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Saints of New York
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on 15 October 2010
What makes us us? What drives us? What guides our reactions to spontaneous decisions in the heat of the moment when there isn't time for thought? Three very tough questions, which there are no real answers, but they are answers in which Roger Ellory tries to discover in his latest book, the Saints of New York.

Having written reviews of his previous two novels, and even earlier about my first Ellory discovery, the wonderful "Quiet Belief in Angels", it appears to have become somewhat of an annual tradition!

We are introduced to Ellory's latest protagonist, homicide detective Frank Parrish amidst a literal blood bath as he attempts to save the life of a girl who has been attacked by her boyfriend, but things, as always don't go according to plan. Parrish, down on his luck, it seems things aren't going his way. As the novel unfolds and we are introduced to the main story line we learn more about him, more importantly, his past and the ghost of his father, New York police legend, John Parrish, one of the original "Saints of New York".

What people don't know, but what Frank does, is the truth. He knows the real John Parrish and the seemingly sinister motivation behind his actions. Once again, as is the case with all of Ellory's books, we learn the back story at the same time that the main narrative races forward at a relentless pace. This time told in gripping dialogue with Parrish's counsellor, who was assigned to him after Internal Affairs called him to book for a transgression too many.

All the while, a homicide investigation is going on, a drug dealer turns up dead, but so too does his sister. She's not the only one, there are more and we follow Frank's journey to unravel the pieces and follow the clues. Detective work doesn't strike me as a pleasant occupation, you see the lowest, and the lowest of the low. Frank has seen it all, but this really gets under his skin.

As a reader, it's not pleasant. Ellory digs into some dark places and you are reminded that this is real, it's happening on a day by day basis. Fictitious accounts of non-fictional events. Some readers may not like it, nothing here is glamorised or dressed up. Vermin are vermin and as soon as we acknowledge their existence the sooner we can do something about it.

In context, you take the sum of this novels parts and you'd be thinking it reads as slightly clichéd, particularly as a "crime thriller". You take a New York homicide detective, hard drinker, broken marriage, married to the job, a typical "who-dunnit", but as with all of his previous works Ellory takes a token formulae and adds some of his magical fairy dust and takes what has been written time and time again into another direction.

I can't think of many other crime thrillers that would have left me thinking about the three answers to the three questions I asked earlier, but once again, my whole enjoyment of these books that continue to be released on a yearly basis is that they transcend the genre. Gritty, realistic dialogue, characters that are believable and fully dimensional, the crime aspect is merely a distraction as we try and understand the person and what drives them.

Although, ultimately another wonderful piece of literature by Ellory, my main reason for it's success was what makes reading a book so special, the right one always seems to come at the right time. It may just be me, maybe it's entirely coincidental, but certain events in my own life and having to learn for myself about "where we come from" and the "meaning of life", it seems that I'm being thrown different answers of varying importance about this topic wherever I turn!

I'll always hold A Quiet Belief in Angels, and A Quiet Vendetta in such high regard, so there is a little bit of pressure from me onto the author to surpass that, I'm not expecting a Magnum Opus once every twelve months and would be incredibly rude (and impossible) of me to request that! Each of his readers will have their own personal favourites, and they are what his future work will be measured by. But he has a fan here, and if one more fan comes as a result of these annual reviews then all the better for it, as it will hopefully mean more books for me to read!
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on 16 October 2010
R.J. Ellory recently (and deservedly) won the Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year Award for his novel, A Simple Act of Violence.

Saints of New York goes to show what an extraordinary writer he is. He manages to intertwine the harrowing tale of teenage abductions, alcoholic cops, people living on the edge of sanity and reason whilst at the same time carrying you into the thought processes, worries and anger of the main character - Detective Frank Parrish.

Parrish fights not only "the bad guys" but also his personal insecurities, hangups and inability to handle the most basic of inter-personal relationship. It is the manner in which Ellory writes the unfolding tale that absorbs the reader in an ever more complex and harrowing tale in which your every fibre is screaming out to help Frank Parrish get through another day without "screwing up" in his usual manner.

This is a gripping and somewhat darker tale than other Ellory novels. Having read all of his other books, I was anxious to get my hands on Saints of New York as soon as it came out. It definitely came up with "the goods". As with previous books, this one is a stand-alone novel containing many interesting characters, plots and scenes of the worst forms of crime imaginable. We follow Parrish on his path towards some form of redemption - Can he catch the killer; Will he reconcile himself with his late father's actions; Can he heal the rifts with his family and friends.

