When Shaw McBride and Romeo Zderko pull up at a convenience store off I-95 in Georgia, their only thought is to fix a leaky tire and be on their way again to Florida-away from their dull Ohio tech-support jobs. But this happens to be the store from which a 318,000,000 million dollar Jackpot ticket has just been sold -- and when a pretty clerk accidentally reveals to Shaw the identity of the winning family, he hatches a ferociously audacious scheme: He and Romeo will squeeze the family for half their prize.
That night, he visits the Boatwright home and takes the family hostage, while Romeo patrols the streets nearby, prepared to murder the Boatwrights' loved ones at any sign of resistance. At first, the family offers none. But Shaw's plot depends on maintaining constant fear-merciless, unfaltering terror-and soon, under the pressure, everyone's sanity begins to unravel . . .
At once frightening, comic, and suspenseful, RAVENS is a wholly original and utterly compelling novel from one of our most talented writers.
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About the Author
George Dawes Green is a highly acclaimed novelist and poet. He currently divides his time between Georgia and New York.
Read an Excerpt
By Green, George Dawes
Grand Central PublishingCopyright © 2010 Green, George Dawes
All right reserved.
Romeo was driving down from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the baffling twilight, going too fast, when a raccoon or possum ran in front of the car. The impact was disturbingly gentle. No thud—just a soft unzipping, beneath the chassis. Still, it tore at Romeo’s heart. He braked and pulled over.
Shaw awoke. “What’s wrong?”
“Hit something,” said Romeo, and he got out and started walking back up I-77, hunting for the carcass. Shaw followed him. A tractor-trailer bore down on them with a shudder and the long plunging chord of its passing. Then the night got quiet. They could hear their own footsteps. Cicadas, and a sliver of far-off honkytonk music. “God,” said Shaw. “This is it. We’re really in the South.”
But they found no trace of the animal.
They walked quite a ways. They waited for headlights so they could scan up and down the highway. They backtracked and searched along the shoulder. Nothing—not so much as a bloodstain. Finally Romeo just stood there, watching the fireflies rise and fall.
“Hey,” said Shaw, “I bet your friend got lucky.”
“Uh-uh. I hit it.”
“Well maybe it was like a sacrifice.” Playfulness in Shaw’s tone. “Maybe it just wanted us to have a propitious journey.”
When they got back to the Tercel Shaw said he was wide awake and could he drive? That was fine with Romeo. He got in on the passenger side, and they descended into the North Carolina piedmont. His ears popped; the air grew humid. He tilted his seat all the way back and looked up at the moon as it shredded in the pines. Somewhere after Elkin, NC, he let his eyes slip shut for just a second—and then the highway started to curve beneath him, and he felt himself spiraling slowly downward, into a bottomless slumber.
Tara kept away from the house on Wednesday nights.
Wednesday nights were jackpot nights. Mom would start drinking early. Pour herself a g&t in a lowball glass; then fan out all her lottery tickets on the coffee table and gaze lovingly at them, and touch them one by one and wonder which was going to be the one. The TV would be on but Mom would disregard it. All her thoughts on the good life to come. Yachts, spas in Arizona, blazing white villages in Greece, the unquenchable envy of her friends. She’d finish her first drink and fix herself another. Her boy Jase—Tara’s little brother—would put his head in her lap while he played with his Micro. She’d tousle his hair. She’d swirl the ice in her drink. At some point the colors of the dying day, and the TV colors, and all the colors of her life, would begin to seem extra-vivid, even gorgeous, and she’d tell herself she was the blessedest woman in the world, and pick up her cell phone and text her daughter:
I know we win tonite!!
I need u!! Tara baby!! My good luck charm!! Where are u? Come home!!
They were siren calls though, Tara knew. She had to be deaf to them. Study late at the library, catch a movie, hang out with Clio at the mall—just keep clear of the house till the jackpot was done and Dad would come home to take the brunt of Mom’s drunken post-drawing tirade. By midnight Mom would have worn herself out with rage and grief, and she’d have passed out, and the coast would be clear.
But on this particular Wednesday, Tara had made a blunder. She’d left her botany textbook, with all the handouts, in her bedroom. She’d done this in the morning but she didn’t realize it till 7:00 p.m., after her organic chemistry class, when she checked her locker and saw that the book wasn’t there.
She had a quiz tomorrow. She hadn’t even looked at that stuff.
She thought of calling Dad. Maybe he could sneak the book out to her. But no, it was too late. He’d be on his way to church by now, his Lions of Judah meeting. Maybe Jase? No, Jase would tip Mom off; Jase was in Mom’s pocket.
No. What I have to do, Tara thought, is just go back there and be really docile and don’t let Mom draw me into a fight, whatever she says don’t fight back—and first chance I get I’ll slip away to my room before the drawing, before she blows up.
