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The Unburied [Paperback]

Charles Palliser
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 Jan 2000
Dr Courtine, an unworldly academic is visiting an old friend in the Cathedral town of Thurchester in the late 1870s. On his first night he is told the story of the town ghost, a legend deeply mired in the medieval intrigues of the Cathedral when two prominent churchmen met their deaths in unexplained circumstances. The story of dark deeds in the ancient close captures Courtine¿s donnish imagination, and he is also embarking on some amateur sleuthing of his own ¿ attempting to track down an elusive 11th century manuscript to prove his theories about the life of King Alfred. Suitably distracted, Courtine becomes the unwitting witness to a terrible crime committed on his own doorstep ¿


Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New Ed edition (6 Jan 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753807688
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753807682
  • Product Dimensions: 2.4 x 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 556,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

A Victorian tale of murder and deception set in an English cathedral close

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First Sentence
WHILE MY MEMORY IS FRESH I am going to describe exactly what I saw and heard on the occasion, less than a week past, when I encountered a man who was walking about just like you and me-despite the inconvenience of having been brutally done to death. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flat? Drawbacks? No way - this is a great book! 14 Oct 2002
Format:Paperback
A terrific, thoughtful and deeply engaging mystery, this book completely tangles you into the gothic, foggy, deceptive world it describes. I've rarely read something so exceptionally well-crafted and intelligent. Moreover, it's not the pretentious, associative rambling that often passes for 'literary' writing, but tightly focussed story and characterisation. The narrator is sometimes half-informed, or untrustworthy, or disoriented - that's the point, the reader has to do some work to discover what's going on! So refreshing to have to engage with a work and really think about what's happening on a myriad of levels. This book makes you puzzle over themes of history, story-telling, reliable narration, constructing truth from what we see and read and hear, but all in a completely involving way. And that's one lesson you come away with, and made me go straight back to the beginning of the book: narrative curiosity and that itching hunger to find out the truth are what makes us read and learn and basically get out and live. This book is wonderful precisely because it plays games and infuriates and makes you go backward and forward - and anyone who considers themselves a reader of crime, historical fiction or 'literature' should give this a go and see what the novel form can still do.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading more than once 3 May 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed this work. thw writer is extremely intelligent and his half Gothic half murder mystery novel touched on a lot of themes. Whereas for me with most murder mysteries I cannot be interested enough to work out who might be the murderer, this novel like Dostoyevsky's uses a whodunnit theme to investigate a number of subjects-faith, the nature of evil and the nature of history or historical truth and keeps interest in the entire mystery alive. What I found frustrating was that I was not so far able to concentrate as to be able to unravel all they mystery of the book even after a second read. The writer cleverely evokes the atmosphere of the time, although I think he occasionally slips in the dioalogue, which once or twice ocmes across as not quite period.
I felt that I must be a bit stupid (I am slow on the uptake about people and their motivations in real life) and the book can have a depressing effect in the sense that the normal reader may feel he/she is rather dim witted compared to the author. But how refreshing to find an intelligent novel, a novel from which one can learn something, a novel which is both an excape and not an escape, that is to say an escape into a foggy Gothic world which enthralls and at the same time a discussion of subjects which are contemporary (what is historical truth is a very very hot subject-consider the Shakespeare authorship debate and the reassessment of historical figures such as Richard 111 for example) a novel which is worth reading twice or even three times and for that reason is worth its price more than most novels.
If you you like at least two of these writers I think you will like this book: Umberto Eco/Mervyn Peake/ Agatha Christi/Brontes
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Triumphant Return of the Victorian Novel 16 Dec 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Charles Palliser is the author who brought the Victorian novel out of the drawing room with The Quincunx, a fast-paced novel of adventure and intrigue.
With The Unburied, however, he takes us back into the drawing room...literally. Much of this book involves fireside conversation over sherry or port, and much of it moves at a pace that would make writers such as Dickens and George Eliot proud.
