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4.5 out of 5 stars
The Resurrectionists: na
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 March 2017
The Resurrectionists has much the same atmosphere. It’s a complex (possibly a little too convoluted at times, I must admit) tale of Frank Cassidy and his dysfunctional family, at the centre of which lies the mystery of his parents’ death. Frank struggles to make sense of his past and come to terms with what’s happened, and the book is both psychologically astute and again a real page-turner. Small town America is here portrayed with all its faults but not without its redeeming features, and the reader is soon drawn into the lives of people who have the odds stacked against them from the start but try to do their best with the cards they have been dealt..
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HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 19 October 2002
In this absorbing and multi-layered can’t-put-it-downer, Collins provides the reader with innumerable vantage points from which to view the lives of Frank Cassidy and his quirky and dysfunctional family, to see life as Frank sees it, and to watch in fascination as each family member grows and changes. Stuck by circumstance and lack of opportunity at the bottom rung of the economic ladder, Frank, "a scavenger at the edge of existence," Honey, and their children leave New Jersey in a series of stolen cars for the Upper Michigan Peninsula, as soon as they discover that Frank’s uncle, who raised him, has died on his farm. An inheritance, however small, could change their lives.
A mystery lies at the heart of the novel. Frank’s parents died in a fire when he was five, and, through hypnosis and, eventually, treatment for a breakdown, he’s come to believe that he and his uncle were both involved in these deaths in some way. Returning to "a town nobody returns to unless under tragic circumstances," Frank starts digging into the past and disrupting lives. On the level of plot alone, the novel is full of excitement, enhanced by vibrant characters with whom one feels great empathy as they wrestle against the circumstances that keep them down, bending the rules, if not breaking them, whenever they can. The vividly described, remote farm environment, the mores of the local community, and the treacherous winter weather generate much of the action and interaction. Collins expands the scope of the novel well beyond plot and melodrama, however, by recreating the ambience of the 1970’s and using Richard Nixon, Watergate, and Jim Jones as thematic motifs which recur throughout the novel and show parallels with his characters and story.

