Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book


Rate this book
Daniel Ford has 30 days to live. Accused of the horrific murder of his best friend Nathan 12 years before, he has exhausted all appeals and now faces the long walk to the electric chair. All he can do is make peace with his God. Father John Rousseau is the man to whom the last month of Daniel's life has been entrusted. All the two men have left to do is rake over the last ashes of Ford's existence. So he begins to tell his story. Beginning with his first meeting with Nathan, aged 6, on the shores of a lake in 1952, through first loves, Vietnam, the death of Kennedy, and finally their flight from the draft which ended in Nathan's brutal murder.

344 pages, Hardcover

First published July 1, 2003

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

R.J. Ellory

39 books422 followers
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 frustration and did not start again for eight years.

In the early part of September 2001 he decided to start writing again. This decision was based on the realization that it was the only thing he had ever really wanted to do.

Between August 2001 and January 2002 he wrote three books, the second of which was called ‘Candlemoth’. This was purchased by Orion and published in 2003. ‘Candlemoth’ was translated into German, Dutch and Italian, and has now also been purchased for translation in numerous other languages. The book also secured a nomination on the shortlist for the Crime Writers’ Association Steel Dagger for Best Thriller 2003. His second book, ‘Ghostheart’, was released in 2004, and his third book, ‘A Quiet Vendetta’, was released in August 2005. In 2006 he published ‘City of Lies’, and once again secured a nomination for the CWA Steel Dagger for Best Thriller of that year. His fifth book – ‘A Quiet Belief In Angels’ - was published in August 2006, and in the latter part of the year it was selected for the phenomenally successful British TV equivalent of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club, the Richard and Judy Book Club.

‘A Quiet Belief In Angels’ went on to be shortlisted for the Barry Award for Best British Crime Fiction, the 813 Trophy, the Quebec Booksellers’ Prize, The Europeen Du Point Crime Fiction Prize, and was winner of the Inaugural Prix Roman Noir Nouvel Observateur. It has since been voted Best Thriller of 2009 in The Strand Magazine. The book was also optioned for film, and Roger has recently completed the screenplay for Oscar-winning French director, Olivier Dahan.

Following on from ‘A Quiet Belief In Angels’, Roger released ‘A Simple Act of Violence’, again securing a nomination for Best British Crime Fiction of 2008. In late 2009 he released ‘The Anniversary Man’ to rave reviews.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
486 (37%)
4 stars
521 (39%)
3 stars
227 (17%)
2 stars
60 (4%)
1 star
12 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 152 reviews
Profile Image for Gail.
398 reviews
May 12, 2014
There is little to say about this book (as I'm absolutely heartbroken and can barely see to type, if I'm honest) except to say it's just amazing, as are all R J Ellory books.

Briefly, we have the (just lovely) Daniel Ford who we know is on Death Row for the murder of his life long friend, Nathan Verney. Daniel and Nathan were inseparable throughout their lives and were like brothers.

Daniel is white and Nathan was black and in 1960's America it was a turbulent time for the long suffering black people; Daniel and Nathan being no exception to racial prejudice and violence along the way. Daniel never sees Nathan as anything other than his blood brother.

Daniel is recounting the events of his life from his cell and his friendships, loves and the time leading up to the murder to his only visitor, Father John Rousseau, and he looks forward to his visits. Mr West is the pure evil warder who taunts Daniel relentlessly as his execution day looms. Mr Timmons is the nice warder and who is extremely sympathetic to Daniel and brings him his wife's home baked apple fritters.

What i particularly liked was the reference to the conspiracy surrounding the assassination of JFK and one which has, for a long time, really interested me and this theory I totally believe is the most plausible and credible. There are some slightly overlong references to American politics but this does not deter from the fact that this is just an amazing book.

I need to go and get my breath back and perhaps read something a little lighter until I read the next Ellory book.....

Profile Image for Praveen Palakkazhi.
245 reviews19 followers
August 28, 2014
R.J Ellory has a curiously distinct voice which soaks the reader in a sense of melancholy and nostalgia, and which also elevates him above standard genre fare. His books can come under the category of Crime fiction, but there is a definite literary quality to his writing which can put him under the Literary fiction variety too. This is the second book of his I am reading (though it is his first published one) after the highly rated 'A Quiet Belief in Angels' and there is definitely a few similarities in the tone.

Daniel Ford met Nathan Verney when they were just six years old and a bond which started over a baked ham sandwich became a lifelong and deep friendship. However, the book opens with Daniel, now an adult, on death row for the murder of Nathan Verney and awaiting almost certain execution. Father John Rousseau will walk down the path of his life with him so that he, along with us can find out how it came to this sorry juncture.

In a series of flashbacks, Daniel narrates his life story until the fateful moment. Growing up in in 60's and 70's USA, racial tensions were still high at times and Daniel cements the friendship when he sticks up for his black friend rather than side with the whites who were baying for him after an altercation in their regular hangout. The result of this incident was another close bond formed with Eve Chantry, widow and virtual outcast in their town. In between all this, Daniel experiences the pangs of first love and heartbreak, passages described with great warmth and tenderness.