At first glance, The Unburied seems to be no more than a ghost story, and it is certainly atmospheric, filled as it is with all the spookiness and gloom one usually finds only in the Gothic form of the genre. Palliser, however, deviates somewhat from a standard thriller as he leads us down first one unexpected path, then another.
The book centers on the character of Dr. Edward Courtine, an academic who has come to the English town of Thurchester to visit an old acquaintance. Courtine gradually learns the details of a murder at the local cathedral more than two centuries earlier and of a ghost that some still believe to haunt the area. Courtine, however, hasn't come to Thurchester to hunt ghosts; he has come to look for a lost book about Alfred the Great. So great is his preoccupation with his search, in fact, that he overlooks what the reader can see quite clearly: all of the townsfolk are acting as if they had something to hide.
It is at this point that the unexpected paths make their first appearance. Unexpected paths, red herrings, false clues, the reader really doesn't know what to make of this story. Is the centuries old murder the book's focal point or is it, instead, the murder that has just been committed? Perhaps it both.
Palliser cleverly uses a recently revealed manuscript as a framing device and proceeds to tell his tale in the first-person, with Courtine as the narrator.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
If you like a good mystery to get your teeth into, have a gnaw on The Unburied! Charles Palliser's fine storytelling is a little reminiscent of Colin Dexter; they both give you all the clues you need to solve the mystery, but you must pay very close attention! I was also reminded of Wilkie Collins, especially by the abundance of strange and unlikely characters! Palliser's intricately woven plots are every bit as labyrinthine as the cathedral whose looming, foreboding presence dominates the atmosphere of this novel. The cathedral is reminiscent in its bearing of Hardy's Egdon Heath in The Return of the Native; it is omnipresent and threatening, unwilling to give up its secrets. The stories within the story are cleverly entwined and have their parallels... If I had any criticisms they would relate to the Alfred the Great link which I did find tedious at times. Some of the dialogue is a little unnatural especially when the main character first reunites with his old school friend and there is too much pontificating. Despite these minor gripes, The Unburied is a thoroughly riveting and entertaining read which will keep you guessing (rightly or wrongly) up to the very end and the somewhat disturbing last sentence!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Book in lesser state as stated, but fast delivery
Published 25 days ago by els willems
2.0 out of 5 stars Difficult
This book really took all my concentration to complete ,difficult to fathom out at times . Glad it's finished finally
Published 3 months ago by Joseph O'halloran
5.0 out of 5 stars An impressive chiller.
This is such an excellent book. The atmosphere so well re-created. Can almost smell the cathedral, and the bones therein. I learnt a great deal, too. The research is impressive.
Published 4 months ago by J.S Millward
4.0 out of 5 stars Intricate plot weaving
This book is primarily a murder mystery with more than one murder. The main murder mystery is set in the late nineteenth century, but there is another murder, or possibly more, to... Read more
Published 8 months ago by P. McCLEAN
1.0 out of 5 stars What a let down
What a disappointment this book was. I bought it on the strength of other reviews.
Every time I thought it was getting interesting the plot trailed off and never revealed what... Read more
Published on 22 Feb 2012 by Katie bushell
4.0 out of 5 stars This one exercises your brain
All of the action in this novel takes place in a small but ecclesiastically significant English cathedral town in the late eighteenth century. Read more
Published on 6 Dec 2011 by Scholastica
5.0 out of 5 stars Keeps you gripped - and then you have to read it again
This is (like other Charles Palliser) a fantastic whodunnit, but also an exploration of people's motivations. It's one of those books that plays with your head. Read more
Published on 19 Jan 2011 by T. W. P. Esq
4.0 out of 5 stars A Victorian murder mystery
The title of this book may suggest a horror story complete with zombies and vampires, but The Unburied is actually a scholarly murder mystery which reminded me of The Name of the... Read more
Published on 2 May 2010 by Helen S
5.0 out of 5 stars A master story teller
I have just finished reading 'the unburied' for the second time and once more I am amazed at the quality of the prose and the cleverness of the plot with its many twists and turns. Read more
Published on 29 April 2009 by H. Lacroix
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding Imagination
I read the Quincunx ages ago in one marathon sitting. Having lent the book to a long-lost friend, I recently bought it again via Amazon and saw this one too. Read more
Published on 15 Jan 2009 by SkatertnyP
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