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The White Mercedes

3.2  ·  Rating details ·  1,341 Ratings  ·  114 Reviews
A chance meeting with Jenny at an Oxford party leaves seventeen-year-old Chris with hope for a summer romance--and no premonition of trouble. Busy with his job and soon in love with Jenny, whose cheerful surface belies the dark uncertainty of her past, Chris misses all the signs of danger. Before he knows it, he's caught in the sinister web of a criminal whose desire for r ...more
Paperback, 170 pages
Published July 22nd 1997 by Laurel Leaf (first published 1992)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Mar 25, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not gonna lie, this was wholeheartedly disappointing.

I was expecting the level of brilliance Pullman brought to His Dark Materials. And well this had none of that. It also lacked the charm and sense of wonder HDM provided.

Yes, I understand this was written far earlier in his career, and did not expect it to be on par, but I am astounded by how lackluster this was. It is told in there sections. The first section had promise and lead me to think this was going to get much better. He introduced his
K.J. Chapman
If I had to sum this book up, I'd say it was a story of adolescent love and a side helping of gansters. That being said the narrative was understated, and in Pullman style, the prose was beautiful. The whole story was a retelling of the very first sentence; a corker of an opening line:

Chris Marshall met the girl he was going to kill on a warm Oxford night in early June.

I already knew Pullman had a knack for creating characters that draw you in, and this book was no different. Chris was a superbl
Jun 04, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People in their late teens, fans of thrillers.
Shelves: novels
It's confession time (blush). When I read novels I often find it very tempting to skim in places.... even worse, I sometimes get an overwhelming urge to leapfrog over the bulk of book to go for an advance peek at the ending. Am I the only person on Goodreads who flicks down the reviews to find the ones marked 'Spoiler alert'?

So, The Butterfly Tattoo should have been very much to my taste. You get a massive hint at the ending in the first line of the book, "Chris Marshall met the girl he was goin
Claire (Book Blog Bird)
This was an okay audiobook and Phillip Pullman is a skilled writer but his didn't have the breathtaking awesomeness of some of his other work. It's tightly plotted but the characters are only okay. The narrator is the same guy who narrates Doing It in Bolinda Audio. He has a slightly lecherous-sounding voice that I quite like (he can't do a northern accent for shit) but he spoke some of the dialogue differently to how I would have imagined it if I was reading it in a book.
Jayne Lamb
Jul 27, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wonder if PP is embarassed by this now? Having loved His Dark Materials I thought he might have done ok with some YA lit. Bad move, not only is it 'a modern day Romeo and Juliet' (it's the answering machine that screws up the message), the first line is great - if he was an unpublished teenager. Terrible, clunky plot that recycles cliche after cliche, teenage boy in love at first sight (oh please) and of course, all the men that meet Jenny want to have sex with her, because she's beautiful, sk ...more
Kindred Spirit
Nov 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been trying to get my hands on this book for ages and was finding it basically impossible to buy, so I ended up borrowing it from the library. And boy, am I glad I did!

This book is amazing. A bit sublte and understated, but at the same time really packing a punch. The characters were all very well done and easy to both relate to and sympathise with and it was really refreshing to see Pullman deal with a modern setting. I particuarly loved the exploration of morals and honour and truth and
Dec 21, 2007 rated it did not like it
I was all excited to discover there was a YA book by Pullman that I hadn't read, b/c of course I love his other books. Unfortunately, this one was a stinker; described as a "modern-day Shakespearean tragedy", it was really more of a "stupid young boy meets random young girl and somehow there are mobsters involved" story. Pullman never makes you feel for any of the characters, so when the melodramatic denouement finally occurs, I was just glad it was over. D.
Charmaine Greenan
Nearly a 4, but not quite. Enjoyable page turner with some interesting ideas.
Becky (Blogs of a Bookaholic)
Jan 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of old styled YA & coming of age stories. Age 13-15
You can check out my full review here:
An odd little book about adolescence and first loves with a few gangsters thrown in.
Well, this book was an experience, I can definitely say that. It had such an odd jumble of ideas within it that somehow didn’t quite work in cohesion with each other.
The Butterfly Tattoo was written three years before Pullman’s famous book, Northern Lights/The Golden Compass. While there are significant glimpses into his brilliant writ
Jo Woolfardis
May 16, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookshelf
Chris meets Jenny on a warm Oxford night and falls instantly in love, but he knows nothing about her and can't seem to find her again in the sleepy English city. His boss, meanwhile, had acquired a love nest and is employing Chris to do it up, little knowing that it's actually a hide away from some ruthless London gangsters...