The period is when the Vietnam war is in full swing and more and more young Americans are being sent away to die in distant battlefields for causes they barely understand. Nathan is fiercely against fighting and is determined to escape the draft when it eventually comes for him. Daniel, though not completely sure, sides with him. When it comes for Nathan, they both decide to head their way out of town and into hiding. A path which will ultimately lead to their destruction, though neither could have known it at the time. The book travels through the turmoil and the pressing issues of the 60's and 70's as we follow the two protagonists through a land mired in issues of racial divide, controversy over the war and JFK's (as well as Robert Kennedy's) death and the hipster lifestyle. Some of the theories put forward by Ellory may seem outlandish, but it's obvious he has done his research well and has a flair for the dramatic.

Finally, it all comes down to the humanity of the characters. This may be primarily a crime thriller, but it has a depth and honesty to its characters that cannot be found in most of the genre. Daniel and Nathan are mostly just regular guys put into some very demanding situations, and just like any normal person, they make decisions sometimes which can come back to haunt them forever. Daniel's sequences with Father Rousseau and Eve Chantry are also very real and thought provoking and sheds light onto Ellory's underlying theme of human isolation in a world which moves on without a care. The climax may seem a tad unbelievable, but the emotional punch this book delivers cannot be ignored. A great read for both literary lovers as well as fans of crime fiction who want to make the switch to something more deep.
Profile Image for Paula Brandon.
1,076 reviews29 followers
July 21, 2020
One of the biggest criticisms and no-nos you'll find when reading reviews about books is the good old, "Telling instead of showing." As in, the writer should show how things are, rather than just tell the reader. For example, instead of just writing, "Lisa is really intelligent and witty," show examples of how Lisa is intelligent and witty. Authors and their books are accused of being quick and lazy if they tell and don't show.

Yet, here we have a book that has been widely acclaimed, with terrific reviews across the board, but about 80% of Candlemoth is the reader being told things about people and not shown. This is particularly true of the female characters, two of whom main character Daniel Ford falls in love with, one of whom is an older neighbourhood recluse he befriends. This also extends to his best friend, Nathan Verney. I never got a feel for the relationships that were supposed to define the book, because there was too much telling (of political events, which I'll get to later), and not enough actual dialogue to show the connection between these people.

The crux of the story is the friendship between Daniel Ford and Nathan Verney since they were six years old. Daniel is white. Nathan is black. Their friendship is viewed through a historical spectrum of race relations across the 1950s and 1960s. Nathan is murdered in 1970, and the book begins with Daniel in 1982, finally on death row, having been convicted of Nathan's murder. He tells the story of his friendship with Nathan through the years, particularly the late 60s as they run away to avoid the Draft. This retelling is done both through conversations with Father John Rousseau, and Daniel's own internal recollections.

The intent of the book, I suppose, was to show the "blood brother" relationship between Daniel and Nathan that transcends the inherent and institutionalised racism that is present in American politics and society for decades. The idea that Nathan's murder was possibly the work of a conspiracy that involves the Klu Klux Klan still operating behind the scenes in society should be powerful and shocking. But it's not. We just get told about this conspiracy as a series of facts related to Daniel by a prison inmate. Race relations in the 50s and 60s are presented in an encyclopedia fashion with little insight as to how they truly affect Daniel and Nathan.

Indeed, about 50% of this book just felt like a recitation of historical political facts. Many chapters will go on for four or five pages just listing political events of any given month or year of the 50s and 60s. It wasn't much different from reading a history book. And if I want to read a history book, fiction isn't the place I go to get it! I ended up skipping large sections of the text because I was so bored by these frequent, lengthy forays into regurgitated facts.

The book also had what I felt was Forrest Gump syndrome. Every single person that Daniel Ford encounters in his life has some special, profound importance in his life that changes him in certain ways. It started getting a bit ridiculous. All of it told to us, not shown, of course, because the author is too busy reciting historical facts. The two wardens Daniel interacts with in prison are straight out of cliche city. (One is kindhearted, and one is despicably evil to the point of moustache twirling.)

I'm in the minority here, obviously. I don't understand why "telling, not showing," is a major criticism for many, many books, and yet when it's done here so extensively, people are still lauding it as some minor classic. This was dry and dull, I didn't connect to the characters and their relationships, and to even call it a crime novel in the first place is a pretty big stretch.
Profile Image for Jennifer (JC-S).
2,966 reviews203 followers
August 25, 2011
‘I have faith in the fact that I am going to die.’

It’s 1982 and Daniel Ford is thirty-six years old. Twelve years ago, Daniel was convicted of the murder of his best friend, Nathan Verney. In thirty-six days, he will walk to the electric chair and pay with his life.

‘I ask myself what life is, what does it mean? Perhaps nothing more than a story, and each story different and rare and pronounced with its own voice.’

Father John Rousseau has been assigned to talk with Daniel during this last period of his life, and it is their conversations that lead us through Daniel’s life. Daniel’s friendship with Nathan started when they were aged six, and had its own difficulties in the American south of the 1950s: Nathan was coloured. The narrative takes us through the tumultuous events of the 1960s and 1970s in America: the backdrop of racial tensions; civil rights marches; assassinations and conspiracy theories; and the shadow of the Vietnam War shape the world in which Daniel and Nathan grew to adulthood.

