There are three seperate tales interwoven in this novel - three tales of murder and duplicity. They could all be called ghost stories, for the mysteries they relate can never be resolved, the victims and the perpetrators never laid to rest.
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.Read more ›
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