- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Serpent's Tail; Main edition (15 Jan. 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1846686431
- ISBN-13: 978-1846686436
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,345,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Pariah Paperback – 15 Jan 2009
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A doom-laden crime story that not only makes merry with the justice system, but also satirizes those bottom feeders in the publishing industry who would sign Osama bin Laden to a six-figure contract for his memoirs, if only they could figure out which cave to send their lawyers into. If there's any other young writer out there who does crime noir better than Zeltserman, I don't even want to know...
I'd say Zeltserman can't top Pariah for its sheer diabolical inventiveness, but he probably will. And given that the corrupting vision of his work is so powerful, I ought to know better than to read the next novel he writes. But I probably will anyway.(Maureen Corrigan Washington Post 2009-11-09)
Pariah is the perfect pitch of reality, history crime, celebrity, plagiarism, and sheer astounding writing.... If every writer has one great book in them, then Dave can rest easy (Ken Bruen)
Mean like bad whiskey and sophisticated like good scotch, Pariah is a rare find and a scorching read (Cortright McMeel)
This is a masterpiece (Seymour Shubin)
This fusion of hardboiled and bitter satire is brand new territory for noir and I suspect that it will be one of the most talked about novels of 2009 (Ed Gorman)
This is a book that anyone with even the slightest interest in crime or thriller genres simply must get their hands on, as it's bound to have a huge impact on you (The Bookbag)
Small Crimes got a lot of attention for Dave Zeltserman in 2008. This year, Pariah should get even more. If you like hardboiled noir, this book's for you. ..(Pariah) is is fast, furious, and funny. If you have any interest in tough-guy noir, you'll want to get hold of this one as soon as you can (Bill Crider’s Pop Culture Magazine.com)
For those who prefer the darker slice of life, Pariah will keep you glued to its pages. The chain reaction of Kyle Nevin's release from prison on the world around him is the stuff of nuclear explosions. Violent, sexual and relentless, there are no holds barred anywhere in this wonderful launch into evil. The meek beware ... be-very-ware (Charlie Stella)
White-knuckle ride... a cracking piece of hard-boiled noir... different kinds of venality are put wittily under the microscope as the book rattles along to its terrific conclusion (Metro 2009-02-18)
Its noir, its satire, and its Boston that you don't see on Cheers. Nicely done follow-up to SMALL CRIMES. (BookBitch USA 2009-10-01)
Once part of the holy triumvirate ruling the South Boston Irish Mob, Kyle Nevin is set up with the Feds by head mobster, Red Mahoney, which leads him to a court case and a stretch in the slammer. Now out of prison, Kyle wants revenge on his old boss and mentor, and just as importantly, to reclaim his former glory.A kidnapping gone horribly wrong leads to a major book deal for Kyle and a newfound celebrity status - but also brings about bigger problems for both himself and anyone unlucky enough to cross his path."Pariah" is a heady mix of crime novel, history, social commentary and a satirical look at the publishing industry.See all Product description
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"Pariah" is the story of Kyle Nevin. A little over eight years ago, he was part of the mob running South Boston. He was set up by his boss Red Mahoney and was jailed for an armed robbery. Recently released from prison, he has his mind set on revenge. Prison hasn't mellowed Kyle the way it did his brother Danny and he's not about to settle for a life as an ordinary working man. However, he's found that South Boston has changed in the eight years he's been in prison and he doesn't have the same power or respect he used to.
Before he can track down Red, Kyle needs to get the resources to do so and he has a plan to get several million dollars so he can do just that. Things don't go so well, but a letter he sends to the New York Times brings him to the attention of a publisher, who is keen for him to write a book about what he may or may not have done. Suddenly, Kyle has a Plan B and he looks set to make more money honestly than he ever had as a criminal and South Boston is now looking at him in a new way.
The story is presented as the writing of Kyle Nevin himself, complete with occasional notes to an editor regarding sections where he may have taken minor liberties with the story to put himself in a better light. It's wonderfully done, as you get to see glimpses of his ego amongst the violence and anger he has made his life. Whilst Zeltserman rarely describes his characters in detail physically, leaving you unable to picture them terribly well, the insights he provides into Nevin's psyche let you get more of a feel for him as a person.
Whilst the physical descriptions aren't detailed, he does pick out characteristics, the same kinds of thing that would first draw the eye if someone like Nevin was looking at them, so you at least get a good feel for appearances, if not an exact picture. He does much the same for the locations, so you don't get to feel South Boston as a whole, but you get a decent impression of Nevin's South Boston. Indeed, as a further touch of realism, he pays more attention to describing women and their distinguishing features than he does of the men and when he visits somewhere he wouldn't usually go, such as his visits to New York, the descriptions of places he's seeing for the first time and isn't accustomed to get additional detail.
Kyle Nevin isn't a particularly likeable character. Of course, the aim isn't to make him out to be a hero. He may have been wronged, which was how he ended up in prison, but he's wronged more people in worse ways and continues to do so. Nevin isn't trying to make himself out to be a sympathetic character and he shows no remorse. The intention here is simply to tell the story, not to distract the reader with thoughts about right or wrong and in that aim, Zeltserman succeeds admirably. This isn't a book about the good guys and the bad guys, it's a story all about the bad guys. Nevin's just a man from the mean streets of Boston, he's not necessarily proud of what he's done, but he demands respect and he's unapologetic of what he's done to ensure he gets it.
With books like this, you can often find they're all style and very little substance. With "Pariah", Zeltserman writes not only with great attention to stylistic matters, but he also has a great eye for a story. Kyle Nevin is the kind of man who once he knows what he wants; he's in a hurry to get it. He comes out of prison with an aim and he's going to get there as quickly as he can and the pace with which he moves through the things that need to be done to achieve that is reflected in the pace of the writing and the pace of the story. It's relentless and leaves the reader almost breathless at times.
What really stuck out for me in the overall brilliance of the book was the ending. So often in stories like this, the author waters down the ending in a weak effort to tie up loose ends. Zeltserman doesn't fall into this trap. Once the story is over it ends and that's it. If there are loose ends, they stay loose and that makes the ending the best and most honest ending to any book of this kind I recall reading.
There's nothing bad I could say about "Pariah" and it's not often I find that. It's the perfect mixture of style and substance and the unusual way the story is told adds a lot to the book and to the genre as a whole. It's the kind of book that is going to spoil whatever I read next, as it's going to be found wanting compared to this. This is a book that anyone with even the slightest interest in the crime or thriller genres simply must get their hands on, as it's bound to have a huge impact on you.
This review may also appear, in whole or in part, under my name at any or all of www.ciao.co.uk, www.thebookbag.co.uk, www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.dooyoo.co.uk
As the book opens Kyle, now 42 years old, has just been released from prison, fueled in equal parts by plans of revenge against the man who had set him up - none other than his former boss/mentor/protector [for whom he had worked since he was 11 years old], as well as straightening things out - one way or the other - with the woman he had loved, who had broken off all contact with him the day after his sentencing. Self-described as being "like a pit-bull, all he needed was the smell of blood to bring out his true nature," seemingly comprised in equal parts of rage and sang froid. And just when you think things can't get any worse - well, you know how that tune goes.
One of the things that sets this book apart, in addition to the fast-moving plot, is that its narrative form is apparently a proposed manuscript being written by the now celebrity-gangster-turned-author for whom the public has apparently developed a voracious appetite. The satire invited by this is done to a turn. But the book is unquestionably very dark, and its protagonist utterly despicable. Although very well-written, it is so difficult to find any redeeming quality in any of the characters that I am ambivalent about recommending it, but nevertheless find that I am doing just that.
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