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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, truly original thriller
Sheila Redling's debut novel is one of the most original and yet credible thrillers I have read for years. The setting is the site of a chemical spill, where the people exposed to the chemical have been walled in in the Flowertown of the title to prevent them contaminating the rest of the country. It's an interesting proposition on its own, but the plot just carries on...
Published on 26 Mar 2012 by S. P. Long

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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lightweight, flawed but readable conspiracy thriller
An entertaining enough read, particularly the early part where scene is set and characters developed. The setting is a 'quarentined' town, thanks to a chemical leak, being run by the very company that caused the leak in the first place and populated by the poor people who happened to be there when the leak occured.

There are 4 main characters of which 2.5 are...
Published on 4 July 2012 by Misty


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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, truly original thriller, 26 Mar 2012
By 
S. P. Long "Simon Long" (Cambridge) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Flowertown (Paperback)
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Sheila Redling's debut novel is one of the most original and yet credible thrillers I have read for years. The setting is the site of a chemical spill, where the people exposed to the chemical have been walled in in the Flowertown of the title to prevent them contaminating the rest of the country. It's an interesting proposition on its own, but the plot just carries on developing into one of the best conspiracy theory novels I can remember reading.

It grips from very early on - I read it cover to cover in two sittings. The characters and dialogue are believable and well-sketched. One word of caution is that a few scenes are rather gruesome to read, but they are entirely consistent with the plot and in no way gratuitous. The blurb makes comparisons to Michael Crichton and Dennis Lehane, and both are valid, but the author this most reminded me of was the little-known Christopher Hyde, whose techno-thrillers are based around similar left-field ideas.

In an age where so many thrillers are me-too copies of other successful books, this title deserves to do well for daring to come up with an original idea. I shall be awaiting Ms Redling's next novel with eagerness!
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lightweight, flawed but readable conspiracy thriller, 4 July 2012
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This review is from: Flowertown (Kindle Edition)
An entertaining enough read, particularly the early part where scene is set and characters developed. The setting is a 'quarentined' town, thanks to a chemical leak, being run by the very company that caused the leak in the first place and populated by the poor people who happened to be there when the leak occured.

There are 4 main characters of which 2.5 are well rounded.
The main character Ellie and her development arc through the story are well done. She is foul-mouthed, agressive and usually stoned, but likeable for all that.
The sub-plot of her room-mate Rachel's quest for a day out is nicely interspersed and serves to draw you away from the adventure and into the personal horror such a confinement would induce.
Bing is well written (up to a point) and it's really only Guy who feels a little 2-D (and given how smelly his girlfriend seems I'm guessing his nose is also lacking...)
The development of the 'world' is introduced at a good pace through the story too. At least it is intially, and this is where the stars drop away for me somewhat, because as the plot progresses it gets harder to believe.

I don't want to give the plot away so I will say that once a book makes a reader start to question the 'reality' they have created, then the strings of the plot have started to unravel, and this is where the final 1/3 of the book was less compelling for me. Also the charcter led 'twist' was far too obvious.

So in summary I enjoyed and devoured the first part of the book, but found it less and less engaging as it progressed towards its climax, which in a way is the worst thing you can say about a thriller (better a slow build than a disappointing apex).
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pacey thriller - but with lots of evocative detail too, 3 May 2012
By 
S. Diment "sue_diment" (Wolverhampton, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Flowertown (Paperback)
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The novel opens with Ellie, the central character. She has just come back from an encounter with Guy, who is not contaminated from the experimental pesticide accident that has poisoned Flowertown's residents. Instead he is one of the army detail sent to keep order and ensure all the rules are adhered to in Flowertown, which these days is more of a ghetto than a town. Guy and Ellie are breaking several of those rules by having a relationship. Redling introduces us to Flowertown through Ellie. Ellie isn't local to the area, so has no family in the town (or even friends from before the accident). She has lost her fiance, her successful job in advertising, and her health. Now she has been blue-tagged, which means her liver is failing from the contamination and her days are numbered. Even her appearance and her pride in herself are clearly not worth very much to her these days.

It's refreshing to read a novel where the story is told so clearly through the lives of the characters - we learn more about what Flowertown is like as place to live through this initial introduction to Ellie's life than reams of description could tell us. The novel starts slowly, setting the scene and building up a picture of Ellie's life and her limited society - the medical centre where all residents go for their constant medication, the corner supermarket, the office where she works, and her shared bedsit. Gradually there are hints that things in Flowertown are changing - there are increasingly less supplies in the shops, the army and Feno security (Feno is the company responsible for the contamination) are more heavy handed, and dangerous incidents start to occur. From the beginning, Ellie is at the centre of events, despite being an outsider in the town. There is a Kafka-esque sense of events occurring to a pattern that is pre-programmed, but she doesn't know the pattern or have any control over it, despite being treated by the authorities as though she is somehow central to the trouble. As things get worse, Ellie stops living her life in a haze from smoking weed, and decides to try and figure out what's going on. Gradually she becomes part of the events for real, rather than being blamed for things she hasn't done.

