aPriL does feral sometimes 's Reviews > Mr. Shivers

Mr. Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett
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I really liked Mr. Shivers. He was really quite ideologically pure. He is not a corrupt man. On the other hand, the people he enlists in this novel to help him are all corrupt and evil, enjoying the taking of life through torture, greed and the use of personal authority for private gain. Mr. Shivers simply kills. I really liked the eponymous book, too.

Many Goodreads members do not share my opinion about this novel or about the Mr. Shivers character. I admit I have always been, well, a little off-center (quite left-leaning, actually), and I might be worse lately. Death has been as real to me as something alive and as capricious as a wild creature for some time (I live in a senior park - nine of my cul-de-sac's near-neighbors have died so far in the ten years I've been here in all kinds of ways. My husband survived a life-threatening illness which required an induced coma of two months a few years ago as well).

Death is definitely a shivery and an awful business. But Mr. Shivers is more palatable to me than most of the evil human characters in Robert Jackson Bennett's book. Not only is Mr. Shivers true to his values, one knows where one stands with him. His nature is as consistent as Time. To replace him, gentle reader, it would take another of idealogical purity. There aren't too many individuals with this kind of personal strength of belief or character. One must burn away everything unessential to the purpose.(view spoiler)

I did not think this was a horror genre novel. To me, it was a literary magical-realism read. I suppose the fact I am classifying this novel as such shouts that I march with an off-beat rhythm. What can you expect from a retired ex-secretary with a home-schooled Literature education?


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I even have a tattoo (dragon), which was not acceptable for secretaries on two levels (having a tat, and having a dragon tat) 40 years ago, so I've been like whatever I am long before I got old. You know now what you're dealing with. Proceed.

The main character Marcus Connelly has been silently traveling from one hobo-camp to another - walking, hitching rides, sneaking aboard trains. He is astonished by the numbers of similar dirty tramps on the roads, camping rough. He has been learning the harsh life of a hobo these last few weeks, not because he had no work as most people on the roads, but because he is hunting Death.

Previously an innocent small-town married father and husband who recently lost his young daughter to a particularly cruel murderer, called Mr. Shivers, Connelly has been seeing much that he did not know before. Surprisingly, there is more kindness and decency than he expected. People generally retain their empathy and small-town values even while struggling to survive. However, there are a few who see these impoverished masses as prey or scum, and they do not hesitate to react in fear, self-protection or predation. But the most amazing moment Connelly has is in meeting a group of hobos who are hunting the same man as himself. Mr. Shivers appears to have a strong appetite for blood and killing, in which he has been indulging for a long time. The other hobos' share their stories, so Connelly learns this raggedy man called Shivers loves to kill all kinds of people from all over the country, and for some reason, these new friends have all felt drawn into hunting down this peculiar murderer whatever the personal cost. Connelly himself has lost his marriage because of his obsession to track down Mr. Shivers.

As the hobo friends talk, they share what they have heard about Mr. Shivers. Besides the fact they all have become obsessed with the man despite their different strengths, weaknesses and backgrounds, they also discover Mr. Shivers is leaving behind him a trail of gossip and murders. He does not disguise himself. It also seems people do not forget meeting this odd frightening man if they survived the encounter. It also becomes clear they are very close to finding him. Meeting Mr. Shivers is a matter of only a few days of travel...

The novel takes place during the Depression. World War II will soon begin, which will kill at least 300,000 American soldiers alone. A total of 60-million people, estimated, will be killed because of the war, eventually, from countries all over the earth. I think every single one of them met death in a personal way.



It is interesting that Robert Jackson Bennett, the author, placed his book in this particular time and place (1930's - the time of the Great Depression). As many people of the world know (maybe not many Americans), WWII made America rich, and pulled our country out of poverty by the 1950's because of other nations' buying American armaments, along with other types of payments made to the USA, by defeated Axis countries and our WWII allies. (The other involved countries, such as Britain, were still struggling with widespread poverty until the mid-1970's.)

Despite the worldwide poverty of the Great Depression, though, death did NOT exactly stalk mass numbers of people!


Instead, Mr. Death usually seems to have a distinct personalized touch using mano a mano methods, which a number of authors have in their plots (for example Stephen King The Stand, John Connolly Every Dead Thing, to name a few). Only human beings appear to kill with mass-killing blood-thirst. Just saying.
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Reading Progress

June 5, 2016 – Started Reading
June 5, 2016 – Shelved
June 5, 2016 –
page 29
8.87% "Men search for a killer of families."
June 6, 2016 –
page 216
66.06% "Mr. Shivers reminds me of Randall Flagg from Stephen King's 'The Stand', which predates Mr. Shivers. There is also a resemblance to John Connolly's The Travelin' Man character in 'Every Dead Thing'. It seems to me this voodoo devil man inspired all three authors, who were all in Louisiana at some point, I think. What Cajun myth is behind this, if is a Louisiana fable? Not Baron Samedi or Papa Legba, I think. Anyone?"
June 7, 2016 – Shelved as: a-jack-in-the-box-pop-surprise
June 7, 2016 – Shelved as: awesomely-horrifying-loved-it
June 7, 2016 – Shelved as: don-t-judge-me
June 7, 2016 – Shelved as: fantasy
June 7, 2016 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
June 7, 2016 – Shelved as: literary
June 7, 2016 – Finished Reading

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