Review of "The Book of Paul", by Richard Long

There’s an old song that starts out, “You always hurt the ones you love”.

In that case, Paul Kelly must adore his boys.

But he has his reasons, as do all sociopaths.  However, his reasons transcend time and space, life and death, love and hate, lifetimes and generations.  And those who are his “children” must learn these reasons first-hand.

There’s Martin, rescued from his abusive mother by Paul.  This boy learns early on that there are worse things than being locked in a basement for the weekend.

There’s Michael, a homeless man living in a condemned building, who comes across Paul at exactly the wrong time–for Michael.  He is taught the hard way that failure is not an option.

And there’s William, a psychic and a collector of gruesome items.  It is his passion for amassing the most awful of artifacts that gets him hooked up with Paul.

Then there’s Rose, her only “crimes” being that she is female, and that she is a member of the wrong clan.  (Here noted:  in Paul’s eyes, if you’re not a Kelly, you’re in the wrong clan.)

Everything is going according to Paul’s plan.  The Book is being followed to the letter.

Then it all goes sideways.  Martin, who Paul has brought up to feel nothing, even the most horrible of tortures, meets Rose.  And something gets into the designs of the Book and threatens Paul’s future.

Love.

And you can bet Paul’s not going to let that continue.

 

What can I say?  I was so very impressed with the way this book was crafted.  Mr. Long is a fantastic storyteller, letting out the plot very slowly, excruciatingly slowly, but with such a deft hand that the reader is spellbound.  Have you ever been given a present that, when you open it, is another box, with one inside that one, and so on?  Eventually you get down to the very last box, and it is so wonderful to open it and find the gift lying inside?  Mr. Long is like that with his story-telling.

However, it is a very psychologically complex book; one that cannot be rushed.  There is so much to read and understand.  Not that the prose is complex–but the characters are.  You really have to get into their heads to understand why they are in circumstances that are the right “soil” for Paul to make such an impression on them.  And Mr. Long does that; he leads you by the hand into their lives, their minds, their outlooks.

Be advised that this book is not for the faint of heart.  Coarse language and brutal scenarios are part and parcel of this narrative.  So, buying “The Book of Paul’ for dear old Mrs. Johnson down the street, as a thank-you for taking care of your cat, would not be a good thing.  Just so you know.

This is the first book in a series that Mr. Long is writing.  And I can tell you, that is a necessary thing.

For not all happy endings end happily…

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