The novel builds the tension beautifully - you just have time to absorb the strangeness of life in Flowertown before it begins to change, and just as watching Ellie getting overtaken by events starts to pall, she begins to try and take control of her life. The later part of the novel becomes a race against time to work out how events are being manipulated before it becomes too late. By then, the reader is totally drawn into the little world Redling has created, and the unbelievable has become totally believeable.

This novel works well on many levels - the pace starts slowly and keeps accelerating right up the final chapters. The characters are unique and interesting, and we only know what Ellie knows, so the story is very much a personal experience. The setting is original, and detailed, yet not too heavy on description. Redling paints a very clear picture in only a few words. Finally, in Ellie we have a heroine who starts the story having lost everything, including most of her self respect, but learns to fight again to get her own life back. The first few pages of this book hint at the quality of Redling's writing, and once you've read the first few pages, you won't be able to put this book down. I would agree with other reviewers who have said it would make a good film - it will need to be a good film too if it is to live up to the standard of the book.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chemical Company Conspiracy, 28 Mar 2012
By 
J. Morris "Josh" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Flowertown (Paperback)
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Flowertown is a secure town in rural Idaho. Seven years ago, a prototype pesticide infected the soil, groundwater & residents, the chemical company responsible PennCo, placed the entire town and a 3 mile radius around it under containment. Years of treatments and medication have left the remaining local's sweat stinking of flowers, hence the name Flowertown.

When a series of bombings in the heavily authoritarian ruled town expose some glaring ethical issues in their treatment, the residents & especially Ellie, begin to think that the security company Feno & the government troops might not be serving their best interests. But how high up does this conspiracy go? Will anyone survive?

Flowertown is a pleasure to read, Redling's accessible writing style means that the story flows naturally whilst conspiracy plotlines bubble just beneath the surface. When the action kicks off, it is easy to follow and the twist is well hidden. This is an interesting novel about corporate espionage, responsibility & ethics whilst all the while remaining plausible and for this reason it has Orwellian Nineteen Eighty-Four overtones.

Well written, truly original, light enough at 357 pages, and a paranoid anti-corporate dream. Recommended!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real page turner, 24 Mar 2012
By 
PJ Rankine (Wallington, Surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Flowertown (Paperback)
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I have to agree with the previous reviewer, this is a real page turner. Set in a world so squalid and so well described that every time I put it down I needed to go and have a shower this is that all-American favourite - the big conspiracey. Ellie lives in a town that was sealed off from the outside world when a chemical spill infected the entire population. Those that didn't die live isolated from the rest of the world in what is no more than a refugee camp where they survive on a constant diet of poor food, brutal medication and cannabis. The town is protected by the Army and the company's security goons but when the soldiers withdraw and the food starts to dwindle our heroine starts to realise that maybe something bad is going on and starts to investigate. For a good conspiracey novel to succeed the reader needs to know no more than the heroine and the author has achieved that here very well. There are no simplistic puzzles for her to figure out like in the 'Da Vinci Code'. What she knows you know and nothing more. You won't find out what's happening or who to trust until Ellie does and even then there will still be surprises.
My only slightly critical comment would be that a lot of it reads like a film and I can't help wondering if the author has an eye on being the next 'Hunger Games' but don't let that stop you buying and enjoying what is a highly enjoyable read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping!, 21 Jun 2012
This review is from: Flowertown (Kindle Edition)
Having stumbled on this book, I was intrigued by the idea of it, and having read the kindle sample I was hooked! I have read it in one
sitting. The plot is superb, based on the consequences and far-reaching effects of a chemical spill. A real good tale of corporate corruption and plenty of twists and turns. Ellie, the central character, is believable and unpredictable which is refreshing. If you enjoy authors such as Michael Crichton then I think you will like this book as it is of the same high quality. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars haunting conspiracy thriller, 7 May 2012
By 
H. Ashford "hashford" (Sheffield, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Flowertown (Paperback)
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This story is told through the eyes of Ellie, whose health is compromised through contamination from an experimental pesticide. As a result, she is forced to live in a secure town, called Flowertown, which is run on very authoritarian lines.

At the start, Ellie is more interested in her relationship with Guy, one of the soldiers sent to "police" the town - a relationship which is forbidden and has to stay hidden. However, as conditions in Flowertown get worse, Ellie finds herself caught up in events she simply has to get to the bottom of.

