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The Shroud of the Thwacker

3.19  ·  Rating details ·  666 Ratings  ·  97 Reviews
Known to millions for his television and film roles, Chris Elliott is one of the most beloved comedians of his generation. With his novel The Shroud of the Thwacker, Elliott delivers a laugh-out-loud parody that will delight mystery lovers as well as his devoted fans.

Set in New York City in 1882, the story hilariously chronicles the adventures of police chief Caleb Spence

Paperback, 358 pages
Published September 13th 2006 by Miramax (first published 2005)
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Anita Dalton
Jan 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
It's gonna be hard to give two craps about this book and review if the following do not apply to you:
--You have a mild crush on a balding man who used to write jokes for David Letterman.
--You read and had a violent reaction to Patricia Cornwell's Portrait Of A Killer: Jack The Ripper - Case Closed, in which she pins the Whitechapel murders on a famous painter, using less hard proof than I use when I look at my nine cats, the hairball befouling the living room carpet and decide Wooster did it on
Max Ostrovsky
Aug 08, 2010 rated it did not like it
The cover of the book promises something akin to Monty Python. I first heard of this book being promoted on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and Stewbeef can do no wrong.

But this book is way wrong. Completely unfunny. And I've never liked Chris Elliot, so, honestly, I really should have known better. But I never expected it to be as bad as it was. It was almost as if Chris picked words randomly hoping that some cosmic mixture would produce humor. No. It was just random unfunny words. And page a
Jun 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is very, very funny and clever in its sheer stupidity. If you're a fan of Elliott's show, "Get a Life," you should definitely read this piece of insanity. It's about Elliott himself doing extensive research in the unsolved case of Jack the Jolly Thwacker, a serial killer of the 19th century that murdered prostitutes with a bag of apples. There are many secrets to this book, but a few include a bizarre and flatulent Teddy Roosevelt, an evil army of Mummers, time machines, baby criminal ...more
Apr 04, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
I heard about this book on NPR, and the piece sounded quite funny. I liked Chris Elliot in a few of the things I'd seen him in, and thought I'd give this book a try. Sweet, merciful, tap-dancing heavens, this was a terrible mistake on my part. I had to force myself to finish this book like a child being forced to finish a plate full of lima beans. The dialogue was stilted, the humor was obtuse at best, and any semblance of a plot, dadaist, absurdist or otherwise, was non-existent. May God have m ...more
Aug 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Humorous. Way better at the beginning when he's just using his amazing sense of humor to set the stage. The references and humor are top least, if you enjoyed 'Get a Life' and his character in "There's Something About Mary." However, once the plot gets going and things need to become a bit more internally consistent, as well as just move along faster, the humor falls by the wayside, and we're left with an overly unbelievable story and a fairly predictable "surprise" ending, which none ...more
May 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is high-larious and pretty damn good. Besides every other line being a joke (We're talking jokes of Douglas Adams proportions here), the narrative itself is actually very interesting. In the midst of all the forth-wall breaks, off-the-wall jokes, and intentional historical inaccuracies, the story's plot twists are great (even *gasp* surprising at times) and everything plays out to an interesting conclusion. The story structure itself is pretty formulaic, but when the book itself jokes ...more
Jan 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comedy, bizarro
AWESOME!!!! Laughed my ass off the entire time :) I have been a huge fan of Chris Elliot since his David Letterman days in the 80's and was thrilled to discover he wrote another book (anyone remember Daddy's Boy?)
May 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
It's Chris Elliot...most people love him or hate him. This book is ridiculous and absurd in all the right ways as far as I'm concerned. If you don't find Elliot funny, you will hate this book. I love him.
Jul 16, 2008 rated it did not like it
This book SUCKED!
Feb 08, 2009 rated it it was ok
It's Chris Elliott. And like Chris Elliott, at times you love it at times you hate it but mostly, you find it mildly amusing
Kat Jedlicka
Mar 19, 2008 rated it did not like it
worst book EVER!!!
Feb 16, 2013 rated it did not like it
If you are a nine-year-old boy, with the attention span of a gnat, and a fondness for bodily-function jokes, random nonsensical statements, and a complete lack of taste or class, I recommend this book to you heartily. If you are anyone else, I strongly advise you to skip it!

I only made it to page 35 of this book, and frankly, I could have stopped on page eight, but wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt. Sadly, that's 15 minutes of my life that I can never get back, and someone should pay fo
Mar 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, funny, humor, mystery
Yep. This book was pure Chris Elliott.

I always liked his comedy, especially the skits he used to do on Letterman or the role he had on Everyone Loves Raymond. This...was a bit much.

The book started out with a lot of promise. I loved this bit from the first paragraph: It was the year 1882, and New York City was caught in the grip of a serial murderer. His nightly forays into the shadowy streets hsd claimed the lives of four prostitutes, two women who looked like prostitutes, and, oddly enough,
Dec 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Chris Elliott, television and film writer, comic and actor, reads from and discusses his debut novel, The Shroud of the Thwacker.

Set in New York City in 1882, this hilarious story chronicles the adventures of Police Chief Caleb Spencer and his cohorts, Evening Post reporter Liz Smith and Mayor Teddy Roosevelt, as they unravel the mystery of the world's first serial killer, Jack the Jolly Thwacker.

