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20 of 20 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 An excellent murder mystery, 31 May 2000
This review is from: The Unburied (Paperback)
Dr Courtine is an investigative historian taking advantage of a little spare time before Christmas to study his favourite subject, Alfred the Great. Instead of a little quiet solitude, Dr. Courtine becomes involved in an investigation of a disappearance two hundred years ago, uncovers lies and deceit with regards to his manuscript and becomes embroiled in a murder investigation. Throw in the ghost and a shifty former best friend, and all Palliser's ingredients are in place. Written through accounts as opposed to narrative, along the same lines as Bram Stoker's "Dracula", The Unburied is a compelling piece of historical fiction that evokes the late Victorian period vividly. The setting, characters and most of all the strong plot which maintains intrigue throughout, result in a fantastic read. This is the first Palliser novel I have read, I do not intend to stop there.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I think I think it was a great book., 5 Jun. 2000
By 
This review is from: The Unburied (Paperback)
This book is a funny old bird. It's an on-the-fencer. I got so involved in it that I read it in one sitting, yet, the ending left me so bemused that I felt Mr Paliser had stayed up late, like myself, in order to finish it. The plot, or should I say plots, no plot will do, rather cleverly revolves around three mysteries in history focusing around the Cathedral. The mysteries, however, are not the central story, that role is given to human nature, more particularly, man's greed and self-absorption. The use of the Sleeping-Beauty-esque tale at the end is also a clever placement, showing the narrator of the Account's own insecurity and vulnerability. I would, at the end of the day, recommend this work to anyone interested in historic fiction, detective fiction, or good old-fashioned "anti-philanthropy".
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." WSC, 22 Nov. 2002
By 
taking a rest - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Unburied (Paperback)
The title of this review was borrowed from Sir Winston Spencer Churchill. I use the quotation here, as I believe it describes this book beautifully. This book is my first introduction to the work of Mr. Palliser who, as an author, was unknown to me prior to this volume. I actually bought the novel based upon a quote on the jacket that referred to Mr. Palliser unburying the memory of author Wilkie Collins as well as others not named.
Mr. Collins is credited by some for creating the mystery novel, and is known for such works as "The Moonstone" and "The Woman In White". He was a friend of Charles Dickens and they published a literary paper together for a time. Some scholars suggest that the book Mr. Dickens was writing, but died before finishing; "The Mystery Of Edwin Drood" was influenced by Mr. Collins.
This is one of the top 10 books of this genre I have ever read. I actually bought the Author's previous book "The Quincunx" before I had reached the mid-point of "The Unburied". If, as some have written, the book prior to this was even better, I look forward to it being astonishing. If it proves only as good as this book, I would be thrilled.
The book has an interesting structure with an unusual note at the beginning and end. I will say no more than that. Between those notes is a mystery of the highest caliber. Characters whose names are reminiscent and are a tribute to Dickens are employed by Palliser, not simply badly copied. A plot that while complex, can also be followed, but the reader must pay careful attention. Paper and pen to diagram relationships amongst the players does not hurt, it also allows you to continue hypothesizing when reading is impractical. For those who like naming the conspirators or detailing the crime before the book reveals its secrets, just as objects and people, both living and dead, throughout the book do, will, I believe find this tale wonderfully frustrating. It keeps its secrets until the end, but there is more.
Every time you are tempted to think aha! I got it; a few pages later will have you questioning how you ever could have had such a solution. And the Author does not use simplistic literary tricks, the information is there, the reader has to find it. This Author pays tribute to his readers by challenging them to match wits, as opposed to handing down a cliché or a re-write of a familiar tale. Mr. Palliser makes you work, he makes you think, he offers bits of information that are false leads unless you catch them before being duped, and admitting for the 10th time your aha! was really another trap, presumption led you to.
The book is like the wind and the Author the wind's master, your hat or paper are blown from you, and each time it pauses and you reach for it, away it flies once more. When you finally grasp it you stand to find you have been lead into a labyrinth, and the task you thought was complete has just begun. Get this prize of a book, you will not be disappointed.
I am off to start The Quincunx!
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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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4.0 out of 5 stars Intricate plot weaving, 10 Dec. 2013
This review is from: The Unburied (Paperback)
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 be solved from 250 years earlier. In addition, the professional reputation of the main character depends on finding a seventeenth century document containing an account of an event that took place in the ninth century. Round all this off with events that take place in the early twentieth century and you have part of the recipe of Charles Palliser's novel, The Unburied.

Other ingredients include highlighting the treatment of women in the nineteenth century, troubled relationships, prejudice, hints of paedophilia, treacherous friends, old quarrels, and fairy tales, all set in an old cathedral town. Academic jealousy and internal politics all play a part in the events of Palliser's 1999 novel.

Palliser seems to revel in creating multi-layered stories with events in one timeline paralleling those in another. In this case he also has fairy tales that seem to reflect the live action and emotional turmoil.

There is much of the Gothic in this novel. Not just the cathedral and its dark and dismal surroundings, but also the unnerving behaviour of some of the characters, family secrets, hidden places, an ancient library, and plenty of deception and ulterior motives.

This is the third Charles Palliser novel I have read and I have enjoyed all three. Like his latest novel, Rustication, Palliser has used the mechanism of an old document being the core of his book with the document sandwiched between a foreword and afterword by the "editor". Another of his techniques is keeping the reader wondering how reliable the narrator is. As with Rustication I felt, right up to the end, that the narrator could be spinning the reader a big yarn. Misdirection is a real skill of Palliser and I think The Unburied is a very enjoyable read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars This one exercises your brain, 6 Dec. 2011
This review is from: The Unburied (Paperback)
All of the action in this novel takes place in a small but ecclesiastically significant English cathedral town in the late eighteenth century.

The story is narrated in the first person by a man named Dr Courtine, a historian, who visits the cathedral town just before Christmas following an invitation from an old college friend. The town is shrouded in wintry fog, light is from candles and gas lamps and it is very cold - a stage very clearly set for mysteries and misdeeds.

I found this to be a challenging read at times, more challenging than any modern novel that I have read recently. Dr Courtine is an academic, he reads dense historical texts and there are quite a few extracts from these texts to be found in this novel. Not being a fan of ninth century history, I found these hard going and had to work quite hard to keep my attention focussed. A great deal of attention is also placed on ecclesiastical hierarchies and cathedral architecture, neither of which are very familiar to me, which added to the challenge of the book.

However, persevering was worthwhile - by the time that the action got under way, I was hooked and the book became a page turner.

In conclusion, a very satisfying read that exercises your brain - unusual, I think, in a modern novel.
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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 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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4.0 out of 5 stars Gothic Murder Mystery done good!, 20 April 2000
By 
Ms. Lesa Smith (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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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The Unburied
The Unburied by Charles Palliser (Paperback - 1 Nov. 2000)
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