Tara went to the parking lot and got in her battered Geo, and left the campus of the Coastal Georgia Community College. Fourth Street to Robin Road to Redwood Road: streets she despised. She hated their dull names and their blank lawns and their rows of squat brick ranch houses. Hers was the squattest and brickest of all, on a street called Oriole Road. When she got there, she slowed the car to a crawl, and looked in through the living room window. Mom, the TV. The painting of Don Quixote tilting at windmills. The wooden shelf of Dad’s # 3 Chevy models, and Mom’s Hummels. Jase’s feet stuck out at the end of the couch. Everything that Tara despised about her home was glowing and warm-looking like an advertisement for low mortgage rates or pest control, and such a depressing show she had to call Clio and tell her about it.
“I’m spying on my own house.”
Said Clio, “That’s kind of perverted.”
“It’s a really ugly house.”
“I can see my brother’s little marinated pigs’ feet.”
“But I have to see how drunk Mom is.”
“How drunk is she?”
“That’s the problem, I can’t tell. I can’t see her hands. I have to see how she’s holding her glass. If she’s swirling her glass with her pinky out, then I’m already in deep shit.”
“Are you going in there?”
“I have to.”
“But isn’t this your Mom’s freak-out night?”
“So what are you doing there? Come over to Headquarters. You know who’s coming? That Kings of Unsnap guy. Jonah. The one who wants to do you.”
“You told me that, Clio.”
“So come let him do you.”
“I got a botany quiz in the morning.”
“Oh God. You’re such a boring geek.”
“Why don’t you do him?”
“OK,” said Clio. “You talked me into it.”
“You’re such a whoring slut.”
“I know. Hey I gotta go. If your Mom does something interesting, like touching your little brother’s weewee or something, let me know.”
“I’ll send you the pics,” said Tara. “You can post them.” She hung up, and sighed, and pulled into the carport.
As soon as she stepped into the living room, Mom was at her: “Where were you?” Tara consulted the lowball glass and saw that the swirling was quick and syncopated, with the pinky fully extended, which presaged a grim night.
“I was in class.”
“You should call me when you’re gonna be this late.”
Not late, Tara thought, but drop it.
Mom kept pressing. “Which class was it?”
“Um. Organic chemistry.”
“Why you taking that?”
Leave it alone. The only goal is freedom. “I don’t know, I guess it’s some kind of a requirement.”
“But if you’re only gonna be a goddamn whatever—why do they make you take organic chemistry?”
Said Mom, “They want all our money and what they teach you is worthless.”
Hard to let that pass. Inasmuch as Mom contributed not a cent to her tuition—inasmuch as every penny came from Tara’s job at the bank plus help from her grandmother Nell plus a small scholarship, and all she got from her parents was room and board for which she paid $450 a month so that wasn’t a gift either—it was a struggle not to snap back at her. But what good would that do? Remember, all you want is to get to your room. Remember, this woman is the same birdnecked alien you were just watching through the living room window a moment ago. Pretend there’s no family connection, that you’re invisible and you can slip away unnoticed at any time—
“Wait. Sit for a minute. The drawing’s coming up.”
“Got a quiz tomorrow, Mom. So I should probably—”
“You know what it’s worth this time?”
Tara shook her head.
“You’re kidding me,” said Mom. “You really don’t know?”
“I really don’t.”
“Three hundred and eighteen million dollars.”
The sum touched Tara’s life in no meaningful way, but she thought if she showed sufficient awe maybe Mom would release her.
“Though if you take the lump sum,” said Mom, “then after you pay your taxes, you’d only have a hundred some million.”
“Like a hundred twenty-odd. Hardly worth bothering, right? You mind freshening this for me? So I won’t disturb the Little Prince here?”
Mom swirled her glass.
On the TV was Nip/Tuck, which wasn’t appropriate for ten-year-old Jase but then he wasn’t watching it anyway. He was playing Revenant on his Micro. Oblivious as ever—and Tara was happy to ignore him back. She carried Mom’s glass to the kitchen, filled it with ice and Bombay and tonic, cut a thin half-wheel of lime and placed it festively. Be solicitous, servile. Try to soften her. Don’t resist in any way.
But when she returned, Mom was holding up a thin windowed envelope, a bill from some credit card company, and demanding: “Know how I got this? Came right to the office. Angela gave it to me. I didn’t even know this bill existed. It’s for seven hundred dollars. Your father never mentioned it.”
What would be the least resistant reply possible? Tara tried, “That’s awful, Mom.”
“Awful? It’s the most humiliating thing that can ever happen to anyone. Anyone. Ever. Of course your father isn’t worried. Your father thinks we’ll be fine.”
“Well, won’t we?”
Oh, that was dumb. That was way too cheerful. Mom pounced. “You don’t get it at all, do you? They’re gonna foreclose. They’re gonna take our house. They’re gonna take it out from under our feet and take the damn Liberty with it. You’re gonna have to leave school. I’m sorry, cupcake. You’re gonna have to start producing some income.”