Once you have picked up this book, you won't want to put it down. R.J. Ellory just keeps on getting better and better. Buy it, read it, feel it. This is a great book.
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on 9 May 2012
This is the second Ellory book I've read. The other - A Quiet Belief in Angels - I found a rather extraordinary and emotionally exhausting read. The Saints of New York feels somewhat of a lesser book all round, but then it had a lot to live up to. The story is still a bit of an emotional ride as it tracks Parrish's fragile state of mind and psychological transformation and the unfortunate lives of young girls being grabbed for snuff movies, but it doesn't quite plumb the depths of the A Quiet Belief in Angels. And given the subject matter I'm not going to say it was an enjoyable read. It was certainly engaging in parts, but the more the book progressed the more ambivalent I became. The story felt stretched out and from a long way it out it was clear as to how the narrative would unfold - this is after all a story of a fall from grace and redemption. Parrish is the archetypal solo, me-against-the-world, drinks to forget cop, who breaks every rule and pisses all his colleagues and family off, and constantly teeters on the edge of being drummed out of the force, all in the name of justice. There is no denying, however, the quality of the writing. Ellory can certainly string sentences together and produce a multi-layered read. The start is as gripping as they come. For those who like a psychological inflected police procedural, The Saints of New York will be a welcome tonic.
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on 17 April 2012
I have just finished this book & found it quite slow-paced compared to A Quiet Vendetta. Not to say it isn't a great read...it is! Frank is a deep & emotionally damaged character that is not easy to have empathy with at first. As the story gathers momentum you feel more for him & see how his life was deeply affected by his Father. R J Ellory is a fabulous writer, he understands the human psyche so well & has such a descriptive way of placing you within the book (well me anyway). I have read all of his books now & am depressed at the thought of having to find another writer to fill the void until his latest book comes by. He is up there with James Lee Burke, in my eyes the Master. If you haven't read an Ellory book, do yourself a real favour & buy A Quiet Belief in Angels & start the roller-coaster ride.
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on 20 September 2013
Mr Ellory writes his characters so well. It's like peeling off layers as you progress through the story. The murder plot was almost secondary to me by the time the book finished. I was fascinated by the relationships and perceptions of each of the characters towards one another. I liked the added element of a therapist talking with Parrish throughout the book & felt it tied in well with the feel of the story.

Would definitely read again!
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on 30 May 2012
I really enjoy reading books by RJ Ellory, and Michael Connely.. now Saints of New York has characteristics of both these authors.. I can see a lot of Connely's Harry Bosch in the lead character in this book. Now this isnt a bad thing.. I have enjoyed RJ Ellory books so far because of the depth of characters he creates and was expecting more of the same with Saints of New York. Some expectations were fulfilled with a little bit of a history lesson about the mafia which is always enjoyable in Ellory's books.
This book seems much more story driven than character driven.. as a detective alternates reluctantly discussing his life on a psychiatrist's couch and trying to decide which lines he can cross and which ones he cannot in order to bring a criminal to justice.. Its a good read but I didnt find it quite as deep as I was expecting. Maybe it is wrong to have expectations because it is a book I would recommend.. in fact if you have not read any books by RJ Ellory this would be a good one for you because it is (and I don't mean this in a bad way) a little more mainstream. To sum up, if you like Michael Connely then you will love this book Saints of New York, by R.J. Ellory
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on 14 February 2015
RJ Ellory is one of my favourite authors - try A Quiet Belief in Angels or A Simple Act of Violence. But this seemed so out of keeping with these it was like reading a different. The main character is simple detestable - I could not begin to like him. I've given it an extra star as readers of Lee Childs might like it!
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on 28 January 2015
I can't say anymore than just get this book and immerse yourself in it for a few hours. A seriously good read by a seriously good author. Crime fiction does not get much better.
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on 15 September 2013
I like the conflicts that the main characters had to contend with in their lives and the story line was very clever, a little disturbing in that I could see how it would be possible for it to happen. If you are a fan of R.J. Ellory you won't be dissapointed
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on 3 January 2013
Fascinating, terrifying and wonderfully crafted crime novel. You'd think R.J.Ellory was a native born citizen of the US (and he's actually British) - I've now read 2 of his books and been captivated by them.
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