So, what happened for Nathan to be killed and Daniel to be convicted of his murder? We learn Daniel’s story as he tells it to Father Rousseau – the history is familiar, and the personal events unfold against that backdrop. If Nathan’s murder defines the beginning of the end of Daniel’s life, then it is necessary to go back to the beginning to understand how and why Nathan was murdered. We readers do not have the answers until the end of the novel.

'Best as I can recall it all started with a baked ham.'

This is the third of Mr Ellory’s novels that I’ve read (although it was the first one published), and I enjoyed it. Daniel is a totally believable character, as are many of the secondary characters in the novel. At times I felt the story was in danger of being overwhelmed by the times in which it was set but by then I was totally engrossed in Daniel’s story. And the ending? Read it for yourself and see what you think.

‘Four times I’ve been betrayed – twice by women, once by a better friend than any man may wish for, and lastly by a nation. And perhaps, truth be known, I betrayed myself.’

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
Profile Image for Rob Twinem.
854 reviews37 followers
June 6, 2010
R J Ellory's books are about human nature and human emotion exposed....You cannot help but be touched and greatly affected by his writing long after the book is finished. What I find so powerful in this and other books is is depiction of childhood and how our childhood experiences stay and affect us all our lives. Candlemoth is about being on death row and the realization and inevitably of our own mortality, this is a great starting point to evaluate and make sense of our lives. Candlemoth is a beautifully written, constructed and paced novel and I urge you to read it as it may come some way in helping us all make sense of our own meagre existence!
Profile Image for Eddie Owens.
Author 7 books54 followers
April 24, 2019
Well written but dull.

I feel like I have read this same story so many times: killer on death row relives his life to a priest.

However, something like "Knock on any Door" by Willard Motley is much more compelling.

In terms of prison stories, Stephen King's "Shawshank" and "The Green Mile" are far more interesting.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for John Gall.
41 reviews1 follower
August 20, 2011
Superb book, good storyline, beautifully written. I would strongly recommend this book, and very much look forward to reading more by this author who came strongly recommended.
Profile Image for Aude Bouquine Lagandre.
455 reviews121 followers
June 23, 2019
Daniel Ford est dans le couloir de la mort. Il attend son exécution. Comme la procédure le lui permet, un prêtre lui rend régulièrement visite pour discuter. Au gré de ces conversations avec John Rousseau, Daniel se souvient : de la naissance de son amitié avec Nathan, de l’émergence des premiers émois amoureux, des évènements joyeux et tragiques qui ont jalonnés sa vie. Au milieu du tumulte historique qui commence en 1961 par l’élection de Kennedy, des conflits ségrégationnistes, de la guerre du Vietnam, Daniel voit ses souvenirs affluer. Le roman commence en 1982, Daniel a 36 ans, mais c’est bien en 1952 que nous sommes plongés, date à laquelle Daniel rencontre Nathan, petit garçon noir au rire communicatif. Entre passé et présent, les émotions ressurgissent, intactes.

Beaucoup de choses ont déjà ét�� écrites sur ce livre. « Papillon de nuit » est le premier ouvrage de RJ Ellory publié aux éditions Sonatine. Il est assez enivrant de découvrir la patte de l’auteur à ses débuts, alors que j’ai achevé il y a peu de temps, son dernier ouvrage « Le chant de l’assassin ». J’y ai retrouvé tout ce que j’aime chez lui : l’atmosphère noire, des personnages denses, des réflexions intimes sur l’Humanité et le sens de la vie, des sujets polémiques concernant l’Histoire américaine.

Je referme ce livre avec beaucoup de nostalgie, je laisse Danny et Nathan exister à travers les lignes, même d’un livre fermé, car dans ma tête ils vivent toujours, comme Evan Riggs ou Henri Quinn. Cette lecture a suivi celle de l’excellent « Replay » qui m’avait apportée tant d’émotions. Celui-ci est fait dans la même veine, du même bois : de l’émotion à l’état brut.

Ma fille aînée me demandait hier si je n’avais pas l’impression de vivre une vie par procuration en étant sans cesse plongée dans un livre narrant la vie des autres. Il y a peu d’auteurs capables de vous emporter à la fois dans un récit, mais aussi au fond de vous-même, tout au fond, là où sont terrées vos émotions, vos rages, vos joies. RJ Ellory est un magicien, un magicien doué avec les mots qu’il manie par le biais de phrases longues, percutantes, où la poésie virevolte à chaque page, simplement en parlant du destin d’un homme, d’une nation, de l’humanité au sens large. Son écriture vous emporte par delà le tangible, au-delà des mots que vous pourriez utiliser pour qualifier son œuvre. Il vous laisse sans voix, mais avec tellement de béatitude, tellement de citations qui font sens, tant d’idées déclenchant la réflexion sur la condition humaine, la vie, l’absurdité de certains choix, l’honneur, l’amitié, la parole donnée, la différence, la cruauté.

