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Ordinary Decent Criminals

2.85  ·  Rating details ·  97 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Estrin Lancaster has fled Philadelphia for a life of perpetual motion. Now, in Belfast, she revels more than she would like in the company of Ireland's most inflammatory wit, Farrell O'Phelan. Born into conflict, his acute mind is irredeemably twisted by his efforts to make sense of Ireland.
Paperback, 448 pages
Published May 24th 1993 by Flamingo
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Average rating 2.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  97 ratings  ·  14 reviews

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Leo Robertson
Oh deary me! I can't really recommend this.

Shriver's novels come in two varieties from my experience: the tightly plotted (Double Fault, Big Brother, Kevin) and the all-out ramble (A Perfectly Good Family, this.) And she maintains that all her novels have the same quality so until I've read all of them apart from The New Republic that doesn't look that great, just ward off the bigger ones.

There was this one female character and I don't think she got off the bed the entire time. I don't mean to
Gail Addis
At first I found it strange that LS was writing in such depth, and with such insight about the Troubles, but she has lived in Northern Ireland.
Not an uplifting book, but then, what would you expect from her?
Laura Hogensen
Do you enjoy long winded, multi-layered, multi-POV novels about fractured people and countries and the dualities that we all carry within ourselves and how these "bits" can contribute to one's complexity and fascination but also can completely undermine any sort of lasting human relationship? WELL I DO. I don't know what kind of genre this is, but this novel is reminiscent of "A Perfect Spy", "The Untouchable", and a handful of other books that I am too excited to remember right now. ODC will be ...more
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read again and again

One difficult book to read but as poetic as it is frustrating. Shriver has much to say, as she honestly admits, and what she had to say is delivered with machine gun accuracy. Suffering for suffering's sake is so Catholic. Righteousness and bigotry so Protestant. One gets a huge dose of both in this book. Not too mention more about the Irish Troubles than one ever cared to know, yet compelling enough to keep watch all the way to the conference and beyond. This is the one book
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very interesting and confusing, as someone who doesn't know much about "the Troubles". I thought it was a very vivid depiction of the conflicting nature of a place in upheaval, how it can be simultaneously terrifying and exciting and ordinary. For people who like drama life in such a place as Northern Ireland can be utterly compelling.
Alison Offerdal
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written, engaging characters - Lionel Shriver never disappoints!
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-loan
i had been shuffling fitfully through this book for a couple of months... yesterday i grabbed it at the half way mark and powered through to the end. glad i did.
Nita Wilkes
Unusual book. I found the plot a little disjointed but I also couldn't put it down. Not the typical book I tend to read but I did enjoy it.
Sammy DiSalvo
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was the first novel I have not been able to finish. I reached the midpoint and could not read further because the novel was that disinteresting to me.

The novel was drawn out and the characters were all the same shallow and distant person albeit with different histories that brought them there. The other 2 Shriver novels I read were fantastic (except the end of "Big Brother" I am still angered by) but this novel was sub-par for the brilliant author.

I recommend her other work but not this
Hannah Whiteoak
This book grew on me. I found it difficult to get into at first, possibly due to not knowing enough about Northern Irish politics and the Troubles. The prose style in the beginning seemed opaque, which surprised me as I've always enjoyed Lionel Shriver's writing. I couldn't figure out which characters I was supposed to care about. To be honest, the only reason I persevered through the first hundred pages was that Lionel Shriver is one of my favourite authors.

However, I'm glad I didn't give up.
Lori Howard
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
I picked up this book after friends suggested I read other novels by Lionel Shriver, as it was the only one on the library shelf, and did something while reading I have never done -- I skipped a bunch of pages in the middle of the book. What I found most tedious were the conversations, which were more like back and forth monologues. No one talks to another person in such lengthy paragraphs! The ending did have a bit of a twist, so it was worth finishing.
This picked up after I had almost given up about half-way through, but the characters were difficult to relate to and seemed more like charicatures than real people. The plot in the final part of the book was interesting, but it took too long to get there. Still, quite a few beautifully written sentences that stood out and provided the three stars I gave this.
Aug 28, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I almost never quit a book, but I simply could not finish this.
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Lionel Shriver's novels include the New York Times bestseller The Post-Birthday World and the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin, which won the 2005 Orange Prize and has now sold over a million copies worldwide. Earlier books include Double Fault, A Perfectly Good Family, and Checker and the Derailleurs. Her novels have been translated into twenty-five languages. Her journalism ...more