Philip Pullman is a wonderful writer and His Dark Materials series is still one of my favourites, but this was a huge disappointment. It was written well, but the plot and
Laura J
May 11, 2010 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 28, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 17, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: y-a
Published three years before The Golden Compass, this short mystery/thriller takes a look at some of the same themes and elements that Pullman reworks to much stronger effect throughout the Dark Materials trilogy: Oxford, the uselessness of adults, lying, innocence and sin, the Garden motif...
Alas, there are no talking polar bears here, and quite frankly the novel really clunks along in places. Maybe Pullman wasn't trying as hard in this shorter book--parts of the novel feel just tossed off--or
Scarlette Thorn
I confess; I gave up. life's too short to read books you can't stand. The only reason I gave this 2 stars instead of 1 is the language, and because it's Philip Pullman, who has my deep respect for "His Dark Materials" which are some of my favourite books. When it comes to fantasy, Pullman has nailed it. But thriller? no. three-quarters of the way through and I still felt no liking for any of the characters, they were written as though we were looking at them in a fish tank, so you didn't feel an ...more
Yun Zhen
Nov 21, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was definitely not as spectacular as I expected it would be at the beginning, there were enough times I was more than willing to put down the book for good. But as all books, we can only judge it at the end. There were a lot of details, not unnecessary, that I didn't understand, perhaps out of context for me, what with mafias and armies and loads of made-up scenarios to make the story more fleshy and realistic. But it got quite thrilling towards the middle once you get a sense of how Pullman ...more
Kirsty Shark
Sep 05, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was pointless. The tagline made me want to read it - "Chris Marshall met the girl he was going to kill on a warm Oxford night in early June".

It was supposed to be a tragic story that explores the concepts of truth and trust, I think. It missed the mark for me. The writing was way too simplistic, it felt like a bad attempt to write for young people. The plot wasn't much better and I think it could have gone a lot darker and deeper into its themes.

Pullman's meant to be a really good wr
May 27, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
After not enjoying "His Dark Materials" that much I didn't have much hope for this one. But it was a nice - even though short - read.

"Chris Marshall met the girl he was going to kill on a warm Oxford night in early June" - the first sentence of the novel already tells you how it is all going to end. The only question is: How is he going to kill her? For me that was enough suspense for such a short book. I found myself wondering as I learned how they met eachother how he would play into her deat
I had never heard of The butterfly tattoo before, until a couple of weeks ago when we began reading it in english class, at school. I had no expectations, and didn’t know anything about it really, except that it was Philip Pullman - the author behind The golden compass - who had written it.

So, the book was good, but sadly, there isn’t more to it than that. I felt no kind of connections to the characters, and the whole book was just a retelling of the first sentence of it. Both the story and the
2.5 stars.