Je réitère mon amour inconditionnel pour cet écrivain britannique qui n’a pas son pareil pour vous entraîner sur les chemins de l’histoire américaine avec passion, et lucidité. Il dit de lui qu’il veut « écrire des histoires qui ont un effet sur les gens ». Il est, sans conteste, une voix de la littérature noire qui résonne dans votre tête longtemps après le livre refermé, et laisse dans votre cœur une plaie béante. J’ai souri en lisant les remerciements à la fin du roman : « À tous ceux qui ont cru que je ne vaudrais jamais rien. » Joli pied de nez à la vie, à ceux qui ont le cœur aussi noir que celui du gardien de prison West, à tous ceux qui par leurs mots ont tenté de détruire un être en construction.

J’aime son regard sur l’histoire américaine : il est sans concession et d’une grande lucidité. Les années 60 sont une période de prédilection pour l’auteur et souvent je me demande si, en enlevant les dates dans ses romans, les faits d’hier ne pourraient pas s’appliquer à ce qui se passe dans le pays aujourd’hui. Je vis en Californie, mais avant cela, j’habitais près de Detroit, Michigan où les problèmes de couleur de peau étaient toujours extrêmement présents. Certes, les noirs ne sont plus parqués au fond des bus, et pourtant, le racisme ordinaire est toujours d’actualité. J’ai retrouvé dans cette citation, « Je crois qu’elle venait du genre de milieu où elle pouvait obtenir à peu près tout ce qu’elle voulait sans trop d’efforts. Quand vous vivez comme ça quelque temps, je crois que les choses commencent à perdre leur valeur. Les relations aussi. Je suppose que si vous avez de l’argent, il a toujours des gens qui font la queue pour être votre meilleur ami. », tout ce que j’ai vécu en Californie qui résume si parfaitement mon désir profond de partir. Ce drapeau qui affiche ses étoiles comme un étendard de pléthores possibles cache sa crasse sous le tapis.

Je ne suis pas croyante. Et pourtant, les interrogations de RJ Ellory sur l’existence de Dieu me touchent. Le doute, prégnant « J’ai cherché Dieu, là-haut. Je ne l’ai pas vu. Je me suis dit qu’il avait mieux à faire. » se mélange sans cesse à la certitude « Je crois au karma. Je crois que Dieu existe. »

Ses personnages sont d’une profondeur incomparable. Ici, Daniel a lui aussi « plus de souvenirs que s’il avait mille ans. » L’introspection sincère, perspicace de sa propre vie est vibrante. Les êtres qu’il côtoie, cette amitié indéfectible avec Nathan, ou cette tendresse presque maternelle avec Eve Chantry engendrent sa propre construction. On ne grandit qu’au contact des autres parfois dans la fureur et dans le bruit, parfois dans l’amitié ou l’amour. Cette compassion qu’Ellory possède pour le genre humain, cette propension à accepter les forces et les faiblesses, les actes justes et les injustices, font de ses romans des œuvres humanistes. L’opposition des gardiens Timmons et West en est une magnifique démonstration.

Enfin, il a le don de me laisser hagarde, les yeux dans le vague, à juste lire certaines phrases qui me remuent les tripes. « La vérité est ce qu’elle est, tu es ce que tu es, et même si ton point de vue peut changer, même si tu as peut-être une perspective nouvelle sur quelque chose, ton cœur, et ce en quoi tu crois et qui tu es au fond de toi seront toujours toi…et du dois écouter ce cœur, tu dois croire que ce que tu as fait est juste, et qu’importe ce que peuvent dire, penser ou faire les autres, tu dois avoir foi dans tes décisions. » Puis plus loin, « Je me demande ce qu’est la vie, ce qu’elle signifie. Peut-Être n’est-elle rien de plus qu’une histoire, une voix chaque fois différente et rare, racontée avec une voix propre. »

Quand je lis Ellory, je sens toujours l’homme et ses valeurs en premier. Puis vient l’écrivain. Il n’a pas son pareil pour brosser l’enfance, l’amitié, et l’amour. Son écriture est tripale. Quand il vous emmène dans les couloirs du couloir de la mort, c’est comme si vous y étiez. Quand il oblige un personnage à l’introspection, il déterre la substantifique moelle de son destin « Le recul — notre conseiller le plus cruel et le plus perspicace — vacillait dans le rétroviseur de mon esprit. »

Nous sommes tous des papillons de nuit « attirés par la lumière, car nous voulons être vus, nous voulons que notre propre beauté magique soit reconnue ». Nous sommes des êtres de contradictions. Nous sommes des êtres de lumière et d’ombre et RJ Ellory pose toujours sur nous son regard bienveillant.