“Mom, I’m a little tired. Would you mind if I—”
“Do you think I’m not tired? I am so damn tired of being this poor and your father in total denial and you kids thinking this is some kind of bad dream we’re gonna wake up from! We’re gonna lose everything, do you not get it? This boat is sinking. Nobody’s gonna bail us out. The boat is going down! I mean, baby, sugar-cake, you’re gonna have to start swimming. You’re gonna—”
But then came a fanfare on the TV, and instantly Mom left off. She gave Jase a little swat and he hustled out of her way, and she leaned forward to check her flotilla of tickets.
“And now,” said a somber announcer, “here’s tonight’s drawing for the Max-a-Million jackpot. Tonight’s jackpot is worth… three hundred and eighteen milly-on dollars.”
No one onscreen. Just the voice of that undertaker. And a hopper in the shape of a funeral urn, full of lightly waltzing plastic balls. One of them flew up suddenly on a puff of air and rolled down a serpentine ramp and posed itself before the camera.
“The first number is… tuh-wenty-seven.”
Mom murmured, “Uh-huh. Got that here.” Trying for indifference. But her eyes were full of eagerness.
Tara quietly cheated a few steps toward the hall.
“The next number is forty-two.”
“Well I do have that,” said Mom.
And Tara made her move. Melted silkily away while Mom was too dazzled by the numbers to notice.
In her room, Tara shut the door and sat at the laptop on her desk. Clio had just posted:
u still "studying" bitch? do u think jonah wrights sperm has beneficial properties of healing? wil it help u lose pounds from hips waist and thighs? he wasn't at headquarters tho just creepy seth from jax. I h8 the wick. die if I dont getout of the wick.
Tara wrote back:
Havent started yet. Caught by Mom. She's watching the drawing. In 20 seconds she'l lose and go skitzo.
And right on time: Mom’s hell-on-the-loose shriek from the living room. Worse even than usual. Then: “TARA! TA-RA!”
Tara typed brb and opened the door. “Yes?”
Particularly anguished tonight. Tara returned to the living room to find her on her knees before the TV, with Jase cowering in the corner. Mom had utterly lost it. Her mouth was open and she was holding up one of her tickets and tears were pouring down her cheeks, and this wasn’t just another drunken display of self-pity: there was true fear. “GRACE OF GOD!” she cried. As though she were beholding His face at that very moment. She clutched the ticket in her fist and rocked back and forth. “GRACE OF GOD! GRACE OF GOD! GRACE OF GOD!”
Excerpted from Ravens by Green, George Dawes Copyright © 2010 by Green, George Dawes. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
George Dawes Green works every angle in this deceptively simple thriller about a family who's enormous lottery win attracts the attention of two unstable, dangerous dudes. George captures the characters in that deft, short hand fashion that's the hallmark of the master suspense writer. The story makes some unexpected turns along the way. The resolution does seem to come all of a sudden. But this sort of story can only end one way and George has the sense not to hang around after the ending. Which I like. There's nothing left to tell.
Interesting premise, but the book was rushed towards the end. Also, the author takes some big leaps to move the plot along concerning the family and their interactions with their captors. The book could have had another 50 pages of plot and character development and I would have given it 5 stars. Still a good read and I liked the writing style from each character's perspective.
This is the second book I have read by George Dawes Green and boy, am I glad I was introduced to his works. In Ravens two grifters on their way to Florida, when stopping at a convince store, find out that a local family has just won 380 million dollars in the state Jackpot. Shaw, one of the grifters, decides that he and his friend are going to get in on the money. They find the family and place pressures on them to obtain 1/2 of their winnings. The way they maintain their hold upon the family is through constant terror. I loved this book. Green did a wonderful job with describing the setting of Brunswick, NC making it seem down home, yet dirty and oppressive at the same time. He used many different techniques to relate the character's emotions and inner demons with the things around them. And all the while, he built the tension of the novel so high and tight I thought I would burst! Once the climax was at its max I found my heart racing and my mind reeling. Green is a master at building suspense and terror. I listened to the audio version of this book and I am sure I don't have to tell you how much I love Hachette's Audio books. This one did have a flaw in my eyes. The female voice, I found to be harsh and raspy. I am not sure if they had her speak that way for effect or not but I found it really off putting. The male voice on the other hand way GREAT, so many different characters to portray and yet each one had their own voice.
Nice twist of events. A believable story line. Good development of characters. Kept my interest throughout. Entertaining and a reflection of human nature.
Although the language was more vulgar than necessary, the book was interesting and explored the minds of the characters in a realistic way. I would recommend it.
