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30 Reviews
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flat? Drawbacks? No way - this is a great book!
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...
Published on 14 Oct 2002 by London reader

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Average
Reading the other reviews on here makes me wonder if I missed something completely in this book. It's OK, fairly standard plot, not great dialogue but it's entertaining and gripping enough to be enjoyed.

I don't understand the 'complex' plot comments though. Sure, there's more than one plot going on and there's very obvious parallels between two of them but is...
Published on 22 Jan 2007 by Mr. M. Read


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book, although a little flat in parts, 5 May 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Unburied (Hardcover)
This was a good book, I would recommend it to those who enjoy reading suspense or mystery novels. The book was well layed out and managed to connect a series of murders that happened during three different historical periods. The author did a fine job of keeping the reader in the dark until the final pages of the book. I particularly enjoyed the author's witty views on academia. My only criticism was that the book could have been more descriptive. I enjoy gothic-style novels for their dark descriptions, of which this book was somewhat lacking. All in all, a good book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Victorian murder mystery, 2 May 2010
By 
Helen S - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Unburied (Paperback)
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 Rose by Umberto Eco or An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears. I wanted to read it because a few years ago I read another Charles Palliser book, The Quincunx, which I really enjoyed. Like The Quincunx, this one is set (mostly) in Victorian England. It begins with a mock 'Editor's Foreword' in which we are told that we are about to read an account which will throw new light on the controversial Thurchester Mystery. This account, known as The Courtine Account, forms the bulk of the book.

Dr Edward Courtine, a historian from Cambridge University, has been invited to spend the week before Christmas with Austin Fickling, an old friend from his student days who is now teaching at a school in the cathedral city of Thurchester. He and Austin haven't seen each other since they parted on bad terms twenty years ago, and Courtine is eager to renew their friendship. He also has another reason for wanting to visit Thurchester - he has been studying King Alfred the Great and has learned that an ancient manuscript detailing the events of Alfred's reign may be available in Thurchester Library. On the night of Courtine's arrival he hears the story of a murder that took place in the cathedral two centuries earlier. Courtine is fascinated, but as he begins to investigate he becomes involved in another murder mystery - and discovers Austin's true motive for inviting him to Thurchester.

As the main narrator of the book, I found Courtine very irritating, but at the same time I felt slightly sorry for him. For such an obviously intelligent person he was completely lacking in perception, constantly saying the wrong things, missing important clues and failing to notice people behaving suspiciously. Sometimes he would tell us that he was beginning to form a theory or that an idea had occurred to him, but he didn't let us know what it was. This was good in one way, as it encouraged me to work things out for myself, but it also annoyed me because I was already finding it difficult enough to keep all the threads of the story straight.

Although the town of Thurchester and its community are vividly depicted, I didn't find any of the characters particularly memorable. As for the plot, it's so intricate you really need to read this book in as few sittings as possible so you don't forget any important details. There seemed to be a constant stream of unexplained deaths and forged documents, with at least three separate mysteries from different eras all running parallel to each other - and different characters giving different versions of what may or may not have happened. I wished I had been taking notes from the beginning.

This is a very atmospheric book with lots of gothic elements, from the freezing fog that accompanies Courtine's arrival in Thurchester to the obligatory 'ghost' supposedly haunting the cathedral. It would have been a good book to read in front of the fire on a cold winter's night. In spite of the slow pace the book was relatively quick to read and although it was certainly confusing, I did enjoy it, especially when the various mysteries began to unravel towards the end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A master story teller, 29 April 2009
By 
H. Lacroix (France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Unburied (Paperback)
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. It is the story of a Cambridge man ,Edward Courtine, honest but somewhat easy to mislead, who visits a former friend of his 20 years after they last saw each other, in the small university town of Thurchester in the year 1882.Courtine is eager to renew a friendship that has been lost and to find a manuscript supposed to reside in the Thurchester library that might enable him to prove a historical point and gain an enviable position at his university. In Thurchester Courtine will learn many of the town's secrets and legends including that of a famous murder in the cathedral 200 years before but what he will only realize too late is that he has been duped and betrayed and that his visit is no coincidence at all. Some people with dark deeds on their minds need him to be there and to witness certain events...
A fascinating book about trust, betrayal, love, friendship, conceit, guilt, ambition ,greed, stupidity it is a literary masterpiece that gives the reader infinite pleasure, leads us astray before finally setting us on the right path. There are only a very limited number of writers whose stories have interested and challenged me as much as Palliser's. It would be a great pity not to read it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding Imagination, 15 Jan 2009
This review is from: The Unburied (Paperback)
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.

