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2.8 197
by Tim Davys

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What does it mean to be bad?

Eric Bear has it all: a successful career, a beautiful wife, a blissful home. He knows he's been lucky; a while back, his life revolved around drugs, gambling, a gang of stuffed-animal thugs, and notorious crime boss Nicholas Dove.

But the past isn't as far away as Eric had hoped. Rumors are swirling that Dove is on the Death


What does it mean to be bad?

Eric Bear has it all: a successful career, a beautiful wife, a blissful home. He knows he's been lucky; a while back, his life revolved around drugs, gambling, a gang of stuffed-animal thugs, and notorious crime boss Nicholas Dove.

But the past isn't as far away as Eric had hoped. Rumors are swirling that Dove is on the Death List and that he wants Eric to save him. If Eric fails to act, his beloved wife, Emma Rabbit, will be torn apart, limb from limb, and reduced to stuffing.

With a nod to the best of noir and the wisest of allegories—interlaced with greed and gangsters—Amberville depicts an alternate world that mirrors our own realities and moral concerns, and reminds us of the inextricable link between good and evil.

Editorial Reviews

Brad Meltzer
“When you’re tired of run-of-the-mill fiction, it’s time to read AMBERVILLE. These are stuffed animals like you’ve never seen: deep, dark, and, somehow, utterly believable. Lucky us—a mystery that’s completely original.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“A delightful mystery-thriller set in a city populated by stuffed animals. [It] is dastardly fun to read.…Once the “whoa - this is weird” reaction subsides, ‘Amberville’ is a nifty rollick that’s as bracing as a good shot of whisky.”
Los Angeles Times
“[An] audacious concept . . . [a] giddy thrill.”
“[A] delightful debut…. No character in Amberville is quite what he or she seems, and each offers a meditation on truth, power, the value of goodness, and the nature of evil.”
Chicago Sun-Times
“Amberville has some bite to it. . . . True identities constantly shift in this world—lovers might be enemies, priests can be evil, and stuffed animals, given the depth and intellect that Davys gives them, may as well be human.”
Claudia Deane
There's more than stuffing here, though, including questions of good vs. evil, life vs. death, and sanity vs. insanity. Skip that evening Scotch and read this one stone-cold sober—it's plenty trippy as is.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Those with an appetite for the bizarre will best appreciate the pseudonymous Davys's offbeat debut, set entirely in a town inhabited by living, breathing stuffed animals. Everyone in Mollisan Town fears the Death List, the legendary roster of residents designated for pickup by the Chauffeurs, from whose red pickup truck no one returns. When word that mob boss Nicholas Dove (yes, a stuffed bird) has been placed on the list, he coerces Eric Bear into helping him escape his fate. Bear, who's put his shady past behind him and turned to a career in advertising, goes in search of answers. The backbiting and betrayal would certainly be at home in a conventional hard-boiled crime novel, but some readers may feel the premise's novelty wears thin after a while. Passages of clunky translation don't help ("From being a suspect rat who through her mere presence transformed the individuals around the conference table to normalcy, here she was in her right element"). (Feb. 24)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Davys's first novel is set in a town made up entirely of stuffed animals that walk and talk like humans. This clever idea soon loses its luster, as Davys does little with the potential except in a few instances to play it entirely for laughs, as when a teddy bear is beaten until he coughs up cotton. The plot revolves around Eric Bear's quest to save his wife's life by removing the gangster boss from the infamous "death list." Thus begins Eric's descent into the underworlds of Mollisan Town, a shadowy neighborhood on a trash dump where the deformed animals live, and finally to the puppet master himself, in the least likely place of all. The prose and dialog lack the style and wit of true hard-boiled writers, and at times the narrative falls into long, flat exposition. The second half of the novel is more engaging as the characters' duplicity increases. But the ending is implausible, tacked on in an epilog to make sense of the earlier gaps in logic. Not recommended.
—Stephen Morrow

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
P.S. Series
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt


Chapter One

Early one morning at the end of April there was pounding on the door to Eric Bear and Emma Rabbit's apartment on brick-red Uxbridge Street. The morning rain had let up, the wind had died down, and the sun was shining anew over Mollisan Town.

"Shut up and stop pounding," mumbled Eric Bear to himself, pulling the blanket over his head.

But the blanket was too thin; the pounding on the door echoed painfully inside the bear's head.

It was impossible to fall back asleep.

Yesterday had turned into a late and wet one. It had been the kind of evening when each and every stuffed animal seemed to have decided to go out. The restaurants up in Lanceheim were packed; along bright-violet Pfaffen-dorfer Tor the animals were thronging all the way from the Concert Hall, and the crowding at the bars along mustard-yellow Krünkenhagen was worse than on North Avenue during rush hour. Mammals and reptiles, fish and fowl, imaginary animals and even the occasional insect: all kinds of stuffed animals crowded into Lanceheim.

"Follow me!" Eric cried out when the animals on the sidewalk threatened to divide the group.