As the title indicates, this is also a novel with religious parallels, so well integrated that many readers may not even notice them, at first. The Prodigal Son, the Book of Job, and the story of Lot’s wife are fairly obvious, while the Parable of the Loaves and Fishes (in this case a trick in which one hits a Coke machine at the right moment to get both the Coke and the money back) may be less so. References to good and evil, hope and despair, death and rebirth, and salvation and resurrection occur throughout, as Frank and his family adapt to life in a small town, try to cope with their internal conflicts, and ultimately to come out ahead.
A beautifully developed novel of big ideas, The Resurrectionists is engaging and, to me, totally satisfying on every level. Though I enjoyed Keepers of Truth, I liked this novel even better—it’s one of my favorite novels of the year. Mary Whipple
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on 7 September 2002
From the heat of New Jersey to the frozen wastelands of Upper Michigan, The Resurrectionists travels so many roads, literally a road novel, but also across the intellectual and political landscape of our nation from the seventies back through the fifties. Rarely has a book woven such dysfunctionality, darkness, menace and hopelessness into a masterpiece of modern life. From the white noise of reruns, to the breakdown of time and memory for the main character who cannot be sure of his actions or his take on the story, we are left in a bewildering world of truths and half truths, struggling with the narrator to discover the dark secret that lies at the heart of this novel.
The curious pace, sometimes languid, the frentic breaks all the rules of the crime genre, stradling literature, holding onto moments of mood and feeling, letting us linger in the silence of life, then weaving back into the plot.
The material with Honey, the main character's husband on death row, with his ball of dead skin, and his execution against the a rerun of Gilligan's Island stands as one of those defining moments of dark political satire I've yet read in any work. Collins mines the political and social life of our America, breaks down the divide and situates all life as politically charged and dangerous. The menace of Nixon is all through this book, haunting Robert Lee with his pez Nixon, to Honey's husband who murdered people in the aftermath of Watergate, profoundly disillusioned with America.
This is not to say this is a novel that bashes America, in fact, it's the opposite. It hilights the diversity and tension, but also the ability of America to overcome adversity, how America survives.
How the novel subtly shifts and offers redemption toward the end is done with such brillant understand of the human heart, that this book exhalts as one of those rare books that lets you stare into the abyss, but see through to the otherside.
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on 21 August 2002
From the first lines, "I couldn't quite get us back without incident for the burial of my father. We ran into a little trouble along the way. It took us two stolen cars along the interstate to get us home," the unnerving tone of the narrator drives this edgy masterpiece of existential longing and search for salvation.
The road scenes are as good as any written about America, cinematic masterpieces - the limbo of rest stops, the roadside motels. There's a sense of detachment and horror that underlies the freedom and journey this family take, i.e. America takes. The American highway is a seductive and beautiful metaphor, but also a surreal place, a noman's land. As we follow along with this family, we see the pitfall of life, the moments of madness to which all can succumb. The holdup scene of the old man and his spiritual redemption even as he's getting robbed, is a quintessential moment in American fiction. Then there's Robert Lee and his miracle of the Loafs and the Fishes that centers on a Vending machine at the high school... the execution of a deathrow inmate as Gilligan's Island plays in the background, to the sleeper who lies in a coma in a sanitorium. There are so many absurd juxtapositions, so much melding and layering of history, of present time and rerun TV here, that everything takes on a density, the very nature of the plot and its subtext creates almost a modern feeling of disorientation.
This book is a haunting, tragic tale, a world of beautiful losers, a world of sin and grace.
This book shimmers with those moments, takes us to the psyche of what it truly is to be an American and why they remain the most captivating of people! It's screaming for an adaptation to the screen.
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on 6 June 2002
Collins shortlisted for the 2000 Booker explored late seventies America in The Keepers of Truth, and here goes back further to catch the psyche of America, which he argues lies in its cold war paranoia and fear of nuclear war. This was the age when mass hyponsis, mind control and subliminal advertising was being experimented with by both the Russians and the Americans in an effort to win the cold war without reverting to nuclear war.
However, the book at its beginning is grounded in the story of a man struggling in a dead end job who upon hearing of the murder of his uncle, decides to return to his home in Michigan to claim stake on the family farm. One may ask, where's the analogy to Cold War America and its dark secrets, well, Collins has it such that the man returning home is returning under suspicion of having set a fire that killed his parents years ago, so a dark secret is at the heart of this novel.
What unfolds is a surreal, existentialist journey across America that could only be undertaken and achieved by a writer like Collins, writing as an immigrant. The sheer ability to re-exam America, to skew the real just slightly to cleave away at American life, to show its failures and its successes is nothing short of brilliant. Collins stands at the forefront of a political, social, and psychology fiction, that he weaves into a complex, but ultimately satisfying murder plot. More assured and complex than The Keepers of Truth, a novel that takes risks with plot and language, The Resurrectionists stands heads above contemporary modern fiction.
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on 2 October 2003
The quality of the writing marks this out as a book I will keep and re-read in years to come. Has the same ability as John Banville to write with such sily skill that the writing never intrudes onto the story but complements it fully.
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on 16 September 2009
Frank Cassidy is a man with a past. When he was five-years-old his parents died in a fire and he was brought up by his Uncle Ward - a harsh mid-western farmer in a remote Michigan town. Frank can't exactly remember what happened or what drove him away but that might be down to his period of mental instability in Chicago, when he was given electric shock treatment, or possibly the `experiments' in hypnotism performed on him as a child by the local doctor. In any case, he has different problems now - his wife Honey has an ex-husband, Ken, on death row and the child she had with Ken, Robert Lee, is a troubled teenager. They also have five-year-old Ernie, the fruit of their own union, a maths prodigy, just like Frank's long-lost Uncle Charlie. Then Frank reads in the paper that Ward has been murdered and decides to uproot his family from their dead-end existence to claim his share of the inheritance.

Frank is a complex character and it's a measure of the depth and dexterity of Collins's prose that we come to view someone as initially untrustworthy and devious with a measure of warmth and understanding. The story swings and swerves with the convoluted plot as the background of Frank's life is revealed to a final and hopeful conclusion - but not before several shocks, the last of which is a deeply disturbing revelation.

I devoured this marvellous thriller non-stop; it takes crime novels to a level of literary skill they don't often reach, though perhaps it doesn't quite live up to the brilliance of Collins's last novel The Keepers of the Truth (which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize).

This is a welcome change from the ordinary grind of police procedural - anyone who cares about good writing should grab it now - and in fact grab anything (especially The Keepers of the Truth) by this top-notch writer.

Incidentally, it says this item is not available at the top of this review, but it is, in several different formats, including the paperback which is reviewed here. I suspect this is true of most of the others where Amazon is saying they aren't available. Why are they saying this?
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on 1 August 2002
Collins follows up a flawless murder mystery in The Keepers of Truth with an even more crafted and insightful book, The Resurrectionists. Weaving the dysfunction of a family against the backdrop of the American landscape, Collins had co-opted the American novel and made it his own genre. This is David Lynch for its surreal moments, Steinbeck for the landscape evocations, and Chandler for the flow of plot.
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on 29 August 2007
This is essentially a voyage of discovery as a man travels back with his family to uncover his own past after the death of his uncle. The book is filled with quirky characters and with some wonderful humour as the main character tries to work out his past and in doing so come to terms with his present as he unravels a grim tale. The book is strong on visual images and conjures up time and place as well as characters very effectively. I could not tear myself away from this book and even though I finished it some time ago, I find myself reflecting back on it a lot - the sign of a good book as far as I am concerned.
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