I have just finished it. It is 380 pages or so long, but in practice this means nearly 800 pages as it needs to be re-read fairly soon after the first attempt, to capture all the sly clues and subtleties which the author leaves in his wake.

Other reviewers have picked up some small flaws - the odd longeur, maybe a hint of ananchronistic dialogue. But so what? The scale and ingenuity of these intertwined mysteries, the crafty detail and the deftly hinted kinkiness fluttering beneath the surface combine to create a remarkable intellectual experience. For people interested in the very idea of history, the clever and often cynical exchanges about what gets recorded for posterity and by whom are also finely worked.

Anyway, here's a tiny clue. If you want to kill someone, the problem lies in showing that you were not there when the deed was done. So how to get round that ..?
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4.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic Gothic whodunnit with depth, 15 Feb 2000
This review is from: The Unburied (Paperback)
Barchester Towers fused with Conan Doyle. This is a fantastic novel that interweaves the intrigue and petty politivs of a 19th century English Cathederal close with a pretty tense psychological thriller. There are dead bodies everywhere, although the chronological spacing between each death can be measured in centuries. In particular, the majority of the book is written in the first person, with all the subjectivity of observation that this entails. The narrator is frustratingly obtuse (in the Dr Watson way) and the reader constantly feels like shaking him by the lapels. However, that's the real point. The story is really just a parable for the main theme that pervades the book and is hinted at in the title. A fantastic and complex work of fiction truly worthy of the Quincuncx.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Murder mystery set in the 19th Century, 31 Jan 2000
This review is from: The Unburied (Paperback)
A murder mystery, or rather many murder mysteries, revolving around an eminent historian who travels to a west country town to visit his old friend and to research Medieval text from the library of the nearby Church. The reader will have to keep up with the intricate plot twists and balance the many inter-connected stories that weave between one another. By the end, you'll be skipping back pages to go over the important bits, but you'll be left with a very satisfying feeling. It has been compared with Instance of the Fingerpost, but I think this was much better.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Average, 22 Jan 2007
By 
Mr. M. Read "mdaread" (Bristol, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Unburied (Paperback)
Reading the other reviews on here makes me wonder if I missed something completely in this book. It's OK, fairly standard plot, not great dialogue but it's entertaining and gripping enough to be enjoyed.

I don't understand the 'complex' plot comments though. Sure, there's more than one plot going on and there's very obvious parallels between two of them but is that all a book needs to make it complex? It's quite easy to follow and, I found, didn't need too much concentration, unless you're hell bent on finding out who the killer is before the end of the book, which I wasn't, mainly because I find I didn't really care too much.

Unless I've been completely stupid and missed some fabulously intricate sub plot that weaves between the stories, then this is (I imagine, because I don't read too many of them) a standard historical murder mystery. If this is really as others have said, the cream of that particular crop, then I don't imagine I'll be reading too many more of them.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Gothic Murder Mystery done good!, 20 April 2000
By 
Ms. Lesa Smith (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Unburied (Paperback)
This is the sort of book that will have you wanting to read it again. I found it a bit confusing to begin with. You really have concentrate on EVERYTHING that is going on in the book, down to things said by each character. I don't agree that it's better than Instance of the Fingerpost but it's certainly a great read fro those who wanted a meatier murder mystery to read. Well worth buying.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Difficult, 17 May 2014
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This review is from: The Unburied (Paperback)
This book really took all my concentration to complete ,difficult to fathom out at times . Glad it's finished finally
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5.0 out of 5 stars An impressive chiller., 29 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Unburied (Paperback)
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.
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The Unburied
The Unburied by Charles Palliser (Paperback - 1 Nov 2000)
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