Saturday, February 21, 2009

New this Month: Rifling Paradise by Jem Poster

It sounds like hyperbole but I don’t care: Jem Poster’s sophomore effort, Rifling Paradise (Overlook) is as near perfect a book as I have encountered in a very long time. It is a work of historical fiction and the history here -- Australia in the Victorian era -- is pitch perfect. Rifling Paradise looks like a book, but it is not: it’s really a time machine.

The story finds minor English landowner, Charles Redbourne, heading to Australia to make an impression as a naturalist, at a time when that was a weirdly competitive field. If Rifling Paradise was just Redbourne’s story, it would be interesting enough: it would be a good book. But when Redbourne’s specimen collecting takes a terrifying turn, we find ourselves with a page turner on our hands.

So what is Rifling Paradise? Is it historical fiction? Literary fiction? Is it a psychological thriller? Or the portrait of an age? Well, actually, it’s all of those things. And more. A wonderful book.

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Anonymous Ian Kaplan said...

I just read this book and I found it a disappointment. The writing is good, but the central character destroys everything that he touches. In the end the result is a depressing waste of time.

Sunday, March 15, 2009 5:34:00 PM PDT  

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