I loved this book. It's a thriller, so you expect it to be plot led, and indeed the plot is well constructed and credible, the pace starts slow and increases as the tension builds up, and there is a twist that I didn't see coming.

However, what makes it stand out for me is the quality of the characterisations. The characters are likeable and empathetic. You can really imagine being there yourself and understand just how awful their situation is and how helpless and trapped they feel.

An original idea, a compelling story, and great characters ... I hope they make a film of it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'll back you to a point, pal, 21 Dec 2013
By 
MisterHobgoblin (Melbourne) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Flowertown (Kindle Edition)
Flowertown starts so well. It creates a menacing world in which a town and its people have been quarantined following a chemical spill. The medicines people take to combat the poisons make them smell of flowers, hence Flowertown. The world is well created; it is frustrating but necessary. People suffer privations, but it is for the greater good.

Of course, it turns out that sinister things are afoot. But these reveal themselves gradually. This is a slow burner of a thriller with the first half, at least, caught up on the domesticity of the situation. Ellie, for example, is a university graduate who was caught in the town as she was saving for an adventure in Spain with her boyfriend. But the boyfriend died in the early days of the spill, leaving Ellie trapped, eking out an existence as a filing clerk in the records office, smoking dope to numb the pain. There are other cases of people whose lives took a downturn - the professor who ended up running a papershop - as all the jobs of consequence go to the army or the personnel from the pharmaceutical company.

Ellie is the novel's star. Foul-mouthed, fatalistic, petulant. She spends most of her time self-consciously telling everyone she doesn't give a stuff. She seeks comfort from her best friend Bing, a clerk from the floor below, and her room-mate Rachel who is a goody-two shoes, slavishly following the programme to get a 48 hour pass to visit her family. Oh, and there's Guy Roman, a soldier with an unlikely name and the pulling power of a tow-truck. Alongside a credible cast of supporting characters, they explore both the strategic and personal impacts of the quarantine.

Now, I wanted an easy read - some interesting ideas and a well developed world. And for 90% of the book, it delivered - even if it was turning into a bit of a breathless chase by that point. But, at the 90% mark (thank goodness for Kindles' percentage display) there was a twist that simply defied belief. All the good work to that point was shattered as readers were expected to accept a paradigm shift that was inconsistent with the basic premises we had come to believe. It's not simply that the twist was unwelcome, it is that it shatters the consistency of the novel up to that point. And when a reader loses the suspension of disbelief, the game's up. A book cannot recover once the reader no longer believes the writer. The characters crumble, the story is just words on a page. It is such a pity because, up to that point, Flowertown had real promise.

Oh, and at the risk of spoiling things, the ending contains a huge signpost that a sequel is in the offing. It might as well have said "to be continued". Sadly, I won;t be continuing because I no longer believe in the people or their story. But three stars for the well-written bulk of the book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flowertown, 22 Mar 2012
By 
A. Lucas "bookworm" (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Flowertown (Paperback)
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This is one of those rare books where I wish there were MORE stars we could award. I just couldn't put it down... in fact, I tried to put it down and go to sleep - but couldn't rest until I had put the lamp back on and read through to the finish! Then, of course, I was upset that it was all over. Hopefully, from the way the book ended, ther could well be a follow up....so, fingers crossed.

The characters are likeable and you can really put yourselves in their situation, and just imagine how awful it must be to live in a quarantined area, where you can't leave, and outsiders can't visit. There is only very limited telephone/internet access to the outside world, and obviously there are only limited amounts of jobs and as everyone is ill from the decontamination drugs, there isn't really a social life for the poor people of Flowertown. All they do is shuffle papers in their jobs, get high on home grown weed and live in sub-standard apartment buildings. Occasionally, suitable people can be put through a dreadful detox programme and leave for 48hrs, although places to visit are limited, as there has to be special facilities provided so nobody else is contaminated.

There doesn't seem to be a lot of hope for the people of Flowertown. Or does there?? Could there be cryptic messages in the home-produced local newsletter? Are there hidden meanings when people speak to each other and say the words "all you want" in conversation?

It's a fantastic journey finding out the answers to those questions and more. I absolutely loved this book, and will recommend it to anyone and everyone!

Just one teeny, tiny niggling thing...... it seemed that in any situation, for any reason, any person would "bend at the waist". I'd be really interested to find out just how many times somebody 'bent at the waist' - so if anyone is reading this review and then goes on to read the book - PLEASE make a note of how often the bending at the waist occurs! I'd love to know!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 17 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Flowertown (Kindle Edition)
This is an unusual plot which I liked because it was different. The storyline is fascinating, thought-provoking yet plausible. The fact that it is so realistic makes it quite scary.
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Flowertown by S.G. Redling
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