James Thane's Reviews > The Devil All the Time

The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock
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Oct 12, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: crime-fiction, noir
Read in October, 2012

This is a beautifully-written, captivating book about a number of mostly poverty-stricken rural characters, some of whom are down on their luck and others of whom are simply bad to the bone.

Set in rural Ohio and West Virginia, the story takes place over a period from the end of World War II until the middle of the 1960s. It weaves together the strands of several different stories, and the characters include a husband and wife team of serial killers who hunt their male "models" along the nation's highways. There are a couple of seriously screwed-up preachers, a totally bent sheriff, a war veteran who spends hours at his "prayer log" sacrificing and pleading with God to save his wife who is dying of cancer, and their son, Arvin, who pulls the various parts of the story together. The supporting cast includes a number of minor, but equally well-drawn characters, virtually all of whom are unforgettable.

Also unforgettable is the setting. Pollock paints a vivid portrait of these small towns and isolated farms where hope and opportunity are totally foreign concepts. To say that these people lead often desperate, hard scrabble lives would be an understatement. Although the book is set in the middle of the Twentieth Century, in some respects many of these people are still living as though it were the beginning of the century.

There is a lot of brutal action in this book, but the story is so well-told that Pollock draws you in from virtually the first line. And even though it's very hard to sympathize with a lot of the characters, you turn the last page with a deep sense of regret that the book has ended. Donald Ray Pollock is also the author of the acclaimed Knockemstiff and he is definitely a writer to look for.
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04/04/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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message 1: by Beth (new)

Beth Nice review! Sounds like a book I might need to read.


message 2: by Wendy (new) - added it

Wendy Definitely a book of interest!


James Thane Thanks.


David Berkowitz Good review. Not my typical fare, but I'm adding it to my Kindle wish list.


James Thane David wrote: "Good review. Not my typical fare, but I'm adding it to my Kindle wish list."


Thanks, David. Let me know what you think of it.


message 6: by Jacki (new)

Jacki Leach Thanks to your review, I can't wait to read this one!!!


James Thane Jacki wrote: "Thanks to your review, I can't wait to read this one!!!"

I'll look forward to your review.


message 8: by Jacki (new)

Jacki Leach It won't be very soon because my TBR pile is so high!!! lol


James Thane Jacki wrote: "It won't be very soon because my TBR pile is so high!!! lol"

Tell me about it!


message 10: by Pat (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pat I just read this book. Love your review by the way. But the book was pretty awesome, I loved it.


James Thane Thanks, Pat; glad you liked the book.


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