We met Chris Elliott when he visited the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver. You can listen to him t
Aug 09, 2011 rated it liked it
When I first started reading this, I thought this was going to be one of the very few books that I never finish and have no intention of finishing. After the first three of four chapters chapters, I actually started to enjoy the book. I don't know if I started getting used to all the "olde timey" talk (or at least the author's take on it) or if the writing somehow got better. That being said, I was a little disappointed in the ending. I'm not sure if I missed something or what. I tried to reread ...more
Jul 04, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had a bit of trouble deciding what to rate this book. On the one hand, the portion of the book that takes place in the past is overly absurd and lame. On the other hand, the stuff that takes place in the present is laugh-out-loud funny. I chock this up to the fact that I find Elliott's brand of self-deprecating humor most enjoyable. I will say that the revelation of the mastermind behind this whole plot is an ingenious one, but I still can't bring myself to give this book more than two stars. ...more
Ginger Dodds
Aug 24, 2013 rated it did not like it
This is probably one of the only books I have stopped reading before reaching the end. I read for two reasons... To learn something or to be entertained. This book fulfilled neither of these. Carl Hiaasan or Christopher Moore he is not. I know Mr. Elliott is a talented writer and actor but maybe his talent lies in the visual representation of his writing. This book was just silly and not in an entertaining or laugh out loud sort of way. And so I have decided after 69 pages that I will move on to ...more
May 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
Not a big fan of Chris Elliot-the comedian. However his book is hilarious so far.
Finished this book. It was actually pretty funny...inane, stupid, mindless and historically inaccurate. Chris Elliot pokes fun at himself and society in general. Not a bad book, not one to bring you to a deeper understanding of life or anything else, but sometimes all you really want is entertainment. This was entertaining.
Oct 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Throughout the book Chris Elliott showed why he wrote for and starred in Saturday Night Live. The Shroud of the Thwacker was a very humorous and witty book. The story is very odd and at some points it was tough to understand why he would put a line somewhere in the book, but thats the genius of it. The book makes little sense while providing a lot of humor and that was the point. If you are looking for a good laugh The Shroud of the Thwacker is the right book for you.
Mar 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Shroud of the Thwacker is hilarious. You will be surprised how much you'll laugh throughout, even if you consider yourself a hard-hearted reader. The book gets tired in the last quarter but by that point you've laughed so much that you'll forgive Elliott's lack of talent.

He's a comedian, not a writer. Cut him some slack and give in to his good-natured attempt.

And did I say you will laugh? Because you will laugh.
Kate Sherrod
Jul 26, 2009 rated it liked it
This was funny; I will not deny it. Pitted against almost anything else to be read, however, there are few books I for which I would trade it. I might choose it over, say, genre romances or sparkly vampire novels but that is it. Were I given a time machine (accidental or otherwise, snicker) and the chance to decide again to read it, I would choose something else. Life is too short, really.
Jan 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2005
Awesome debut by the former star of "Get a Life" and the movie "Cabin Boy." Elliott goes back in time to solve a Jack the Ripper-type murder mystery. When I saw him talking about it on Letterman, he was asked what sort of research he did, and he responded, "Oh, none. I just made most of it up," which is why we are treated to anachronisms like a kerosene-powered wooden cell phone and the like.
Anne Stevens
Not one of any substance, this book is fantastic for a light, silly read. I appreciate Elliot's humor and the liberties he took with portraying an 1882 New York City. More than that, I enjoyed his self-deprecating style. If you enjoy movies such as Airplane, you'll more than love this novel. Only if you like to read, of course.
Sep 07, 2011 rated it did not like it
More tongue-in-cheek humorous story than real mystery. Set in both present day and 1882 New York and filled with anachronisms. Present day person tries to solve an 1882 New York unsolved murder spree by " Jack the Jolly Thwacker". That name alone should tell you something about the story. Characters are buffoons.
it's a funny book. it's just ... too rabidly funny. there's a joke in every paragraph and saying that much is a bit of an understatement. it's so tongue in cheek that i could barely take 100 pages.

i prefer the books i read to have a plot line ... not just a series of wisecracks, innuendo, and mockery. i'm just weird like that
Mar 01, 2009 rated it liked it
Chris Elliott's books are totally silly and not based in reality. If you want a book that is, don't read this. However, it is really fun to get into the mind of an insane comedian. This book does this. However, I don't think it was quite as good as "Into Hot Air." There were certainly some funny portions of the book, but I didn't think it was great overall.
Jul 22, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who has enjoyed any of Caleb Carr's tripe or The DaVinci Code will hate this hi-larious send-up of historical and conspiracy-laced fiction. Those whose humorous tastes range from farts to turn-of-the-century political jokes will fully enjoy this masterpiece from Chris Elliot's diseased mind.
Jul 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
I often love Chris Elliott, and I sort of liked this book, but oh was it stupid. It has elements of things I enjoy -- and a moron's version of 19th-century New York City history is a rather niche subject that I can get behind -- but the stupidity of it overwhelms the cleverness and humor. Still glad I read it though!
Jul 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
absolutely the strangest book I've ever read, tho not without it's humorous moments. I honestly can't recommend it because it made no sense whatsoever, but it wasn't the worst book I've ever read...close, tho! glad I borrowed a copy instead of buying it. I guess it says a lot about it that the person I borrowed it from doesn't want it back, ha ha!
May 16, 2009 rated it it was ok
I was expecting this book to be a bit tongue-in-cheek, it is written by Chris Elliott after all, but this was even more over the top than expected. Borderline ridiculous. I really had a hard time getting through this book. In all fairness, there were some really funny parts, but overall not worth the time.
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