There had been five of them. Wolle Toad, Nicholas Cat, and a project leader from the advertising agency Wolle & Wolle whose name Eric didn't know.

But it was Philip Baboon who walked at Eric's side. This evening Baboon was the object of everyone's attention. He represented the shoe company Dot. They had been searching for a new advertising agency for several months, and Wolle & Wolle were on their way to winning the pitch. Now only that last little push was required.

Eric Bear was ready to push.

Eric set his sights on a restaurant which was not too far away. From a distance he saw the neon sign's bold yellow letters which read: "Parrot's Bar & Grill."

"Parrot's," said Eric to Philip Baboon. "Never had a boring moment there."

In fact, Eric Bear had never even heard of the place, and he would most likely never be able to find it again. But the cursive neon letters reminded him of the Art Deco of his childhood, and anyway, up here one restaurant was pretty much like any other.

"Just so there aren't any decadent females at Parrot's," Baboon said, giggling nervously. "I haven't been out in almost twenty years, I don't want to run into any... voluptuaries... the first thing I do."

Philip Baboon was wearing a gray suit, a white shirt, and a dark-blue tie.

Over dinner he had related that his greatest interests were balance sheets, rates of turnover, and the snails he collected on the beach in Hillevie. Baboon still had his briefcase in hand as he walked beside Eric Bear. He would carry it the entire evening, as if it were a life buoy.

It was obvious to everyone that Philip Baboon wanted nothing more than to meet decadent females.

"Voluptuaries?" laughed Eric Bear. "I'm sure there might well be that sort at Parrot's, unfortunately."

Philip Baboon shivered with expectation.

A new series of brutal poundings was heard from the outside door.

Why don't they ring the doorbell, like normal stuffed animals?

Eric Bear turned over in bed. Under the blanket he could smell his own breath. Gin martinis and vodka. Stale gin martinis and vodka. Had he been smoking yesterday? It felt like it on his tongue.

When they'd left Parrot's Bar & Grill—because there hadn't been any females who were sufficiently decadent for Baboon's taste there—they were all thoroughly intoxicated. They ended up at a jazz club. A dark, cellar space which couldn't possibly be in Lanceheim, but rather up in Tourquai.

"I know that we shouldn't talk shop," said Eric Bear.

He had a hard time talking without slurring. He and Baboon were sitting across from each other at a small, round table in a corner of the place. Eric sat on a chair, Baboon was reclining on a hard bench next to the wall. A saxophone was screeching from the stage and maybe someone was sitting on Baboon's lap? It was so dark, it was hard to be sure.

"I know that we shouldn't talk shop, but we're the only ones left, aren't we? You've decided on Wolle and Wolle?"

"On Tuesday," said Baboon.

At least Eric thought that's how he replied.


"But we demand a ceiling," said Baboon.

Or else he said something else. On the stage the saxophone had been joined by a trumpet, and it was impossible to hear what anyone said.

"Is that a panda sitting on your lap, Baboon?" asked Wolle Toad.

Bear didn't know where the toad had appeared from. But Baboon had been found out, and he rose from the bench. The following moment he fell down backwards again. With the panda on top of him.

"I have never touched any panda!" he shouted.

Then Eric knew that Wolle & Wolle would have Dot as a new account.

"I'm coming!"

Eric threw off the blanket and sat up in bed. The bedroom was swaying. The noise from the door was getting louder.

He had a vague recollection that Emma had left the house almost an hour earlier. She rented a studio in the south end of Amberville, down toward Swarwick Park. There she worked as long as the sun was standing in the east, and she liked to get going early in the morning. Eric was slower. More precise, he said.

More vain, she said.

The bear stood up and pulled on the underwear and shirt that were lying on the floor beside the bed. Those were the clothes he'd had on yesterday. They stank of sweat, smoke, and stale booze. With a sigh he went slowly out through the dining room.

The blinds had been drawn in the bedroom, but the sun was sparkling happily from a blue sky through the windows in the living room. The nostrils of Eric's cloth nose expanded and unconsciously his small, round ears moved forward. He dared not even guess who might be at the door; they seldom had uninvited guests. He furrowed his cross-stitched eyebrows and reached for his aching head. At the same time there was an amused curiosity in his small, black-button eyes.

Amberville. Copyright © by Tim Davys. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.


What People are Saying About This

Brad Meltzer
“When you’re tired of run-of-the-mill fiction, it’s time to read AMBERVILLE. These are stuffed animals like you’ve never seen: deep, dark, and, somehow, utterly believable. Lucky us—a mystery that’s completely original.”

