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A Simple Act Of Violence

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  1,336 Ratings  ·  172 Reviews
Washington, embroiled in the mid-term elections, didn't want to hear about serial killings. But when the newspapers reported a 4th murder, when they gave the killer a name and details of his horrendous crimes, there were few people who could ignore it. Detective Robert Miller is assigned to the case.
Rapidly things begin to complicate. The victims do not officially exist. T
Paperback, 512 pages
Published October 2nd 2008 by Orion (first published 2008)
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Asghar Abbas
Oct 15, 2015 Asghar Abbas rated it really liked it

An apt title.

It's one thing to have a Noam Chomsky moment, but to have the whole book paroxysm with it is quite another. The entire premise shuddered with these mini riots of condensed reality. What's really disturbing is not that the whole thing is preposterous but that it's more than likely, and that's worrying. Sure, the accounting here is simplified; nothing is that black and white, things are not even gray, but it's still very disheartening.

I don't know, there always been something very mel
May 01, 2014 Gail rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
Wow. Just wow. This is amazing. I have just finished it and I am reeling from it. The pace, the plot well just about everything to be honest. This is good, very very good.

We have the brilliant Detective Robert Miller, his partner, Al Roth and their Captain, Lassiter.
Miller and Roth are sent to investigate the murder of Catherine Sheridan and what appears to be the work of the serial killer dubbed 'Ribbon Killer' because of his MO at the scenes of crime of three other females.

There begins just a
Aug 13, 2011 Tony rated it it was amazing
Ellory, R. J. A SIMPLE ACT OF VIOLENCE. (2008). *****.
Mr. Ellory is an English crime writer, but has set this novel in Washington, D.C. It’s the logical place for it since it deals, primarily, with the activities of the CIA. He certainly managed to do all of his research, and the book manages to expose – during the course of the story – the ways the CIA manages to fund its sub rosa activities. Ellory is a terrific writer. His novel previous to this one, “A Quiet Belief in Angels,” was a masterf
Dec 05, 2015 Jeanette rated it liked it
3.5 star to be honest- at least that level for the scenario settings and apt writing skills. But, IMHO, the tension, which is tremendous considering the first 100 pages- becomes stomped on by the sheer verbosity and repeated hubris of the narrator in italics.

And you need to swallow all conceptions in/for the homo sapiens reality of/for the secrecy and efficiency (especially the efficiency) attained within large and long term (decades long) covert operations groups. Any kind, even those with alp
Oct 17, 2010 Rose rated it it was amazing
A book is not always what it seems. That is how I feel about A Simple Act of Violence. What started out as a typical serial killer spree, turns out to be something completely different. This was a wonderful, multi-layed crime novel about how far does power corrupt and how far up the chain does it go? It will leave you thinking and then not wanting to really know the answer.

This is the 3rd book I have read by this author. I love his ability to change the style and flow of his writing to reflect t
Jul 16, 2016 Alisa rated it it was ok
Shelves: gave-up-on, mystery
I wanted to love this book - I really did. Comparison to the show "The Wire" and glowing blurbs written by authors like Michael Connelly? Plus, look at all the four-star and five-star reviews here!

I stuck with it for a whopping 250 pages and finally gave up, deciding life is too short to read torturous books. Early on, I was put off by some of the character's voices, which rang false. Some of that is due to the author's Britishisms, which apparently were never run through by an American proofrea
Jul 25, 2016 Pili rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Me mantuvo intrigada de principio a fin. Un estilo de escritura ágil, preciso y con suficiente espacio para conservar el misterio.
Disfruté especialmente la última frase con el que el autor concluye el libro y la primera línea de los "Agradecimientos" (una sección que suele estar dirigida a todos menos al lector).
Sep 16, 2011 Beth rated it it was amazing