Profile Image for Sonya Serial Reader.
280 reviews332 followers
June 15, 2016
Ce livre n'est pas un thriller, ni du polar pur et dur..ce livre se rapproche plûtot du roman noir, mais à mon avis reste inclassable..
On se trouve plongé dans l'Amérique des années soixante et soixante-dix avec tous ses bouleversements: Le racisme, le Vietnam, l'Assassinat de JFK puis de son frère, le désespoir d'une nation, Nixon, la Watergate, le Klan, les complots et l'empire invisible...
On accompagne Daniel, condamné à la peine capital par chaise électrique, accusé de tuer Nathan son meilleur ami de toujours dans son voyage à travers ses souvenirs d'enfance, d'adolescence, son passage forcé à l'âge adulte, son innocence bafouée, ses aventures, ses rêves, ses luttes, toujours avec Nathan, son ami noir..malgré et contre tous. On s'insurge contre l'injustice du procès, la nonchalance de Danny, le compte à rebours, la cruauté d'un certain gardien...
De bout à bout, ce roman nous inspire la douceur, la colère, l'espoir, la peur, la joie l'impatience, le désespoir, la frustration...et nous tient haletant jusqu'au dénouement glorieux.
Chargé d'émotions, poignant, percutant, ce livre est une vrai ode à l'amitié et à la tolérance. On ne peut qu'être touché..et apprécier le voyage
Profile Image for Stephanie (Stepping Out Of The Page).
465 reviews221 followers
May 22, 2011
Candlemoth is truly a phenomenal book that was gripping from start to end. Apart from it being quite predictable, I can't really fault it. The characters were well formed and the plot was interesting. I thought that the writing flowed smoothly and the transition from present day to past memories worked extremely well. I adored the symbolism of the candlemoth. This book works so well at delving deep into so many issues and could perhaps even be considered a bit of a history lesson (though certainly not a tedious one!), covering important events during the civil rights movement and through the war in Vietnam. Exploration of these subjects and the emotions and morality associated makes this book what it is. It's interesting and it's gripping. I'm really surprised that more people haven't yet read this book as it's something I would consider to be of importance, reflecting on America's history. This is certainly a book that I'd encourage people to read and I'm sure that the story will stay with me for a long time.
48 reviews4 followers
February 25, 2009
This is a real "wow" book. It has shades of John Irving about it, particularly A Prayer For Owen Meany. Like Owen Meany, it's set during the Vietnam War, has the relationship between two young boys at its centre and you know one of the boys will die from the outset. It could have been sentimental, overdone and downbeat but the author handles all these issues sensitively in beautiful prose

Having read the header description posted from Amazon I thought I was in for a mediocre read but the review could not have been more wrong. Perhaps the reviewer was reading a different book because this one was faultless.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Mohammed  Abdikhader  Firdhiye .
418 reviews2 followers
July 22, 2011
For this kind of epic flasback story with so much emotions to it and with backdrop of important US history of 50s,60s etc the writing was not good enough for me to believe the personal story of the characters,the characters themselves.
28 reviews2 followers
July 27, 2021
4.5 out of 5. There were some things I didn’t like about this book, however my overall feeling was WOW. I was really affected by this book on lots of different levels. I learnt a lot about American history (although I did think the depth of information provided was at times overwhelming), and lives of American people (both black and white) throughout the 20th century. I thought the sections written from Daniel’s time in prison were excellent, and really indicative of what it must have been like for him ( ‘The sounds… all the sounds - the buzzers, the grating of metal against metal, the clang of a door slamming into its socket, the turning of keys. The sounds of my life it seemed’).

I felt as though I was holding my breath throughout the run up to his execution date - and was really moved by his descent into despair as the date got closer. I found the story compelling, interesting and very sad, but thought the ending could have been expanded and developed further with regards to the findings in court and the unravelling of the state corruption. I’m also not sure about the eye for an eye murder or mr west at the end - although it indulges the desire for justice and revenge, I think it might have been more apt to have found evidence to connect him to murders. Overall though, a really wonderful read that I strongly recommend!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Christine Bonheure.
606 reviews231 followers
April 20, 2017
3,5 sterren. Dit debuut van Ellory vertelt over de vriendschap tussen blanke Danny en zwarte Nathan tijdens het Amerika van de jaren 60/70. De auteur vertelt meeslepend over het lief en leed dat beide vrienden delen, hun eerste stappen in de liefde en hun protest tegen de oorlog in Vietnam. Ellory weet de sfeer van die dagen – met de moorden op Martin Luther King en Kennedy - subliem op te roepen. Wanneer Nathan wordt vermoord, wordt Danny ter dood veroordeeld. In de dagen voor zijn executie vertelt Danny aan een priester over die fatale dag in 1970 en de gebeurtenissen die eraan vooraf gingen. Sterke en spannende pageturner in een vlotte vertaling. Alleen jammer van dat Hollywood-einde. Daar hou ik niet zo van. Vond ik trouwens ook een storend element in Woesten, maar dat uiteraard volledig terzijde.
Profile Image for Judi Mckay.
1,001 reviews4 followers
January 7, 2021
This was a Xmas present. Not sure I’d have picked this for myself
Good book. Would make a brilliant movie and one scene in particular was truly bum clenching!

Profile Image for Jaime.
1,378 reviews76 followers
July 25, 2018
“Four times I’ve been betrayed – twice by women, once by a better friend than any man might wish for, and lastly by a nation. And perhaps, truth be known, I betrayed myself. So that makes five.”

R.J. Ellory always grabs me from the instant his story begins. This is the third of his novels I’ve read (the first he published), and each time I’ve been captivated by the opening lines.

