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Penny Dreadful (Phineas Poe #2)

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  1,145 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
When Phineas Poe is enlisted by his old ally, Detective Moon, to find a missing cop named Jimmy Sky, he is drawn into the Game of Tongues, a violent fantasy game played by the disaffected and delusional in the punk clubs, rooftops, and sewers of Denver. With everyone he meets possessing multiple personalities and his own identity slipping away, Poe realizes if he can hang ...more
Trade Paperback, 309 pages
Published November 3rd 2006 by Lawson Library (first published March 6th 2000)
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Jan 14, 2013 Brandon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fiction, 2010
As much as I really liked Kiss Me, Judas, I loved Penny Dreadful that much more. To steal an overused cliché, this book was a "tour de force" (which I'm not really even sure what that means other than perhaps, tour of force?). Either way, overused descriptions aside, this book is in a word, awesome.

Baer really outdid himself. I enjoyed the first entry but was a little weary about starting this one (despite the fact that I went on and on about how much I enjoyed it). I think it was partly due to
May 03, 2015 Luke rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, read-again
Dear Jude. I'm ready to agree that 'Penny Dreadful' is probably even better than 'Kiss Me, Judas', and that's saying something. I finished this book last night and awoke with a powerful hunger for The Pale and a need to read 'Hell's Half Acre'.
Apr 07, 2008 Shannon marked it as to-read
Recommends it for: palahniuk fans who fell on their heads
Shelves: own
I started reading this and, literarily speaking, it's horrible. Someone below said they'd recommend it to Palahniuk fans. There are plenty of negative things to say about Palahniuk but, he is definitely more clever than this guy. At least his stuff is intriguing. Baer is trying WAY too hard to be shocking, I can tell. Something about that always annoys me. You can't FORCE disturbing imagery. Either you have a knack for it (see: The Museum of Love by Steven Weiner) or you don't. Also apparently t ...more
Colin McKay Miller
Two stars.

Omnibus review:

Will Christopher Baer is a more respectable version of Chuck Palahniuk. They’re very similar—both are dark, first-person storytellers with a predilection for the twisted underworld of sex and violence—but I’d place Baer more on the side of dark storyteller and Palahniuk on the side of shock writer. Plus Palahniuk bled one narrator into (many, but for sure his initial) four novels; Baer just accepted his love for that voice and made a trilogy.

The Phineas Poe trilogy—Kiss
Krok Zero
Aug 12, 2008 Krok Zero rated it it was ok
Shelves: summer-2008
Will C. Baer's first novel "Kiss Me Judas" was a dark beauty, an existential nightmare drenched in neo-noir style, but Baer's reach exceeds his grasp in this disappointing follow-up. Damaged ex-cop Phineas Poe is back, but this time he finds himself in the middle of the dangerous "game of tongues," which is intriguing at first but soon proves to be Baer's dumping ground for a boatload of tired ideas about fractured identity and reality vs illusion. Baer treats this well-worn material with crushi ...more
Jan 16, 2008 Russell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: keeping-it
Just re read this guy. This time I ran through the MacAdam hardcover. First time I read it was my old $1, used Viking hardcover. The MacAdam's a much cooler design. Anyway, the story's an awesome head trip. Of the Phineas Poe Trilogy, this one, as the middle novel, is the odd cow. It's a cool juxtaposition of noir and reality games -- nearly a fantasy. Rather than stay in Phineas' point of view as the other two books do, Baer takes you into all of the primary character's heads. You get to see th ...more
Scott Gilbert
Dec 14, 2014 Scott Gilbert rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Sorry to say that this was a real mess. Baer is an excellent wordsmith, and can keep you locked in to reading just with his flow. But Penny Dreadful has no real plot, no consistency, a blurry muddle of too many characters, comes to no conclusions, and lacks the metallic edge of his previous novel. The book seems to just have been un-spooled without much consideration.
Richard Thomas
Feb 23, 2010 Richard Thomas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kiss Me, Judas may be the first Baer (and you never forget your first) but this may be my favorite. The game of tongues is so rich and deceptive, a captivating read. Neo-noir.
Jun 25, 2009 James rated it it was amazing
And this is one of those rare sequels that, in a lot of ways, eclipses the accomplishments of the previous tale. Astounding. Also disturbing, but in really terrific and interesting ways.
Sep 20, 2015 Lizy rated it it was amazing
This book, you guys. This damn book. Imagine someone took a Sharpie and wrote a sonnet on the ass of a bull and you had to read it while the bull was performing in a rodeo, and that's the level of chaos Penny Dreadful throws at you. I thought I had read some crazy stuff before. I thought Kiss me Judas was bad, or Chuck Palahniuk's stuff.

