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Candlemoth by R. J. Ellory


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Sarah Broadhurst's view...

The first novel and as such my introduction to an author I assumed to be a middle-aged American. When I met the young Brummie hunk I was astounded for this is a tale of America’s prejudice in the 50s and 60s, of two boys, one black, one white, and their eventual flight from being drafted into a war neither could accept, Vietnam. It’s very political, very emotional and very good. It was this book that made me fall in love with the author and hungry for all subsequent work. It remains my favourite but it is not his best. It is slower to build than the others. In fact his latest, The Anniversary Man, is a real page-turner but I loved the style and history of this one. I would start with this and grow with him. Remember, all are seriously satisfying reads.

If you like R. J. Ellory you might also like to read books by Stieg Larsson, Lorenzo Carcaterra and Daniel Clay.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst


Candlemoth by R. J. Ellory

Daniel Ford has thirty-six days to live. Accused of the horrific murder of his best friend Nathan twelve years before, he has exhausted all appeals and now faces the long walk to the electric chair. All he can do is make peace with his God. Father John Rousseau is the man to whom the last month of Daniel's life has been entrusted. All the two men have left to do is rake over the last ashes of Ford's existence. So he begins to tell his story. Daniel's story takes him from his first meeting with Nathan, aged six, on the shores of a lake in 1952, through first loves, Vietnam, the death of Kennedy and finally their flight from the draft which ends in Nathan's brutal murder. But meanwhile the clock is ticking and the days are running out ...


Daniel Ford's 12 years behind bars are coming to an end. In 36 days the state will take its revenge for the murder of Nathan Verney, Daniel's lifelong friend. Daniel struggles to put his life in order, to put into perspective his brief moments on the planet, to hold them up against those tumultuous years of '50s and '60s America in which his life was played out. Daniel needs to pinpoint his mistakes and his weaknesses because he believes that somehow, somewhere he is to blame. Not for the murder of Nathan, of which he is innocent, but for allowing himself to be drawn into the whole sorry mess that his life has become. But Daniel can't know of the powerful forces that worked against him then, forces that are working against him still. Father John Rousseau does, though, and although Daniel doesn't know it yet, Father John Rousseau is his only hope. Roger Jon Ellroy's first novel is a worthy attempt to capture the traumatizing American experience of conspiracy and war that was the 1960s, showing how the carefree lives of Daniel Ford and Nathan Verney are slowly eroded by the events that are happening around them on the bigger stage. Ellroy's flavour of small-town America is nicely evoked and carefully distilled. The relationship between the two central characters is realistically argumentative and temperamental. The novel's only weakness lies in the depiction of their adversaries; whether loud-mouthed college kids or Ku Klux Klan thugs, they lack the necessary definition to be anything more than bogeymen. For the most part, however, this is an accomplished, well-paced novel with a nicely written if unsurprising ending. (Kirkus UK)

About the Author

R. J. Ellory

R .J. Ellory is the author of nine previous novels including the bestselling A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS, which was a Richard & Judy Book Club selection and won the NOUVEL OBSERVATEUR CRIME FICTION PRIZE. Ellory's novels have been translated into 23 languages, and he has won the USA EXCELLENT AWARD FOR BEST MYSTERY, the STRAND MAGAZINE BEST THRILLER 2009, the THEAKSTONS OLD PECULIER CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR for A SIMPLE ACT OF VIOLENCE and the QUEBEC LAUREAT. He has been shortlisted for a further 13 awards including four Daggers from the UK Crime Writers' Association. Despite the American setting of his novels, Ellory is British and currently lives in England with his wife and son.

He has also written books under the name Roger Jon Ellory, which can be viewed by clicking here.

In 2011 R. J. Ellory was shortlisted for the CWA Dagger in the Library, awarded to an author for a body of work.

Author photo © Adam Scourfield

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Book Info

Publication date

2nd August 2004


R. J. Ellory

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Orion (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd ) an imprint of Orion Publishing Co


400 pages


Thriller / Suspense
Crime / Mystery
eBook Favourites

Thriller / suspense
Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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