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Death of an Ordinary Man

de Glen Duncan

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
3151063,042 (3.34)50
Nathan's gravestone offers a short and hopeful summary: At rest. But Nathan is not at rest, and knows he won't be until he can find out how and why he died. son, daughter, father and best friend, getting to know them like he has never known them before. But there are two things he can't understand: a strange young couple on the fringes of the wake, whose presence fills him with dread; and a room in his house he never knew existed, with a door he feels compelled to open. A door that he knows will lead to a terrifying secret.… (més)
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This novel is set over the course of one day, and it starts with Nathan Clark being a witness at his own funeral. His wife, father, children and best friend are all there, along with two people who he can’t identify. Unable to remember how he died, and unable to rest until he can remember, Nathan watches his family from some kind of afterlife, and remembers fragments of their life together while he tries to piece together exactly what has happened to him.

I loved the premise of this book, but I think I was expecting it to be more of a mystery or psychological thriller than it actually was. Instead it’s more of a slow burner – the first part in particular is very fragmented with Nathan being thrown from one scene or memory into another. Sentences end halfway through to reflect half remembered scenes from Nathan’s life, and suddenly he is flung to another time, another place.

There is no doubt that the writing is very elegant, and occasionally exquisite. I loved the idea behind the novel, but somehow despite this I never quite became enthralled by it. I was interested enough to keep reading, and like Nathan, I wanted to find out how he died but in the end, that wasn’t really the point. We find out early on that his youngest daughter Lois died some time before, and although initially Nathan can’t remember how she died, the answer to this particular question is revealed – and that’s when pennies drop and things start falling into place.

I did find this book an easy read despite the heavy subject matter, but I never quite managed to connect with any of the characters. Nathan’s wife Cheryl may have been the love of his life, but for my money she was downright unlikeable – same goes for his best friend Adrian, and his father Frank. I did quite like his two children Gina and Luke, but I never felt that we really got to know them well enough – especially not Luke, who is relegated to something of a background character.

Overall though, while I can’t give this book a definite thumbs up, it’s also not a thumbs down. I would be intrigued to read more by this author. ( )
  Ruth72 | Jul 22, 2018 |
Death of an Ordinary Man is the story of Nathan who finds himself present at his own funeral. He has to work out what has happened to him and why his daughter Lois isn’t there. What follows entails Nathan ‘lurking’ with his family members in the 24hrs following the funeral. He gets to hear their innermost thoughts and share the flashback memories they are experiencing. He has his own flashbacks as well. Through these shared memories and flashbacks he tries to piece together what has happened to his youngest daughter and how he ended up dead.

I have to admit that I really didn’t like any of the characters in this book which makes it hard to like the book itself. Nathan is a weak ‘yes’ man. His wife Cheryl is a self-absorbed woman, their daughter Gina is much like her mother. Luke, their son, has the potential to be a decent young man but then the author wrecks that by suggesting something really unnecessary. There was a significant focus on sex, not love scenes so much as thoughts of sex in various forms plus swearing that seemed over the top. So I read something out of my usual comfort zone but I can't say that I relished the experience. ( )
  Roro8 | Mar 24, 2015 |
Nathan Clark is dead. We know this because we're with him as he watches his family at his funeral. His father, his wife and two surviving kids, his best friend as well as a couple of other people he doesn't recognise and who inspire in him a feeling of utter dread if he gets too close. Nathan doesn't remember how he died and wonders if these two people had anything to do with it. Not, as his gravestone suggests, at rest will Nathan be able to find the cause of his own death and that of his youngest daughter which also seems to be eluding him from the thoughts and feelings of those he's left behind and finally find peace?

We follow Nathan as he picks out the thoughts and sensations that provide triggers to his memories that help him fill in the blanks. The relationships Nathan had with his family and friends are examined intimately and how when tragedy strikes it causes such upheaval in everything they do and makes the reader think how they would cope in such circumstances. As I've come to expect from the author the writing is superb and the pacing of the book exquisite. From the early confused tones to the almost unbearable heart-wrenching scenes of discovery that Nathan goes through this is another excellent entry in the body of work I'm discovering from Mr. Duncan. I've just ordered another couple as I do want to read more and probably eventually all of them. ( )
4 vota AHS-Wolfy | Nov 28, 2011 |
In spite of himself Nathan came out of suspension with a mixture of voyeuristic guilt and pride in her courage. This was beauty. He forgot everything else, even the pills on the desk. This was his daughter, in full flight. She was so like Cheryl, the way Cheryl used to be, the curiosity that wrecked and elevated her.

The story takes place on the day of Nathan's funeral. He finds himself drifting through the house, avoiding the lure of a room with a door and a white bed. which seem to be offering him the choice between sleep and going on somewhere else. As he watches the people at his wake he finds that he can read their thoughts and that getting to close to certain people and objects, catapults him back into memories of his opts or the past of his family or friends.

Nathan always thought of his wife Cheryl as being much more alive than him, but she is a cold and distant presence in the book, who never seems as real as their children Luke and Gina. Nathan remembers their youngest child who died a few years before, but he can't remember how she died, or for that matter, how he himself died.

In some ways this book reminded me of the film "The Swimmer", since to start with everything seems normal (apart from Nathan being dead, obviously), but as he relives earlier events and begins to remember, his life seems to disintegrate. ( )
  isabelx | Sep 23, 2011 |
This was really hard to get into, but I'm glad I'd stuck with it. So beautiful and sad. One of the rare books that actually made me cry. Definitely something I'll read again someday. ( )
  reakendera | Aug 7, 2011 |
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Nathan's gravestone offers a short and hopeful summary: At rest. But Nathan is not at rest, and knows he won't be until he can find out how and why he died. son, daughter, father and best friend, getting to know them like he has never known them before. But there are two things he can't understand: a strange young couple on the fringes of the wake, whose presence fills him with dread; and a room in his house he never knew existed, with a door he feels compelled to open. A door that he knows will lead to a terrifying secret.

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