“It is then that Catherine hears something. She thinks to turn, but doesn’t dare. A sudden rush of something in the base of her gut. Wants to turn now. Wants so desperately to turn around and look him square in the face, but knows that if she does this she will break down, she will scream and cry and plead for this to happen some other way, and it’s too late now, too late to go back…too late after everything that’s happened, everything that they’ve done, everything they’ve learned and what it al
My Inner Shelf
Énooooorme ! Je découvre Ellory avec ce roman et ne compte pas m’arrêter là. Un auteur anglais qui écrit du roman noir américain, il n’en fallait pas plus pour me titiller. Cela se présente comme une enquête sur des meurtres en série, mais on comprend vite que les choses vont évoluer dans un sens bien particulier.
Pour une fois le duo d’enquêteurs n’est pas mixte, on a bien deux mecs, pas de risque qu’ils se tournent autour tout au long du livre. La présence féminine ne fait aucun doute, mais au
Feb 08, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: crimepieces
R J Ellory is a writer who has been hovering on the edge of my consciousness for a while. I fancied reading his books but wasn’t really sure where to start. I’m so behind with some authors that I struggle to catch up with their latest releases. In the end I decided on A Simple Act of Violence for no other reason than someone gave me a copy and I’m glad I’ve finally been introduced to this interesting writer.

The book is set in Washington DC, where a serial killer is torturing his victims before s
Kate Millin
Jan 14, 2012 Kate Millin rated it it was amazing
I found this very difficult to put down. The story was very believable which is really sad and an indictment on the way America works, or rather the way the story says it works. There were the usual twists in the story that I expect from books by this author.
Washington, embroiled in the mid-term elections, did not want to hear about serial killings. But when the newspapers reported a fourth murder, when they gave the killer a name and details of his horrendous crimes, there were few people that
Patricia Neumann
Sep 07, 2011 Patricia Neumann rated it it was ok
This book was extremely irritating. As a former copy editor, it made my blood boil on almost every page. This author lives in Birmingham, England, and really knows very little about Washington, D.C., and not enough about the U.S. government. Some examples: They are NEVER called the "Washington" police - they are the D.C.Police; we do not have a Secretary of State for Justice and Defense - they are the Secretary of Defense and the Attorney General; The U.S. Supreme Court does not act to prevent m ...more
Jul 24, 2011 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, great-reads
A Washington D.C. serial murder case becomes a lot more than this detective bargained for. It seems his victims never existed. And once they start to get some suspects these folks never existed either. This is an awesome mystery that turns into so much more. I could not believe this guys writing ability. The story pulls you right into it and the characters are fantastically portrayed. This one should not be missed. If it looks vaguely intriguing go for it, you will not regret it. One note though ...more
Oct 14, 2013 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really enjoyable and interesting novel. As with previous novels by the author the story moves along in an in intricate multi layered fashion which really pulls the reader in. The characters are detailed and thought provoking, added to the well researched theme along with a very gritty view of Washingtons police dept this is fully recommended. I look forward to getting through the remainder and of this authors catalogue.
Une intrigue bien ficelée et une lecture très agréable. J'aurais cependant coupé un peu dans le conspirationnisme. ;-)
Als fan van Ellory heb ik me aangenaam verpoosd met deze spannende, politiek getinte thriller. Ellory kan goed schrijven en neemt uitgebreid de tijd om zijn plot op te bouwen en uit te werken. Soms duurt het me allemaal net iets te lang, dan denk ik: het mag wel wat korter en sneller hier of daar, maar dat zal mijn eigen ongeduld wel wezen. Al met al vond ik deze echt de moeite waard.
Ros Lawson
Sep 11, 2016 Ros Lawson rated it really liked it
Quite a page-turner tho it doesn't look like it by the time it took me to read it! This was exciting, tense & had me guessing most of the way through. I don't read a lot of thrillers but this was a good one.
Sandra Lensen
Aug 28, 2016 Sandra Lensen rated it really liked it
Very nice, intriguing up to the end. A little to "political" for me, but that's just a matter of taste, the book was very well written! I really enjoyed it!
Nov 29, 2012 Michele rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Siiii inutilement long. Tout le monde aime Ellory - ça fait trois livres et je le trouve toujours ennuyant comme la pluie.
Pierre Fortier
3,5/5 Sans être hâletant, ce long thriller politique incite à être lu jusqu'au bout. Meurtres en série de personnes non fichées dans le système, cartel de la drogue au Nicaragua, contras, sandinistes, CIA, FBI, tueurs à gages, Ellory construit son roman à coup de cul-de-sac et de faux-noms à l'enseigne du complot et de la corruption. 730 pages - 20 heures de lecture - passe-temps correct oublié dans 2 mois.
John Brooke
Apr 13, 2013 John Brooke rated it liked it