Meet the Author

Tim Davys is a pseudonym. He is the author of Amberville, Lanceheim, and Tourquai, the first three books in the Mollisan Town quartet. He lives in Sweden.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Amberville 2.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 197 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a strange story which is frequently incoherent. The author keeps introducing new characters, and new concepts that do not fit, and keeps jumping back and forth in time. The plot is very confusing and inconsistent. The swearing is annoying and does not enhance the story. The prose is clumsy. I disagree with the author’s remarks about faith - faith and religion are two different things. He seems to be lecturing but without a point; I detect an obsession with his own inner thoughts (which just confuse the plot more).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book and its very interesting but not a kids book but once you start reading u cant stop!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The concept of everyone being stuffed animals is pretty cool, but the the author tends to go into too great of detail on something unimportant often. I would recommend to regular readers, but there's nothing special to see here. Could have been better with better plot development. Average. Would recommend on gimmick alone...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am not afraid to read out of my comfort zone. I like all kinds of books all kinds of genre's etc. But for the life of me I could not get into this book. I tried for a solid week but couldnt get past the characters. I kept getting a mental picture of an evil winnie the pooh. It was a very strange experience for me...one I would rather not repeat. I am sorry I could not finish this book.
Meli_Green More than 1 year ago
I got Amberville as a free-Friday selection on my nook. The description alone had my attention, stuffed animals in a gritty story of crime, conspiracy, corruption and redemption. Sounds good. The story is told from multiple points of view, so the reader is constantly changing voices. . In truth, the entire book reads as a series of character studies, or at best a set of interconnected short stories that have been crammed together into a single volume. Nothing ever quite gels, as threads in the story peter out and lead to nowhere, characters are introduced and then forgotten, or dark hints are made that never really resolve into anything juicy enough to sustain our interest. There are a good deal of characters, some that are introduced then never seen from again. There were many pages in the middle that felt less like pleasure reading, more like work. Plus the ending is a huge let down, or at least it was for me and I just wanted to throw the book at the end. While I was happy I finally finished I just wished I had gotten an ending. The idea of stuffed animals in a detective mystery novel begs for plenty of sarcastic tongue-in-cheek humor, but Amberville avoids silly humor and instead relies on the subtle absurdities, to deliver the humor on their own, which they never really manage to do. I was interested by this book, but not entertained.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow!! What can you really say? It is shades of living through the later 60’s and 70’s when our brains were relaxed by, well if you were there, you know. If this story were about humans it would still be worth reading. It touched on so many subjects that we are all still trying to figure out (love, hate, religion, parent issues, gay issues, betrayal). The twist is to do the figuring out using stuffed toys as the characters. I think the author is having a bit of a laugh at the human race and trying to remind us that maybe we should loosen up a little. So, if you can relax you brain a bit this is a good read. I was puzzled, confused and amazed but most of all I haven’t forgotten this book and isn’t that what recreational reading is all about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read whole thing because i will read almost anything. Two stars for creativity but the overall story is bizarre.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everyone was once a kid playing with dolls, stuffed animals,or action figures. We used to pretend they were people getting married or fighting bad guys. Amberville is a throwback to those childhood days when your teddy bear was the greatest person you knew. Follow Eric Bear as he gets his old crew back together for one last mob job. This book is intended for adults. Do not let your children read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the whole book.
ElizabethSR More than 1 year ago
It is most unfair to both the reader and the author to rate this book because you do not like the reviewer or the genre or Free Friday's choices. I don't care for some of the reviewers either. And one wrote that he was giving it a one even though he hadn't read it yet. If you must make a statement at least give it a three! After all, Free is Free. Don't punch a gift horse in the mouth. If you don't like fantasy, don't read this book. Personally I'm tired of sword and sorcery, telepathy, vampires and zombies. I thought this was a refreshing story, both humorous and dark. It's not a literary masterpiece, so what? It was enjoyable and thought provoking. It's not just a fluff piece. I adored the characters, flaws and all. It's also a good mystery and a good find.
Mocker More than 1 year ago
Honestly, probably four stars but I find it moronic that this book got numerous one star reviews because it wasn't a good enough Free Friday selection. Apparently I didn't watch enough Winnie the Pooh to have every anthropomorphic teddy bear turn into him in my mind. Or perhaps I didn't just read a couple pages and give up. I thought his was an interesting twist on the noire genre and enjoyed the book.
ReggieMarkhamAbleThorp More than 1 year ago
Eric Bear is a modern day Sam Spade. The writting made me forget the characters where stuffed animals. I'm looking forward to buying and reading more from Mr. Davy
varbalow More than 1 year ago
I'll definitely read the next book in this "series". Noir about stuffed animals - love it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I started this book I was like, "What?????" I almost put it down after realizing it was about stuffed animals, but curiosity kept e going and I am glad. The story was interesting, the writing was great, and whenever I'd forget I was reading about dolls, something would remind me and I'd laugh to myself. Great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have to say that if I didn't get the book as a "free Friday" book, I would never have considered purchasing it. But I actually found myself getting hooked and enjoyed it. At first I wondered why the author would make the characters in the book stuffed animals, but having finished the book, I can see why now. This is not a cute story, but rather interesting and thought-provoking.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Massive let down of an ending. Sorry armed to simply run out of steam
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pedigreedmutt More than 1 year ago
i really enjoyed reading this. must confess i didn't think it would be interesting but it was. Very original and thoughtful. Have an open mind about the characters being stuffed animals. Maybe we are all just stuffed animals anyway.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book!