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Bad Signs (R.J. Ellory book)

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A book by R.J. Ellory.

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1 review about Bad Signs (R.J. Ellory book)

RJ Ellory at his best

  • Dec 7, 2011
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Bad Signs: Author: R.J. Ellory
Reviewed By Fran Lewis

Children do not ask to be born. Adults give them life but sometimes those adults are not ready or willing to deal with having the responsibility of children. Carole Kempner had two boys neither grew up knowing her because her life ended in a violent and horrific manner. Elliot and Clarence came from two different fathers but both would learn the hard lessons of life and the violence that accompanies it. Watching your own mother slaughtered or killed would traumatize any child. Hoping that she was just asleep a total myth. One father who could care less and another who could not be found and a friend who would report what she found. Stars are meant to shine in the night sky and provide comfort and warmth for those that like to wish upon them. But, sometimes we think that when bad things happen to us too often that maybe, just maybe the stars that seem to shine upon us are not so good or their brightness holds something evil or bad within them. Bad Signs by author R.J. Ellory will enlighten you all to the mean of being born under a bad star and much more.

Two brothers the same yet so different. Clarence/Clay intelligent provides some solid rationale for his thoughts and actions yet in total awe of his older brother, Digger as he is called. Sent to a boy's juvenile hall to live, no parental supervision, treated harshly they both learned the harsh realities of life, how to deal with difficulties but more important, they were each other's best friend. Digger would do anything to protect his brother and his brother would do anything and forgive anything of him. Both resembled their mother and both were going to live lives that no child or human should. Stealing, fighting, punching, taking what they wanted and learning to protect themselves from others was part of their lives and the worst has yet to come.

Author R.J. Ellory brings to light many issues that no one should face, especially a child. Cruelty, death, abandonment, fear and learning to live without the love and nurturing of a parent. Touch love is not something kids can always handle but Digger would learn and so would others that sometimes you need to do what you have to do to survive regardless of the consequences. Digger a dreamer and hoper to get what he wanted and Clarence/Clay more intelligent and hoping that his brother would want to learn more focus on getting more educated. There are bad kids and really dangerous bad kids. Both were the first. Would they turn into the second?

Dares and hopes for their futures discussed and two young men who set out to live their lives looking for something good but never really finding it. Clarence, the optimist hoping to find and have a better live. Digger already jaded realizing where his life would lead. Thinking that maybe there was two sides to him almost like Dr. Jekyll or even Mr. Hyde.

Earl Samuel Sheridan hated everyone in the world. No matter what anyone would do he would never see the good. Life he felt treated him wrong and the only way to survive would be his way vengeance and violence. Earl Samuel Sheridan committed murder. He killed a woman named Katherine because he wanted to and because he felt like it. Thinking she could redeem him was something she should have realized would never happen. As they took him to his isolation cell you would think that he would show some kind of remorse for his deed. But, what happens next will create more fear in the reader, chills down your spine and keep you glued to the printed page to find out just how far this man will go before someone stops him. One prison guard would pay the price for just bringing him dinner. Two young boys named Clay and Digger would become his pawns in a dangerous game of chess that would leave a bloody trail in many states, bodies along the way and two young men who would never be the same.

Bailey Redman's mother was a prostitute. Bailey was smart and caring all she wanted was a normal life. Unfortunately that was not to be. Bailey decided to learn the identity of her real father and to her surprise and her mother's Frank Jacob was an honorable man. So, when Elizabeth Redman died he did not think twice about taking care of his daughter. So, how would this change their lives and what part would Earl Sheridan play? You are about to find out. Bailey was getting ready for her mother's funeral and how she would encounter the two boys and one sadistic man still remains to be seen. Earl's father was a tough disciplinarian and his mother Puritanical. Imagine receiving phone calls regarding your son and finding out just what he is guilty of and has done. Would you lay claim to him? Would you defend him? Would they tell where he was if they knew?

Agents Garth Nixon and Ronald Koenig were in charge of finding him and the two young boys he kidnapped. Thinking they knew where he was headed, Baja, California they hoped to capture him but the trail went in different directions, the photos of him altered and wrong and it was almost as if he was invisible. Sadly, as Earl mistreated them and requested they show him respect, Digger seemed in awe of him for some reason and never defied what he asked or said.