This book was so insane I was down to 30 pages a day when I normally read over 100 pages a day, ok? And it's not hard reading, it's just *that* overhelming and i
Apr 24, 2013 Linus rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
In Penny Dreadful, the various identity crises from the first book are smashed to pieces. Without the security of being close to Jude, Phineas struggles to regain a foothold on his life back in Denver. His withered sense of self finds an outlet however: the vicious game of tongues, which at least half of Denver has succumbed to (including everyone from lowly video store clerks to cops). The disintegration of the characters' identities is what drives the plot. The narration in the chapters altern ...more
Apr 22, 2015 Logan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Is there a version of cyberpunk for the fantasy genre? That's about as close as I can come to describing PENNY DREADFUL. It has the weird, unsettling vibe of cyberpunk, without any science fiction involved. That said, it's a fantasy story about characters losing themselves in their role-playing game called THE GAME OF TONGUES. It's a fantasy story even tho it's about the reality of the characters' fantasies.

It could be called a surreal book, too, but, then again, the reality of the situation is
Apr 16, 2007 sean rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anne rice lovers
well i never heard of this author and after i read the excellent "smonk", yes i know books don't go in quotes, i looked on some of the user lists on amazon that list that book... anyway, tom franklin, of smonk fame, was listed by this guy as one of the edgy new authors akin to palahniuk and franklin.

i will readily admit, the writing was strong, i had to reread many sentences in the first quarter of the book to figure out what exactly was going on, and the writing is just the way i like it... gr
Sep 17, 2016 Helena rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
"I understand that Joyce was trying to recreate the random sound and fury of a human mind at work but I'm not sure why he would want to. Painful and blinding. Trapped in the wheels of another's thoughts." P204

I have never read Ulysses, but this book makes me think that I should. It also makes me think that I would enjoy this one more if I had. That said, without having done so, this book is thoroughly enjoyable. Difficult, though it is. This is what I understand to be true of Ulysses as well, al
Alessandro Balestra
Il pittoresco Phineas Poe, ex poliziotto senza speranza, finisce nella decadente Denver. Qui, in un girotondo di bizzarri individui, viene coinvolto nel "gioco delle lingue", un role play estremo dove i giocatori oltre a condurre la loro normale vita assumono i ruoli di personaggi immaginari. Ma il gioco ben presto degenera quando uno di questi comincia ad uccidere alcuni poliziotti.
Tramite l'aiuto di un ex collega, Phineas indaga sugli omicidi in un contesto dove la finzione spesso si confonde
Apr 16, 2008 Michael rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of the Kiss Me, Judas and mental disturbances
I was worried by the original Kiss Me, Judas that any follow-up wouldn't be able to to match up to the disturbing depth and noir nature of the book, and though not far off, Penny Dreadful is by no means something to pass on. The sequel contains what it should, with a rather original plotline from its predecessor and some new interesting style concepts thrown in. A for effort, but 3 stars because it just seems like Baer is trying too hard for a cynically-inspired philosophy to emerge, taking away ...more
Writer's Relief
Jul 13, 2012 Writer's Relief rated it really liked it
PENNY DREADFUL is a sequel to Baer’s novel, KISS ME, JUDAS, though, never having read the first one, I didn’t realize this was a sequel until after I’d finished it. I could pretty much keep up, I just thought the author jumped into the story pretty quickly without giving much background information. The book follows an ex-cop who is searching for his missing friend, Detective Sky. His leads bring him to investigate a strange, drug-induced role-playing game, “The Game of Tongues.” The plot is biz ...more
Karen San Diego
This Phineas Poe novel is unimaginably rich. It's like reading a video game or something and I didn't expect it to be this good. The novel was evenly-paced, and I found it a bit boring at the beginning, since Jude isn't there to manipulate everything. It's very creative though; the Game of Tongues is like a fantasy lived in the streets of (was the setting Denver?) Yeah, that. I eventually found myself wondering how it would be like to play it and that's just creepy. Eve here became a more centra ...more
Maaz Sheik
Dec 14, 2014 Maaz Sheik rated it liked it
“A friend is like anything else. A dog, a plant. You ignore them and they tend to die on you.”

A sequel to Kiss Me, Judas. This book is weird in a awesome way. Poe takes you on a journey that you'll have to go along for the drug filled ride and cast aside all those nagging doubts that keep springing up, which is kinda hard. Few surprises but not quite up to the level of its preceding piece, although I still enjoyed most of this book. And overall it is fun. Hope the last book doesn't disappoint.

