Your only child is lost between this world and the next, and more than anything you want him back. A controversial doctor and a mysterious stranger claim they have the answer. Who do you trust? Are you willing to risk everything? Are you prepared to enter Limbo?
Part classic noir thriller, part mind-bending fantasy, The Resurrectionist is a wild ride into a territory where nothing is as it appears. It is the story of Sweeney, a druggist by trade, and his son, Danny, the victim of an accident that has left him in a persistent coma. Hoping for a miracle, they have come to the forbidding, fortress-like Peck Clinic, whose doctors claim to have 'resurrected' other patients who were lost in the void. What Sweeney comes to realize, however, is that the real cure for his son's condition may lie in Limbo, a fantasy comic book world into which his son had been drawn at the time of his accident. Plunged into the intrigue that envelops the clinic, Sweeney's search for answers leads to sinister back alleys, brutal dead ends, and terrifying corners of darkness and mystery.
With The Resurrectionist, Jack O'Connell has crafted a breakout thriller that's gripping, suspenseful, and all-out heart-pounding.
'A brilliantly tuned, mesmerizing labyrinth of a quasi-real world as only a master artist could draw it.'
- James Ellroy
'It's a helter-skelter, a roller-coaster, a ride on a ghost train – if the fairground had been designed by Philip K Dick, Stan Lee and Edgar Allan Poe.'
- Brandon Robshaw, The Independent on Sunday [read the full review]
'A feast of unsettling pleasures'
- Barry Forshaw, The Independent [read the full review]
'No one does the improbable like O'Connell.'
- Maxim Jakubowski, The Guardian booksblog [read the full review]
'Jack O'Connell has riffed on language, fire-cleansed genre conventions, and stripped the artifice from the modern noir novel, creating a body of work both exciting and entirely original.'
- George Pelecanos
'one of the most original American novels of the year.'
- Jeff VanderMeer, Omnivoracious [read the full review]
'A masterpiece, O'Connell's tour de force has a dose of the uncertainty of Kafka, the fantasy of Bradbury, the crisp prose of Greene, and the noir of Chandler.'
- Andrew Gulli, The Strand Magazine
'brilliant writing, original concepts, emotional resonance'
- Jeff VandderMeer, The Washington Post [read the full review]
'a highly entertaining adventure into the mind of the unknown'
- Jennifer McCann, ST Site [read the full review]
'One of crime fiction's great underrated writers'
- Maxim [read the full review]
One of crime fiction's great underrated writers, Jack O'Connell, returns to his familiar city of Quinsigamond in a tale that encompasses druggies, crazy bikers, mad scientists, circus freaks
'Transcending genres with style - interview with Jack O'Connell'
- A P Maginness, Irish News [read the full review]
Despite attracting no small degree of praise from the dark doyen of crime fiction James Ellroy American writer Jack O’Connell admits that it is a fallacy to describe his own work as merely crime fiction.
Over the course of his four previous novels O’Connell has developed a style that is best described as unique.
He is part-crime fiction, part-horror, part-fantasy. He is Kafka, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, James Ellroy, Edgar Allen Poe and David Thompson all rolled into one.
It is an idiosyncratic mix that O’Connell – who hails from Massachusetts – explains is not something that he ever set out to achieve as a writer.
‘Is it a crime story? Is it a fantasy story? Everybody wants to put it in different categories. It is a funny thing and I think it drives the publicity people and marketing people crazy as well as the booksellers because they do not know what exactly it is,’ the 40-year-old author explains.
‘But that is not how it started out, that was not my intention at all. With this book I was talking with my publisher about those great 1950s noir novels and what those guys did. ‘I was so stimulated by the conversation that when I got back to my hotel room, sat down with my notepad and sketched out a plot and a plan of what I wanted to do with the book.
‘I wanted to write a book that would be an extremely stripped down version of what I had done before, a sort of rip-roaring tear through the story that never let up. I got home and read what I had written and didn’t like it, so I started again and The Resurrectionist is just what came out.’