The narrator digs deep into the story and relates his thoughts about what the characters did not realize, know or understand about certain events until they happened many of which were unavoidable. Had Digger and Clay known what was going to happen maybe they would have run? Had Bailey known what was in store for her maybe her life would have been different.

When the system fails and there are no safeguards the end result is what happened to these two young boys. When the guard was shortsighted and followed the protocol for the prisoner's last meal he never realized what the end result would be. One metal comb would end his life and the result would be a murderous rampage across more than three states. Clay remained with them because he felt a loyalty to his brother and hoped he could prevent some of the slaughter. Digger would require much more help to get the evil out of him if there was anyway it could be done. Two lost souls from the beginning and each being used for one man's folly. Nine days of terror would begin with the murder of an innocent woman. Leading the two boys across many state lines for two more days we are now at Day Four of their kidnapping. So, far they are still alive.

Threatening Digger and stating he would kill him if he tried to run, using the same speech each time, almost thinking that what he was going to do was right and the dramatic changes in him would frighten Clay. The author takes the reader into the minds of the killer and that of the two young boys whose ideals; ideas and experiences begin to mirror each other. Frightening to say the least if not terrifying. So, thinking that they would go to Eldorado and have life. No way. Thinking that they would escape not going to happen. Walking into Pinal County Mercantile with Earl, Digger did not wear a mask because they would not need one. You figure out why. Weapons from the juvenile hall at hand, knives, Digger as his "sidekick," they entered, terrorized the owner got all of the money and then you can guess the rest. I guess his appointment for the necktie party at the prison would have to be delayed or for now postponed. As once again Earl is in the winning column and the authorities minus more than three. Timing seems to be everything and by chance is what happens as Bailey and Frank have misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. As Earl comes into the store where Frank sells shoes, he holds him up and what Earl does is outlandish. When the till was not what he wanted he killed Frank. Clay saw Bailey and he had been in the outhouse. He started to protect her and help her out of her bloody things. Would they survive? Clay and Bailey would stay together and what would happen to them would change them. Where was Digger and what would his fate be now that they were separated?

Why would Digger feel proud to be part of Earl's life? Why didn't he feel any remorse or sadness of the deaths of so many people? What hardened him even more? A misplaced and misdirected bank robbery would eliminate one of the major players and lead to the hunt the unknowing Clarence who had Bailey with him. Digger went with one young lady and did not know the fate of one Earl Sheridan. The police on his trail and the Feds close by would he succeed? Bank robber, killer along with Laurette, they entered a house. A man came out and what happened next you wouldn't believe. Gil Webster was afraid of Digger and did not make any wrong moves as he was locked in the basement of his own home and what Digger does is try to model his mentor Earl but can he?

As the pieces start coming together and the victim's mount up will they ever catch the right man who escaped and what will be their final fate? Day five and the chase but the facts came too late and the duty detective never saw the report which might have helped find Deidre Parselle which led the duty detective to realize that this crime was different and the chase plus the excitement accelerated. The stories are now going to run parallel as Digger continues to kill and Clay and Bailey are not far away.

How this will all come together you won't believe? For the squeamish close your eyes when you read this and the ending well! Just read Days 6, 7, 8 and 9 and you will be totally enlightened. Day six starts with detective John Cassidy and a reminder of the sequence of the murders. The author reminds the reader many times of the fact that the characters are often not aware of what the others are doing and events that transpired.

The nine days that transpire will keep the reader on a tightrope that will eventually cost many to fall down. The primary theme is still good vs evil and just how far these characters will go. John Cassidy and his wife, Alice and many of the minor characters will bring tears to your eyes and are more memorable than most. From murders, to rape to just plain hate crimes against humanity this novel will stir up all of that and much more. Characters that are so vividly portrayed and incidents you can picture on your own mind and an ending packed with twists, turns and hope that at least one brother might survive the evil that befell the other. Will anyone come out ahead? Will the authorities find out who is really committing the murders or will Clarence hang for them?

The anger flares up and the end is coming near and the final two days will shock the reader. The lies and deceits can only be fixed by one detective named Cassidy who would stop at nothing until justice was done as the circle of life comes back, the dark stars still shine on some and ending will make you wonder what happens when the system fails? This is one powerful book that will keep you thinking long after you turn the last page.
Fran Lewis: reviewer

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