Jun 07, 2014 Jrubino rated it really liked it
Weirdly fascinating.

This novel holds its strange world together (barely!) with pure determination. Not everything makes sense, but then I don’t think it’s suppose to. Ultimately, you have to go along for the ride and cast aside all those nagging doubts that keep springing up.

Will you be rewarded in the end? Meh. Sort of. Depends on how you accept nebulous packaged conclusions.

It’s surely not a bad novel, I’m simply not sure it’s a great one. Yet, it keeps me reading. It pulls a few surprises. A
Linda Kwiatkowski
Dec 23, 2014 Linda Kwiatkowski rated it did not like it
I put this book down after the first few pages because I felt it was an acid trip that I wasn't going to enjoy. I picked it up again after awhile and read halfway thru but had to put it down and be done with it.

Some books you can sail thru...this book was like being dragged thru broken glass. You have to fit the pieces of glass together to find the plot and the characters. At first it's bloody, painful, and tedious eventually when the pieces start to fit it's monotonous and indeed dreadful.
HHS Staff
Sep 09, 2009 HHS Staff rated it really liked it
Trying to offer another view of Italy beyond the romanticized images of such books as Under the Tuscan Sun, Jones looks at Italian politics, football, television, child rearing, gender roles and more. Corruption abounds and somehow most all of it involves Silvio Berlusconi. Excellent for a more well-rounded, authentic view of life in Italy for Italians. For a good time, read it on a flight to Rome.

Reviewed by:
Mark Janda
Social Studies Teacher
Oct 17, 2013 Jason rated it liked it
Not quite up to the level of its preceding piece I still enjoyed most of this book. The game the characters play is a bit interesting but I find it hard to believe it could continue without anyone of authority getting involved. Also glad to see detective moon back because he's such a slob but I love his character
Jan 02, 2015 Ashley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Couldn't even finish the book. As much as I loves the first installment in this series, I had a hard time even finishing s whole page at a time on this one. I can't really put my finger on it, but something about this book was extremely off-putting. It's rather unfortunate, considering how badass the first book was. Perhaps I will give it another try one day.
May 20, 2012 Jim rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Here we go again down the rabbit hole that is Phineas Poe's drug-addled schizophrenic world, but in this book almost all the characters have multiple personalities, and cops are disappearing. Not as satisfying as Baer's first injection, but isn't that how it is with drugs, always chasing after that first high.
Jan 16, 2008 Angella rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Palahniuk fans
Shelves: disturbing
This was an interesting book. It could have been excellent. It aspired to a level it didn't quite reach in terms of meaningful existentialism. It became a little pretentious in its literary references and suffered from small fits of overwrought analogy.

But it was still a good story, and I felt compelled to read until the end.
Livius Nedin
Aug 11, 2009 Livius Nedin rated it it was amazing
Book two in the Phineas Poe Trilogy has a distinctively different feel from Kiss Me, Judas. It revolves a lifelike roll playing game in which Phineas becomes caught up. Again, much like Kiss Me, Judas, and absolute must read for everyone!

This is my second reading of this book.
one of the strangest books i have ever read, i thought it was awful but now i find myself thinking about it like nine months later, so thats why it gets a three and not a two star rating. also i liked that it was written about my town.
Carlos Chavez
Jun 28, 2012 Carlos Chavez rated it liked it
A big improvement on the way he writes. I just feel he needs to come up with better stuff to write about. Mainly his story line it's like the guy just doesn't know where to go with the story and doesn't much care.
Grant Frazier
May 23, 2013 Grant Frazier rated it it was amazing
Beautifully elusive, and maddeningly hypnotic. Slick prose that just kinda floats over so much glorious violence. I loved the ending. I expected nothing less. Going to save the next one for a special occasion.
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Will Christopher Baer is an American author of noir fiction, often delving into sex, violence, mystery and erotica. Currently published works include Kiss Me, Judas, Penny Dreadful and Hell's Half Acre, all of which have since been published in the single volume Phineas Poe. His long-awaited fourth novel, Godspeed, was originally set to be published in 2006, but saw several delays before publisher ...more
More about Will Christopher Baer...

Other Books in the Series

Phineas Poe (3 books)
  • Kiss Me, Judas
  • Hell's Half Acre

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“A friend is like anything else. A dog, a plant. You ignore them and they tend to die on you.” 11 likes
“I have saved no one but myself and now I watch for the other universe to unravel in my skull, for the sky to become my own skin and fill with stars.” 7 likes
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