Mark Oppenlander's Reviews > Death is a Lonely Business

Death is a Lonely Business by Ray Bradbury
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's review
Jun 17, 2012

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bookshelves: thrillers, fantasy
Read in June, 2012

I found it a little unsettling that at the moment of Ray Bradbury's death, this particular book was sitting by my bedside. Of all of his books to have on hand, why this one? I found it even more disconcerting to realize that this mystery novel is partially autobiographical. The unnamed narrator is a 20-something writer living in Venice Beach, California during the late 1940's. How strange a coincidence is that?

As for the book itself, the plot is straightforward: The starving-artist writer uncovers some strange circumstances surrounding the deaths of several of the locals and then enlists the aid of a police detective when he thinks that there may be foul play involved. As a mystery, this is better than the short stories in the "A Memory of Murder" collection, perhaps in part because Bradbury is more true to himself here. The characters are bizarre or earthy or creepy, the ambience ranges from earnest to eerie to mystical and the plot is episodic. In addition, there is the fun for the Bradbury aficionado of finding references to his other works buried in this one. There is a sly wit to this book that is not always present in Bradbury and which adds another layer of intrigue to things.

The final resolution of the book is reasonably satisfying, if not overwhelmingly so. This is not Bradbury at his best, but it is decent and enjoyable for its unique qualities within his oeuvre. RIP to one of the best fantasy and science fiction writers in the business.
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