- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 1460 KB
- Print Length: 365 pages
- Publisher: Marble City Publishing (28 Oct. 2011)
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B006112NO8
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Average Customer Review: 19 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #254,276 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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The Baptist: A Psychological Thriller Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
The story is very cleverly told and I found the device of multiple narrators took us to places that John himself could not. I do enjoy the author's style of writing. It's immediate and thrilling and he really catches the Irish speech modes in his dialogue. I finished this book almost breathlessly and I look forward to Ruby's next book. He's a very talented story teller.
The frequent changes in point of view make for some tricky reading. A character is described in detail by one narrator; then, in the next chapter, the narrator turns out to match the description he gave the person in the chapter before. Gradually the kaleidoscopic fragments consolidate and the plot becomes clearer. To say much more about it (the plot) would be to spoil the story.
The Baptist is a demanding read, which is one of the things I enjoyed about it. Barnes's writing is deft and sinewy but always easy to follow; the trickiness is deliberate and comes from the way the story is laid out. John Baptist is a compelling, complex character, though not one I'd like to spend a great deal of time with. The whole novel is shot through with a strong vein of outrageous humour: the scene late on involving a pair of American tourists, who may really be the cliches they appear to be or may on the other hand be victims of Baptist's own distorted perceptions, is shamefully hilarious.
The story is a little too drawn out towards the end, perhaps, and takes a turn for the predictable; but those are minor quibbles. This is highly original, intelligent and exuberant writing in a genre sorely lacking in such qualities. I look forward to reading Mr Barnes's other novels, Peril and The Crucible.
The story is told mainly from the point of view of the killer himself, John Baptist. He is committed to an institution in his teens for the murder of his brother and here he meets Mary, whose madness is of a more chaotic type. On his release he creates a normal life in Ireland, including a marriage with children and a job running a small garage business. His tendency to madness is always there but it is managed by drugs, as is the case for many people. However - and this is another intelligent insight of the author - John secretly comes off his drugs: he actively chooses his psychosis over his sanity because the experience of madness is invigorating and empowering (at least on a temporary basis until its disruptive effects become overwhelming). In this condition John encounters Mary again and they embark on a spree to realise his mission.
The most effective passages of the book deal with John's encounter with a mysterious friend, Feargal, and the resumption of his relations with Mary. Because we see events through John's eyes the surface of the narrative becomes slippery with uncertainty as to the reality of what we are seeing, and the identities of characters seem to elide one into another. This part is wonderfully done because of the delicate writing, which is restrained, slyly humorous, and at times lyrical. The best parts are reminiscent of Kazuo Ishiguro. The writing throughout is of a very high standard.
As with most books there are flaws, though none of them fatal. This isn't a detective story, but Barnes introduces a detective, McAuliffe, who is linked to John's history by an inadequately explained backstory and whose role is essentially redundant. Also there are several shifts in the narrative point of view that work only so-so because the dominance of John's viewpoint has the effect that the shifts come as something of a surprise. It is also fair to repeat that this is not a standard serial killer thriller, and this means that the reader does not have the safety and comfort of the usual conventions. Prepare to be creeped out.
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