Part classic noir thriller, part mind-bending fantasy, The Resurrectionist operates on a territory where nothing is as it appears.
It is the story of Sweeney, a pharmacist by trade, and his son, Danny, the victim of an accident which has left him in a persistent coma.
Hoping for a miracle, the father and son have come to the forbidding, fortress-like Peck Clinic, whose doctors claim to have ‘resurrected’ other patients who were lost in the void of a coma.
What Sweeney comes to realise, however, is that the real cure for his son’s condition may lie in Limbo, a fatasy comic book world into which his son had been drawn at the time of the accident.
Plunged into the intrigue that envelops the clinic, Sweeney’s search for answers leads him to sinister back alleys, brutal dead ends, and terrifying corners of darkness and mystery.
While booksellers and publicists may curse O’Connell’s indefinably unique style the French have been seduced by his work and when he spoke to Weekend he was in Bordeaux on a book tour.
‘France has been great to me. I have had the same publisher in France for the last five novels and all five have been translated into French so I can’t ask for more really.
‘I am not sure why they read my stuff. What I think might be going on is that the French have always had an interest in the American dark crime noir – they dig that.’
France is not the only country in which O’Connell’s novels have been published.
‘I have editions out in Italy, Germany, Holland and I think I had one or two in Bulgaria and Japan as well, but none of them have really hit quite as much as in France.’
Although the prize garnered O’Connell a lot of attention it was the influence of agent Nat Sobel – who has been James Ellroy’s agent for more than 20 years – that allowed him to become a full-time novelist.
‘When I was in my early twenties I had a short story published in a literary quarterly and soon after that I received a letter from Nat, who had read the story. He wanted to know did I have a novel that he could see, and to this day he is still my literary agent.’
A P Maginness, Irish News
'Fans of his previous novels, the cult favorites 'The Skin Palace,' 'Box Nine' and 'Wireless,' will be glad to hear that 'The Resurrectionist' is just as demented and deeply enjoyable.'
- Regina Marler, The LA Times [read the full review]
'O'Connell's latest is both demented and delightful and O'Connell is a crackerjack stylist'
- Jes Bickham, DeathRay Magazine [read the full review]
The Resurrectionist could never hope to live up to the blurbs on the back cover, one of which compares O’Connell to Kafka, Bradbury, Greene and Chandler.
True, there are shades of each in the novel, if you were to look hard enough, and the author’s previous work has always been noir-tinged. But while O’Connell’s latest is both demented and delightful, it’s also a book that can’t bear its own weight, and it staggers to a limp conclusion, unable to satisfy everything and everyone it’s introduced.
That said, it’s a marvellous fantasia, and O’Connell is a crackerjack stylist, the most obvious comparison being Stephen King in Dark Tower or Talisman mode.
The novel is two-stranded; a man named Sweeney enrols his comatose son Danny at the sinister Peck clinic, in the hopes of an arousal, and he takes a job there as a pharmacist, becoming embroiled along the way with a biker gang that promises the truth of Danny’s condition. Interleaved with this narrative are excerpts from the comic strip Limbo, which Danny was obsessed with, and that follows the travails of a group of circus freaks in the mysterious land of Gehenna.
The two world converge as we discover the ‘truth’ of what it’s like to be in a coma – that the patient invents his or her own world to exist in, as a substitute for the lost real world, and Sweeney must make a choice about his son.
The setup is everything here; O’Connell has created two enthralling existences, but they each go nowhere, even as they collide. Intriguing characters are built up and then left hanging, early mysteries go largely unresolved or explicated, and several interesting situations – Sweeney’s job, his relationship with Alice Peck, daughter of the doctor looking after Danny – turn out to be narrative dead-ends. The result is a book that fascinates for much of its length, and then frustratingly runs aground as O’Connell decides to end his story in abrupt fashion.
Jes Bickham, DeathRay Magazine