Candlemoth is the story of Daniel Ford, a young white man who grew up in the South Carolina of the 50s. From the beginning of the book, you learn that Daniel is on death row, awaiting execution for the murder of his best friend, a young black man named Nathan. And you get the feeling that Daniel is actually not guilty, and not just because he says he isn’t.

What follows is Daniel’s recollection of his and Nathan’s life together, from their school boy days to the tumultuous times surrounding the Vietnam War, all the way to Nathan’s death. (Note: Coincidentally, while reading this I was watching Ken Burn’s Vietnam documentary, which helped me connect to the story even more.)

“If I try to collapse this thing into one statement, like trying to synthesize the extent and scope of my life into one paragraph, it is really about nothing more than a friendship. My friendship with Nathan Verney was really the beginning and end of everything. It was with Nathan Verney that I discovered the world, and I cannot think of any significant event that occurred prior to his death that we didn’t share.”

Theirs is a close and unusual friendship, in the days when the Ku Klux Klan still infiltrated the highest levels of society and white boys were not encouraged to play with their black compatriots. We see everything through Daniel’s eyes, both the past that he is recollecting to Father John Rousseau during the final days of his captivity and the present, as he tries to come to terms with his impending execution.

“Maybe the closer you get to your own death, the nearer you are to the dead.”

The final 15% of this novel is a master class. Ellory creates a palpable tension as Daniel’s execution date closes in and his own sense of time becomes more and more disoriented, until he is no longer sure when exactly he is going to die. Can he be brave in the end? Will he beg for his life? Will he feel forgiven, or forever condemned? I couldn’t put it down.

The way the story wraps up was not completely unexpected to me — I had somewhat caught on to what was going on — but there were still some surprises in store. All in all, I found the ending very satisfying.

If you enjoy character-driven crime stories, Ellory is the guy for you. I’ll say it time and time again.
58 reviews1 follower
May 7, 2013
Het verhaal van vriendschap en verraad is prachtig geschreven. De (ongelofelijke) geschiedenis vanaf de jaren 60 tot en met de jaren 80 is goed verweven in het plot betreffende de moord op Nathan Verney. De emoties voel je.
Ik vind het niet echt een thriller. Je bent benieuwd hoe het afloopt, maar spannend: nee.
De continue verwijzingen naar dat er iets staat te gebeuren, gaan op een gegeven moment irriteren.

Priester blijkt uiteindelijk undercover agent. Vader van vriendin - politicus - wilde niet dat zij met zwarte man omging. Ging Daniel bedreigen, uiteindelijk wordt Nathan vermoord. Vriendin wordt opgesloten in psychiatrische inrichting. Eindigt in vrijspraak

Metafoor van het nachtuiltje:
De vlinder is er trots op dat hij zulke mooie kleuren heeft en zo elegant is, en zijn vleugels in de zon kan spreiden. Het uiltje, zijn naaste verwant, is echter een nachtdiertje. Het nachtuiltje bezit een schoonheid die gelijk is aan die van een vlinder, maar dat ziet het niet...En wat nog belangrijker is: de mensen zien het ook niet, omdat het voornamelijk 's nachts rondvliegt. En nachtuiltjes worden door het licht aangetrokken omdat ze gezien willen worden, en omdat ze hun eigen magische schoonheid erkend willen zien.
Omdat ze willen dat iedereen het ziet, vliegen ze steeds dichter naar de lichtbron om zichzelf nog beter te belichten. De hitte is de prijs die ze betalen om een vlinder te zijn, maar ze vinden die prijs niet te hoog. Ze vliegen in steeds kleinere cirkels en ineens heel onverwachts, bij die laatste wiekslag van de tere vleugel, vatten ze vlam en gaat hun lijfje in helgeel en rood en blauw op...En op dat ogenblik is het nachtuiltje eindelijk een vlinder geworden.

Iets wat zo zijn best deed om iets anders te zijn, wat er niet in slaagde zijn eigen waarde te begrijpen en daarom tot aan zijn dood bleef proberen om iets anders te worden.
Profile Image for Gisela Hafezparast.
607 reviews45 followers
December 7, 2015
Really it is a 3.5

I really enjoyed the historic details of this book and then the description of the two main authors relationship as children and teenagers. However, I felt whilst their "flight" was descriped very well, I would have like much more on how this changed their relationship. To understand them and what happened better it would have also been helpful to hear more about their parents, surrounding, etc. Whilst Daniel's love life was well documented, Nathan's important relationships were missing.

Moreover, whilst I had expected it, the end was a bit abrupt and could have been written better. However, it was a good view from an insider into America's and especially Southern America's life in the 60s and 70s.
Profile Image for David.
19 reviews
March 9, 2012
This is the book that got me started with Roger Ellory.

Glad I found it in the 'interestsing reads' section of my local library. I have since bought it for myself, and re-read it.