I recently reviewed Ellory’s A Dark and Broken Heart. I said I was less than thrilled because: it’s too much like a movie I've seen too many times before; and because of the protagonist’s limited range, despite the many thousands of words given to his inter-chapter inner monologues. Now I have read A Simple Act of Violence, Ellory’s huge bestseller about a Washington DC homicide cop’s frustrating, soul-sapping battle against shadowy DC “intelligence community” forces blocking his way to a clear
Dec 29, 2016 Felix rated it really liked it
Another strong book from Ellory. If you love conspiracy theories this is the one.
Dec 10, 2012 Vespertine rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lukasz Pruski
Jul 18, 2013 Lukasz Pruski rated it liked it
R.J. Ellory's "A Simple Act of Violence" begins as a standard police procedural. A woman is murdered in Washington D.C., and the crime scene has the same markings as in three previous murders. The perpetrator is dubbed the Ribbon Killer because of signature ribbons left behind at the scenes. At this point the reader expects a conventional cat-and-mouse game between the serial killer and the police, but pretty soon it becomes clear that this is not a typical serial murder spree. Something much mo ...more
James Perkins
Mar 20, 2015 James Perkins rated it really liked it
Washington, D.C. Detective Robert Miller investigates several murders that appear to be the work of a serial killer, but the victims cannot be found on any extant database. As he pursues the investigation, he finds the truth is tied into the activities of the United States in Nicaragua, the smuggling of cocaine into America, the corruption of government agencies, and the fates of those who dare to challenge the powers in charge. Talented English author Ellory has created a relentless thriller ex ...more
Joe Maguire
Jul 14, 2012 Joe Maguire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
This was my first Ellory novel, and knowing nothing about the author or book I started it without much idea what to expect. The book opens with a murder and it seems from early on that this will be a police procedural with a stereotypical misfit detective as our protagonist hunting an elusive serial killer. However, a parallel storyline soon opens up which is clearly connected to the events of the main story, and yet is much broader in context and style; addressing some big political and moral q ...more
Jun 09, 2008 Anne rated it it was amazing
A Simple Act of Violence is very different to RJ Ellory’s last novel A Quiet Belief In Angels in that it is more of a crime thriller.

But, yet again, nothing is quite as it seems. What apparently begins as a serial killer investigation in Washington soon emerges as something far more complicated.

Detective Robert Miller, the lead investigating officer gradually becomes more baffled by the case and Ellory’s writing leaves the reader frantically turning the pages to find out just how is the ‘Ribbon
Fiona Van
Oct 05, 2009 Fiona Van rated it liked it
This is the second of Ellory’s novels that I have attempted. The first was disappointing and I have not become engaged with it. It is lying by my bed, half read, and, with lots of other reading material available, I have left it unfinished. Having now read this long, and fairly difficult novel, I will return to it.
On the face of it, this is a serial killer thriller - the “Simple Act of Violence” of the title, the cop hero is a detective, just returned from a three month suspension and an IAD inq
Kathleen Hagen
A Simple Act of Violence, by R. J. Ellory, b-plus, Narrated by Kevin Kenerly, Produced by Blackstone Audio, downloaded from

This book contains in the first few pages a very surreal event: a woman is being strangled while watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” with some of the lines entertwined into the killing. Very weird, but I won’t forget it soon. This book contained too much violence for me, and too many coincidences leading the detective to the final conclusions, but it was impossible
Ubik 2.0
Nov 19, 2013 Ubik 2.0 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-e-book

Dopo i primi capitoli ero sul punto di abbandonare, stufo di thriller incentrati sulla figura supersfruttata del serial killer. Per di più la storia si presentava con tutti i luoghi comuni del genere accentuando la sensazione di dejà-vu (anzi di dejà-lu…): donne massacrate in serie e con i soliti rituali da assassino seriale, polizia (nella fattispecie di Washington) incapace di trovare un nesso fra i casi, il medico legale (anzi “la medico legale” come va di moda adesso) che fa le auto
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Roger began his first novel on November 4th, 1987 and did not stop, except for three days when he was going through a divorce from his first wife, until July of 1993. During this time he completed twenty-two novels, most of them in longhand, and accumulated several hundred polite and complimentary rejection letters from many different and varied publishers.

He stopped writing out of sheer frustrat
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