Amberville

( 193 )

Overview

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 ...

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Amberville

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Overview

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.

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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.”
BookForum
“[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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061625138
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/23/2010
  • Series: P.S. Series
  • Pages: 343
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

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.

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Read an Excerpt

Amberville

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.

"Tuesday?"

"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.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 193 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(32)

4 Star

(42)

3 Star

(36)

2 Star

(26)

1 Star

(57)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 193 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 17, 2012

    PLEASE

    DONT REVIEW A BOOK AND GIVE IT ONE STAR JUST BECAUSE YOU DON'T LIKE THIS BOOK OF CHOICE AS A FREE FRIDAY- ITS NOT FAIR TO THE AUTHOR!!!!

    18 out of 43 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2012

    Weird. Incoherent. Uninteresting.

    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).

    16 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2012

    Review Rants

    I for one greatly enjoy Harriet Klausner's reviews. She does NOT give away plot points but instead gives a succinct overview, reveals no twists or surprises and writes in a literate style (she can also spell, unlike most of her critics).
    I have purchased many books based on her skills as a reviewer and have yet to be sorry. Keep up the good work!
    Mike in OC

    10 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2012

    Amberville

    This is a great book and its very interesting but not a kids book but once you start reading u cant stop!!!!

    10 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2012

    Interesting...

    It's very imaginative!

    10 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 18, 2012

    It is most unfair to both the reader and the author to rate this

    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.

    8 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2012

    Anonymous

    This book was pure nonsense, it could be a good book for kids minus the violence. As for Harriet Klausner, I think she enjoys being irratating. DON'T read her previews, just read the real reviews written by intellent people who know how to write a review.

    7 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2012

    Ugh

    Good thing it was free

    5 out of 35 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 21, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting but no so entertaining

    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.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2012

    Imaginative...but a bit wordy.

    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...

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2012

    Really!!!!

    Could you please have a free Friday that is worth my time.
    Most of your nook books are so expensive....ay least give us a decent free book now and then.

    4 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2012

    Not enough Winnie, the Pooh?

    Give us a break... Grow up and write like a man or regress to the point you are writing stories for actual children.
    Nauseating drivel due to the failed characterizations... Don't give up your real job...

    4 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2012

    ugh

    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.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2012

    sounds good/ to gay

    It doesn't make sense to call a book gay because they don't have sex. Maybe you are gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that. This book sounds good. I'm glad I happened to look on my nook today. Since it's my birthday, it's like a present!

    3 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2012

    Summery/review

    Its good to have both a review and summery as long as the summery doesnt give away the book. I come to the review section a lot to look for a summery when i dont understand the discription of the book. I think this book has an interesting plot.

    3 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2012

    weird

    Read whole thing because i will read almost anything. Two stars for creativity but the overall story is bizarre.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2012

    Weird stuffed animals. Surprizingly funny.

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2012

    I liked the uniqueness

    Enjoyed the whole book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2012

    The free Fridays books are overpriced

    Seriously, how are these books chosen? I realize people have varied tastes, but these have become consistently awful choices. And the majority of the books are full of gratuitous graphic violence. Ick!

    2 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 13, 2013

    more from this reviewer

       Beware of gifts being offered by trusted sources; the receivi

       Beware of gifts being offered by trusted sources; the receiving thereof can lead to the reading of a well-crafted, perception altering, mystery novel set in one of the most bizarre concepts imaginable.  Tim Davys, a pseudonym wisely chosen as it adds to the dis-reality of the story, sees a world inhabited by stuffed animals as a fitting place to offer commentary on THE questions of life: from where do we come?  What happens next (after death)? Do we have choice in those decisions? At no point in the book is there the mention, or the possibility of, the existence of beings other than “stuffed animals.”  The reader who suspends belief of this premise quickly will be better able to “see” the story instead of being confused by it.
       The story is told from the first person perspective of Eric Bear, a twin (of Teddy). Their parents, Rhinoceros Edda, wonderful cook & head of The Environmental Ministry and Boxer Bloom, the stern, honest, “right-or-wrong world view” rector of Amberville Secondary Grammar School adopted them, as are all in this world, as cubs.  The brothers could be less identical, apart from appearance where there is no telling of the difference.  Teddy’s life ambition is “to be a good bear,” Eric’s life is filled with compromise and shady characters.  The shadiest of those characters, Nicholas Dove, has discovered his name is on this month’s “death list” and has assigned Eric the duty of seeing that The Dove’s name is removed.  If he does not succeed in this task, his beloved Emma Rabbit will likewise be taken.
       The ensuing detective work is nothing new – clues discovered, some leads are dead ends, surveillance becomes mundane, the culprit discovered, resolution achieved.  The story’s energy arises from the truth revealed as these stuffed animals “live out” their existence. Teddy is clear that love, both in the giving & receiving, is pure only when it is free of demands, “Almost nothing is more difficult than keeping the longing for love free from demands.  It is a struggle.” p. 41.  To hear two inanimate objects speak the existential truth, “A myth can only survive for two reasons, either because those who are in control from some reason want the myth to survive.  Or because . . . . Because it is true.” p. 57 is a moment when the careful reader will be stunned into contemplation.  Such observations and dialogue reveal this novel to be an allegory of human existence.  It is not flesh and blood that gives one life.  Neither is it position of employ or family. Rather life is to be found in relationships, relationships are valued according to what one is “paying” to be a part of it and one’s living can be measured by the “wealth” of return from what has been “given.”  By the book’s conclusion, as with all good allegories, the wealthy are revealed and the truly poor exposed for who they are.
       There is much violence, most of it implied, in this book.  (Any male who had (or has) a stuffed animal knows how tough those animals actually are.)  There is no sex, nor allusion of sex, in the tale.  (It is a book about STUFFED ANIMALS and the thought of sex between them is just SICK!) The landscape is imaginary but as familiar as last night’s dream.
        I doubt I will ever discover Tim Davys true identity, but I would very much like to do so.  I want to talk with him about the animals that populated this childhood bedroom.  I suspect we shared, at least genetically, some of those friends.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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