Saturday, July 18, 2009

No Such Creature by Giles Blunt

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Random House (Oct. 14, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0679314318
ISBN-13: 978-0679314318

I've read every book Giles Blunt has written and loved them all.
No Such Creature is a departure from his award winning John Cardinal police mystery series. Even his first novel, Cold Eye, which is also a stand alone, had some chilling intrigue and great psychological insights. I can highly recommend them all. But No Such Creature, though well written and interesting to a point is a weak entry in this writer's oeuvre for me. I just didn't feel very attached to the characters and I don't think it's because they are all criminals.

Young Owen was tragically orphaned at nine and groomed to a life of summertime crime by his uncle Max who raised him. We do want to see the boy get away from all the dangers of this lifestyle, especially when a poor choice ends in their being pursued by infamously brutal mobsters. Old Max likes to quote Shakespeare and Owen likes to imagine they're like Robin Hood because his uncle insists on robbing only rich Republicans. If it sounds funny, it is to some degree but there is some terrible violence too, which makes for a dark story at times, though the tale does ends in a somewhat hopeful way.

This is a coming of age story for Owen, who at eighteen has begun to realize that the person he loves most in the world is most likely to lead him to harm. It's also a road trip with the hounds of hell on their tail. The pace is right and emotional attachments to family are something Blunt is always good at. I think after such powerful entries as Forty Words for Sorrow and By the Time You Read This, or even
Blackfly Season, I was expecting too much from No Such Creature. And I was ill when I read it. So, though it's a reasonably good story for anyone not already familiar with Blunt's writing, I can only give it three and half stars. My recommendation is definitely read this man's works, but don't start with No Such Creature or you'll have the wrong impression. He's capable of, and usually serves up so much better.

His next book is already out and I can't wait to read it. Yes, I'm still in love with the man's writing and the way he thinks. Breaking Lorca is another departure for him, historical fiction set in El Salvador during the 1980s, and I suspect not for the faint of heart. A woman is detained in a government torture center and Blunt gives us "a terrifying journey into human cruelty and courage". Now all I need is for someone to send me a copy (big hint to his publicist).

Thank you to Random House Canada for the lovely hardcover copy and LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program.

Giles Blunt's site.

Also reviewed at:

Book Reviews by Bobby

Any followers who comment before midnight Sunday August 2 may be entered in a draw for this book. Please indicate clearly that you do want to read it and that you are a follower.

*Edited: Winner was Upper West Side Writer.


  1. Don't you just hate it when a favorite author lets you down. Maybe your expectations were too high for this one.

  2. I'd love to give it a shot. I haven't read any of his books yet.


  3. Even though you really didn't love this one, you've introduced me to an author that I have never read. Just knowing how much you love his work is enough for me to want to pick up one of his books!!

  4. I guess they all can't be winners. I'm glad you haven't been turned off from one of your favorite authors.

  5. Sounds like I need to check Blunt out but I'll take your advice and start with a different title.

  6. I have not had the opportunity to read anything by this author. I would love the chance.

  7. This sounds interesting but dark! I would love to read it Sandra. Thank u for such a lovely giveaway!

  8. The review is good and I would like to read it.

    I am a follower.

    cenya2 at hotmail dot com

  9. I would really love to read this book--even though you weren't over the moon about it--and I am a follower. Thank you!


  10. I am interested. Do count me in.

    Btw, I follow you in my google reader!


  11. Oh I'm just in time! I've only read the first 2 books in his John Cardinal series but really enjoyed those, and even though you didn't like this one as much, I'd certainly be interested in reading it.

    Moving house has made me not a very good commenter on anyone's blog this summer but I do follow you in my Google Reader. Now I'm off to catch up on a few other posts of yours that I've missed.

  12. How unfortunate that this book didn't live up to expectations. I'm always so sad when that happens with me and a favorite author. I'm glad you're sticking with the author though and hope that the next read is better.



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