Other reviews have captured the story and resolution better than I, but for me I liked this in the way that I liked Stewart O'Nan's 'The Good Wife' - the mapping of the characters' psyches that leads them (in both books) into a resignation that one's life is mapped out and it's too hard for us to climb out of the pit and change the course of one's existence.
At least it is without the love and help of others......
Profile Image for Beth (bibliobeth).
1,939 reviews53 followers
July 23, 2011
Really enjoyed this book, good story and well written, a few unnecessary parts I thought but by the end I couldn't put it down. Looking forward to reading more by this writer.
Profile Image for Teresa O.
160 reviews20 followers
July 15, 2012
Easily the best book I have read this year. In the vein of "The Help"/"To Kill A Mocking Bird"/To Sir With Love". Brilliant.
Profile Image for Pascale Bonetti.
127 reviews7 followers
June 26, 2020
Un premier roman de grande qualité *****

présélectionné pour le CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger 2003

parution en livre de poche : 1er février 2017

Ayant adoré "A Quiet Belief in Angels" ("Seul le silence"), "Ghostheart" et, dans une moindre mesure, "A Simple Act of Violence" et "Anniversary Man", j'avais un peu hésité à lire "Candlemoth" ("Papillon de nuit") en me disant qu'en tant que premier roman, il ne serait qu'une pâle esquisse de ce que l'auteur écrirait ultérieurement avec brio. Grave erreur, "Candlemoth" a la maturité d'un auteur accompli et il est difficile de concevoir qu'il s'agit là de la première oeuvre de R.J. Ellory.

L'histoire est narrée par Daniel Ford, qui vit ses dernières semaines dans le couloir de la mort avant d'être exécuté sur la chaise électrique pour le meurtre de son ami d'enfance Nathan Vierney. Il raconte son amitié avec Nathan, les difficultés nées du fait que Nathan est de race noire, et retrace leur histoire en parallèle avec celle de l'Amérique des années soixante, et notamment la guerre du Vietnam qui vient bouleverser leurs vies.

Le suspense tient évidemment au fait que d'une part, le lecteur ne perçoit pas ce qui a pu mener Daniel à assassiner son ami compte tenu de la force du lien qui les unit, et que d'autre part, le compte à rebours morbide a commencé pour Daniel, que chaque heure rapproche de son exécution. R.J. Ellory parvient magnifiquement à transmettre les émotions et j'avoue avoir dévoré la fin du livre le coeur battant, tant on ressent l'angoisse terrifiante qui s'empare du condamné à l'approche de l'exécution, indépendamment des raisons qui l'ont mené là.

Un petit bémol pour la résolution finale -mais je n'en dis pas plus pour ne pas lever le voile-, mais qui n'empêche pas l'ensemble de vraiment valoir le détour. Bien écrit, intelligent, parfois didactique, plein de sensibilité. Vivement conseillé...

Profile Image for Ingrid Fasquelle.
917 reviews32 followers
June 16, 2018
R. J. Ellory est né en 1965 en Angleterre. Après avoir connu l’orphelinat et la prison, il devient guitariste dans un groupe de rythm n'blues, avant de se tourner vers la photographie, puis l’écriture. Papillon de nuit est son premier roman publié en France. C’est un portrait saisissant, dur et troublant d’une Amérique qui se cherche, un récit fascinant qui entremêle le présent et le passé, sonde les émotions intimes et fouille les replis les plus nauséabonds de l’Histoire des États-Unis.
Assassinat de Kennedy, guerre du Vietnam, lutte pour les droits civiques, ségrégation, Ku Klux Klan, scandale du Watergate..., voilà le cadre que R.J. Ellory a choisi pour raconter l’histoire déchirante et réaliste de ce prisonnier dans le couloir de la mort. C’est dur, poignant, captivant, et lorsque Daniel revient sur son histoire d’amitié avec Nathan Verney, le lecteur est peu à peu gagné par l’émotion et le doute. Se peut-il que Daniel ait commis un meurtre fratricide à l’image de celui de Caïn ? A-t-il tué cet ami, ce frère avec qui il a tout partagé depuis leur rencontre sur les bords du lac Marion, à l’âge de six ans ? Bien vite, il apparaît que rien n’est vraiment très clair…
Entre règlements de compte, haine raciale, mensonges et corruption, Papillon de nuit aspire le lecteur dans les tréfonds d’une âme humaine que toute lueur d’espoir semble avoir déserté… Une intrigue magistrale et très engagée qui subjugue et tient le lecteur captif jusqu’à la dernière page.
Profile Image for Catherine.
127 reviews7 followers
December 22, 2017
Daniel Ford has thirty-six days to live. Accused of the horrific murder of his best friend Nathan twelve years before, he has exhausted all appeals and now faces the long walk to the electric chair. All he can do is make peace with his God. Father John Rousseau is the man to whom the last month of Daniel's life has been entrusted. All the two men have left to do is rake over the last ashes of Ford's existence. So he begins to tell his story. Daniel's story takes him from his first meeting with Nathan, aged six, on the shores of a lake in 1952, through first loves, Vietnam, the death of Kennedy and finally their flight from the draft which ends in Nathan's brutal murder. But meanwhile the clock is ticking and the days are running out . . .

