Customer Review

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
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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