A thoroughly underwhelming novel from the much herelded author Philip Pullman, that in terms of magic draws closer to his The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ than the superb His Dark Materials trilogy.
Set in Oxford, it follows the story of teen Chris and his relationship with wayward Jenny, whilst he carries out a job for his boss with a shady past. It's easy to read and sometimes compelling, and the ending earns it an extra half star, but it's by no means a masterpiece, and fe
Sonja Isaacson
OK, not great. I had read a review by a girl who says she cries whenever she reads it. Sure, I've got a book or two like that, but this is SO not one of them. I'm also not sure how many would relate to it... though abused girls and boys of divorced parents need their own protagonists I suppose and not just Janice Dickinson and... well now I can't think of a famous guy with divorced parents. I'm sure there are a number of actors with such families though. Plus, the tattoo is only mentioned once w ...more
Mar 03, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, 2010-read
I'm pretty sure this was supposed to be two books, but for some reason Pullman decided to throw the love story and the crime thriller together into one book. The love story was moderately entertaining, but the crime drama consisted of LONG passages of the criminal telling various versions of his story - by the third time he started talking, I started skimming, because none of the stories was particularly interesting. Also, my copy of the book had a blurb on the back that gave away the ending, so ...more
This had all the building blocks of a tragedy, including the inexorable feeling that no matter what decisions the characters made, they were already trapped by fate into a tragic outcome. Still, some of those decisions did seem contrived. I also admit I was thrown by the sex scene. I thought it was a pretty good sex scene really, but I started reading what I thought was a standard YA novel, so I was just a little surprised.
I have to say when I read the back of the book I expected something completely different from the author. I guess it is probably my fault when the book didn't give me what I wanted.
It was still a pretty good book that didn't have a typical storyline. Unfortunately for me I felt that the book fell short of being a brilliant read as I usually feel Pullman's books are.
I guess the only thing that got me through the book was how Pullman writes and that is one thing that'll draw you in. :)
Apr 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, boys
The White Mercedes is a slowly unwinding suspense/mystery for young adults. While the plot holes and the brooding pace may frustrate some readers, it's a dark and bleak sort of noir novel that kept me very captivated up until the end. It reminded me very much of a Coen Brothers movie in its mood. Recommended for older teens (there are definitely some more mature parts to this book than one might expect) who prefer the dark and twisted to happily ever after.
Rianna (RiannaBlok)
A lot of people don't like this book. I wouldn't be that harsh. The book is easy to read and has a nice build up. Towards the end I was capable of guessing the plot, but the plot wasn't obvious from the beginning. All in all it was a pleasant read, but I wouldn't re-read it. (I have enough other books to read)
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Firstly, no it is not at all like His Dark Materials.

It's a quick read, well structured and with decent characters. It's suspenseful and fast paced. I felt it had the same sort of feel as a bbc crime drama, with a hint of the Romeo and Juliet brand of tragic romance.

Overall, I thought it was simple and effective, but it lacks any lasting impression.
Jacoline Maes
Mar 30, 2016 marked it as didn-t-finish  ·  review of another edition
I tried to read this book several times, but I never got through it. I loved Pullman's His dark materials, but unfortunately I couldn't find the magic I felt in those books in The butterfly tattoo. The writing style did nothing for me, while in his books about Lyra everything he described was so easy to imagine.
This book struck me, ultimately, as convoluted and just sort of ugly. Though I liked the main female character, and her story was at least somewhat engaging, the primary character was just kind of bland. I appreciate a novel that dares to have an unhappy ending, but this one felt more cynical than poignant.
Nov 06, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
It's definitely YA, and it's nowhere near as good as the Golden Compass, but it's not bad. It would have satisfied that part of me when I was 14 that enjoyed reading about people who are misunderstood or to whom bad things happen.

Jeff gave me this book, but I think he would understand if I gave it away. So, if you want it, let me know.
May 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
Compared to Pullman's other works, this novel is weak and lacked character depth. The characters didn't grow on me and I didn't feel much empathy for them during the sad moments. The plot didn't engage me and it felt rather flat. The climax of the story was predictable and I was disappointed by the lack of creativity with this story.
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In 1946, acclaimed author Philip Pullman was born in Norwich, England, into a Protestant family. Although his beloved grandfather was an Anglican priest, Pullman became an atheist in his teenage years. He graduated from Exeter College in Oxford with a degree in English, and spent 23 years as a teacher while working on publishing 13 books and numerous short stories. Pullman has received many awards ...more
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