act of violence destroys these dream lives and demonstrates that the biggest threat may come from unexpected places. This horrific act happens on the first pages but Lawson provides dramatic twists and false turns and it is only by the end of the book that we discover who the victims are and who committed the crime. Mark Lawson’s first novel in eight years is his most ambitious yet. Combining ingenious plotting with forensic social comedy, this is a dark and brilliant novel of life in twenty-first-century England.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 741 KB
  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (12 Sep 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DZQYJ6C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #5,434 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very readable, well observed, satirically presented middle England social landscape, opened up by the act of violence which provides the plot. The 'depth' is in the social observation, highlighted by satirical distortion which sometimes verges on the absurd to portray the superficial and temporal nature of the comfortable affluence of a small cocoon in the Home Counties. This is not a Scandinavian thriller - the characters are caricatures as indeed is the social and economic context - but it pivots around the crime to provoke some (unanswered) questions about the 'something rotten' in contemporary times and mores. It is perhaps slightly longer than it should be but the story moves fast enough to want to get to the end.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
High living in Buckinghamshire. But the facade is fragile and behind the moneyed masses – for some – are stories of despair and disintegration.

Jason, the delivery driver for CapuccinGo (otherwise Nespresso I would guess) is on his rounds delivering the rainbow-coded coffee capsules to his rich punters. But he discovers a murderous rampage at one of the big 4 houses central to the narrative. The house is quiet, the dogs are dead. What further gruesome murders might there there be in one of the “best fuck-off houses in Bucks”?

Going backwards in time this is the story leading up to the murders in this mansion. Four couples – or, a ‘ruck of chums’ – have forged their lives together as a friendship group, based on acquisition of wealth. Everything is possible but the creeping and pernicious disintegration for some within the group has started. This is England in the noughties where the bankers have raked in a fortune but society is teetering – and so are some of the richer echelons. It is no longer Waitrose for some, but Aldi and Lidl and, oh dear, the Pound Shop.

This is indeed very much a social satire of the upper middle classes where the players are an easy target for parody. The Financial Times would have it that we can care about the characters – and I did want to because it is all too easy to hack away at the stereotypes; but I didn’t. As people they were pretty much interchangeable, but perhaps the author intended this with their braying voices and Puffa jackets and scant regard for others.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Murder by Recession? 14 Sep 2013
By Lincs Reader TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
The setting is a beautiful Berkshire village, a commuter village, on the London trainline. The characters are 'The Eight'; four couples who live with their assorted children and dogs in four wonderful houses. Houses that were built originally for the old aristocracy and have now been renovated and modernised to be occupied by the new elite. Bankers, financiers, doctors, lawyers, successful business people - these are the people that are reaping the rewards of the boom years. Seats in the first-class carriages on the daily commute, short breaks to Marrakesh and designer coffee - these are the important things in their lives. But things are changing in Britain, businesses are crumbling, the recession is hitting hard, how long can The Eight keep up their lifestyles, how long can they hide their problems from each other?

A terrible act of violence happens within the first few pages. One of the families is wiped out, a murder-suicide - the father kills his entire family. The mystery that the reader is faced with is which one of The Eight is no more? Mark Lawson has created an extremely clever, fairly complicated story here, but a story that is so compelling that despite the obnoxious characters, who I will admit that I hated from page one, it becomes one of those 'can't put down' books as the emotional fragilities and hidden secrets of each family is uncovered.

The world of designer coffee is central to this story. The reader is introduced to Jason, a delivery driver for CappuccinGo - an up-market drinks company who deliver their special coffee capsules to the new aristocracy. Jason has his own views about The Eight - they provide his living and he's grateful, but to him, this upper-class obsession with posh hot drinks is a real sign of the times.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Katharine Kirby TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Deaths by Mark Lawson

First! In a genuine attempt to be helpful I am going to offer up a cast list for you - something that is missing from the book and very sorely needed. (I got a quarter of the way in without untangling these awfully similar folk.) This list can be found in the comments section below, as I don't want to publish any spoilers or irritate readers who prefer to find out for themselves.

As to the story, well I assure you it is worth the effort of being introduced to the large cast. Totally up to the minute observations, preoccupations and attitudes. Twitter, Blackberry, iphone, mac books, posh coffee, flu pandemics fear, group pre Christmas shopping trips to Marrakesh, lady vicars, it's all in here.

There is a whiff of `A Casual Vacancy' blowing through it, as this follows similar themes of keeping up pretences, minor aspirations to be more like others around you than is possible, and insincere friendships, associations.

I was horribly gripped by the story, and carried my kindle around until it was done and dusted. It was helpful to keep a notepad to hand. Predicting who would do what and when became a puzzle worthy of a crossword compiler.

Embarrassingly, I thoroughly enjoyed the ghastly `Shaudenfraude' element. I recognised the characters, who are perhaps caricatures, but still stuck me as familiar. And, the true test of a good book, all the hours that we were separated, I was wistfully yearning to get back to `The Deaths'...

Great work, Mark Lawson, shame about some of the typos and mistakes but it raced along with me chasing behind. I shall be more observant of the people who use First Class rail travel!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Stuff
Mark Lawson isn't a particularly prolific author, but his books are always worth investigating. He has a talent for crafting compelling, thoughtful narratives populated by... Read more
Published 2 days ago by Etienne Hanratty
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved the way this book was written and the way ...
Despite the fact that not one of the characters is sympathetic in any way at all, I loved the way this book was written and the way the characters are portrayed.
Published 13 days ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars ... book club and a lot if the others really enjoyed it!
Really struggled with this book - but did read it for book club and a lot if the others really enjoyed it!
Published 19 days ago by Hannah
5.0 out of 5 stars Much better than reviews would suggest
Had low expectations and rattled through the opening chapters -before I realised it was really rather good and that I wasn't doing it justice. Read more
Published 23 days ago by Stuart Merchant
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved this book!
Published 27 days ago by Hayley l Etherington
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice twist filled plot with colorful characters and some enjoyable...
A nice twist filled plot with colorful characters and some enjoyable dialogue. I would like to read more from Mark Lawson based on this novel.
Published 1 month ago by Beefer28
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
It dragged
Published 1 month ago by dr s divall
4.0 out of 5 stars entertaining and dark
Regardless of finding each of the main eight characters in this book wholly despicable, i really enjoyed the storty and found it hard to put down. Read more
Published 1 month ago by SLC
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and well observed
I struggled at the start of this book to distinguish the different characters (and never managed to figure out which child belonged to whom) but ended up really enjoying the book... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Damo Green
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of flaws but I enjoyed this. Just one thing that really bugged me
Lots of flaws but I enjoyed this. Just one thing that really bugged me, apart from the irritating and unconvincing teenage dialogue. Have none of these women heard of the Pill ? Read more
Published 1 month ago by amanda gardner
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