Oh my goodness, there are no words for this. Beautifully written, completely captivating. RJ Ellory has such a way of writing that the reader truly 'feels' the story. Be prepared to live through the life of Daniel Ford, the triumphs, heartbreaks and the unbreakable friendship between two young men, which ultimately ends in tragedy. I laughed at times, but my goodness I cried. I felt every emotion in this book. A truly beautiful novel, which will leave you grounded and thankful for the life you have. I only wish I'd read it sooner! 5 stars! Definitely recommended!!
Profile Image for Cosmopolit_213.
117 reviews
February 28, 2022
J’étais à la limite du coup de cœur, une lecture délectable, le décor et l’ambiance [une atmosphère similaire à celle de la ligne verte] sont posés dès les premières lignes, on est tout de suite happé par l’histoire et surtout par le destin « tragique » du protagoniste, un homme accusé du meurtre d’un Noir. Une peinture de l’Amérique en crise des sixties, entre la guerre du Vietnam, l’assassinat de Kennedy, le racisme, le Ku Klux Klan, une politique et une justice corrompue…un cocktail qui vous captive et qui m’a appris des choses au passage. On suit la vie des deux protagonistes et en parallèle la crise politique, qui entrainera l’Amérique dans les bas-fonds, aucune lenteur, aucun ennui en somme j’ai adoré, hormis une fin prévisible et le genre qui me gâche toute une histoire qui m’a fasciné [d’où le non-coup de cœur finalement lol], j’aurai tellement aimé une autre fin plus mémorable, différente, mais ça reste une excellente lecture qui me restera en mémoire.
98 reviews
March 12, 2023
Wat een boek! Wat een verhaal! Wat een schrijver!...

Ik las van R.J.Ellory reeds “bekraste zielen”, waarin naar mij gevoel wat te veel gemoord en geplunderd werd, maar besloot de man toch nog een kans te geven.

Stervensuur is alles tegelijk: Een verhaal over vriendschap, een stuk (Amerikaanse en wereld-) geschiedenis, een verhaal over discriminatie, over liefde en lust, over herinneringen, over beslissingen en spijt…

Ik las ergens over Ellory dat hij van Engelse afkomst is en pas na 22 (!) boeken getolereerd werd als schrijver omdat men vond dat het niet kon dat een Engelse schrijver zijn verhalen in Amerika laat afspelen.

Na het lezen van dit ronduit prachtige verhaal schrijft hij dan ook in zijn korte maar mooie ‘Dankwoord’ waarin hij onder andere zijn overleden moeder en grootmoeder dankte, evenals de vader die hij nooit gekend heeft: “Aan allen die geloofden dat ik nooit iets zou klaarspelen”… En ja, toen hield ik het niet meer droog!

Wat een boek!
Profile Image for Nancy.
47 reviews
August 27, 2017
Il y a des livres qui marquent et dont on se rappelle encore des années plus tard. Papillon de nuit fait partie de ces livres.
Non seulement l'auteur, par des flash-backs bien amenés, ménage le suspense jusqu'au bout mais il nous peint aussi le portrait de l'Amérique des années 60/70.
Cette Amérique qu'on connait vaguement mais qu'on découvre de l'intérieur. Bien sûr on sait qu'il y avait la ségrégation, et la guerre du Vietnam, l'assassinat de Kennedy et de Martin Luther King ont marqués les mémoires mais c'est autre chose de vivre ça de l'intérieur au travers du regard de Daniel.
Et puis, il y a toutes les scènes dans la prison, dont certaines glacent le sang.
Mais ce livre est aussi et surtout l'histoire d'une formidable amitié qui ira bien au delà des préjugés et conduira les deux jeunes hommes vers une aventure malheureusement fatale.
65 reviews2 followers
August 27, 2020
I am very surprised by the ratings for this book. I read the anniversary man and really enjoyed it. However I don't think I enjoyed one page of this book. The character development was poor. I never came to like or understand the characters. And the main character just lamented about his sad life the whole time but you never understood his emotions are pain or the reasons in which he got there. And the surprise ending was exactly what I had anticipated and kept reading for. However even that seemed to fall short. This was the first novel I actually finished in a long time that I did not like at all. And the reason I kept reading it was because of how much I enjoy the anniversary man and expected more out of this author.
Profile Image for Kris Van Laer.
181 reviews1 follower
November 2, 2018
This is my third book I've read from Ellory ( 2 in a row) and again i was not dissappointed. Ellory's writing style is great and he has a gift in creating characters you can symphatize with ( sometimes I feel some Stephen King in him, though different genre). In this book Danny is looking back in death row on his life by confessing to a priest. Convicted ( innocently) for murdering his best friend the book takes you back to the sixties in the US, a country in turmoil due to rascism, murders, riots and of course the Vietnam war which causes Danny to make a life-changing decision. Will Danny be executed or not? You will find out in the last pages but be prepared for some surprises.
426 reviews1 follower
August 25, 2021
This is one of the best books I have read. I had not read any RJ Ellory previously but a friend of mine said he was her favourite author. Praise indeed and I was not disappointed. Although classed as a thriller it is more than that. It is also about live and events in mid 20th century America. The true facts and events integrate well throughout the story. The main Character Daniel Ford is on death row for murder. He tells his story with flashbacks to events that led him up to being there. There is an unexpected twist at the end which I did not see coming. This book well worth a read whether you like thrillers or a good story.
This book gets a VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 152 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.