A Simple Act of Violence by RJ Ellory

July 3, 2012

Plot summary (from the publisher): R. J. Ellory’s latest paperback is his most timely, menacing serial killer novel yet, and a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year.. As in his globally acclaimed A Quiet Belief in Angels, it is a stunning work of suspense guaranteed to keep the reader awake at night. Set in Washington, embroiled in elections, it follows Detective Robert Miller as he is assigned to an unsettling murder case. He finds a serious complication: the victims do not officially exist. Their personal details do not register on any known systems. And as Miller unearths ever more disturbing facts, he starts to face truths about the corrupt world he lives in –truths so far removed from his own reality that he begins to fear for his life.

As CrimeSquad described it, “this is a book with everything that a fan of modern mystery fiction could hope for: a labyrinthine plot, unbearable tension, controversy, and a social conscience.”

Warning: Possible spoilers below


  • The serial killer angle seemed very promising. I was actually quite interested in that thread, and was a bit disappointed in not being able to see this book through to the end in order to find out what that was all about.


  • I HATED how this book broke away from the “good stuff” (the serial killer plot) every other chapter to go into John Robey’s rants against the government. Ugh, those Robey-narrated chapters were so damn boring — and unoriginal. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A CIA operative begins questioning his government’s motives and starts second-guessing his role in state sponsored assassinations. Been there, done that, right?
  • I couldn’t stand the political jabs taken at Reagan, Bush 41 and Bush 43. Notice a president missing there? Yeah, that would be WJ Clinton. Are we supposed to believe that his foreign policy was any cleaner than the Republicans’? Gimme a break. I should have checked the back of the book before downloading this from the library. If I had known it was so overtly political, I would have stayed far away. Sure, the author has every right to insert his opinions in his own book — just as I have every right to avoid reading said opinions.


I listened to 60% of the audiobook version of A Simple Act of Violence, which I think is giving the story a fair shake. However, I just couldn’t take the Robey rants any longer and had to delete the files from my iPod in disgust. Some readers might find this type of book appealing, but it wasn’t for me. At all. Since I couldn’t even slog my way to the end, I give the book 0 stars out of 5.

One Response to “A Simple Act of Violence by RJ Ellory”

  1. I agree completely with your comments on this book. I did not last as long as you did listening to my library copy of the audiobook – I only hung around for about 40% before I couldn’t take any more.

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