Patsy Boatwright spends every Wednesday night the same way...curled up on the couch with a drink waiting for the winning Jackpot numbers. Even though week after week she is disappointed, she knows without a doubt that sooner or later, her numbers will win. And she was right, one night she falls on her knees screaming "Grace Of God, Grace Of God, Grace Of God" over and over. She had won three hundred and eighteen million dollars. Romeo and Shaw are on their way from Ohio to Florida when they stop at a convenience store to check their tire pressure. One of them overhears a clerk on her cell phone talking about the store selling the state Jackpot winning ticket. Together they hold the Boatwrights hostage, telling them they'll murder some family members if they don't cooperate. This is another book that I feel must have a short review for fear of posting spoilers. The author has done a good job of letting us get to know these characters. They are all so different it kept me interested and entertained. George Dawes Green has added many facets to this book, and some were hilarious, the power Shaw has over everyone. I love this book because it's full of a different kind of suspense than most books. You're not trying to figure out who the bad guys are, you already know that. The suspense is waiting to see how it all ends. I hope to see more from this author.
This book was just an okay read for me. While the idea behind the story was interesting and I enjoyed the author's writing style, I still had a hard time getting through this one. I guess the biggest thing was that I didn't find any of these characters likeable and, therefore, couldn't feel much sympathy for any of them, even the family being terrorized by Romeo and Shaw. The one character I did want to see succeed was the sheriff, but by the time he got involved and started investigating what was going on, I didn't care whether the Boatwright family got out of this mess or not. This was just one of those books I wish I hadn't picked up.
I really enjoyed this book!
Interesting "what if" that drives the story. Green doesn't get too deep into the characters, but there is no way he can when he's dancing back and forth between at least five PoVs. It works, though. The reader gets a 360 degree view of Brunswick, GA as well as the unsuspecting family that hits it big.What Ravens lacks in character development and empathy for its ilk, it makes up for in pacing and action. One of the best things about the book is that it takes place over a few days and it really feels that way while readingf--nothing feels rushed or too drawn out for the time frame to cause disbelief.
While on their way from Ohio to Florida, Shaw McBride and Romeo Zderko stop at a gas station in Brunswick, Georgia. Shaw overhears a clerk telling someone that a local family has purchased the winning lottery ticket for the $318 million dollar jackpot at that store. Shaw cooks up a scheme to extort half of the money from the Boatwright family. He holds the family hostage while Romeo prowls around ready to murder their family and friends at a moment¿s notice.The Boatwrights resist at first, but eventually go along with Shaw¿s plan out of fear for their loved ones. At the press conference, Shaw announces that he will be giving all of his half of the money away to charity. All of a sudden, he has a huge legion of followers who think he can perform miracles. It seems like Shaw and the Boatwrights are getting along well but there are things brewing under the surface.George Dawes Green does a masterful job of building and maintaining suspense in Ravens. This is a fast-paced page turner, that I couldn¿t put down. The character development is good, even though this is a plot driven book. I had an intense dislike for Shaw and sympathy for Romeo. There are lots of twists and turns, so the ending was totally unexpected for me, but I think it worked very well. There¿s even a little dark humor in this one. The setting ¿ a small, dead-end town in the deep South ¿ almost became another character for me because I know exactly what those kinds of towns are like.
Stopping for gas in a small town in Georgia, two guys in the middle of a road trip hear about a local family having just won a staggeringly large lotto jackpot and hatch a plan to extort a share of the cash out of them by threatening their loved ones. It's good premise for a thriller, and the writing is decent, in a vaguely literary sort of way. But this book really didn't work for me, mainly because the characters didn't work for me. The victim family and their friends are mostly cliched, unlikeable, and flat, except maybe for the grandmother, who has a sort of forced, artificial quirkiness that's just as bad. Meanwhile, the criminals are stupid enough that you have to wonder how they manage to get very far with this plan at all, and their supposed psychological motivations are mushy and unconvincing. I think they're all meant to be sort of darkly humorous, but on the whole I just found them irritating. Which meant that I didn't particularly care what might happen to any of them. Which in turn meant that I never felt much in the way of suspense. And, oh, yeah, there's also a bizarre religious motif that crops up throughout the novel, but if there's any actual point to that I have no idea what it is.
Shaw McBride and Romeo Zderko are on their way to Florida for a much-needed vacation. While stopped at a gas station in Brunswick, Georgia, Shaw overhears the clerk on the phone gossiping about a local family who won the lottery. The winning lottery ticket of $300+ million dollars was purchased at that store but the family was still unknown. As is common with most small towns, the news of who the family is begins to spread and due to some clever detective work, the internet and that ever popular MySpace, Shaw is able to find out everything about the winning family, the Boatwright¿s.The Boatwright¿s are down in their luck. They are stressing over bills and living week to week on their paychecks. Tara their teenage daughter is working and putting herself through college just to flee the `Wick¿ and her crazy parents. Her mother Patsy is an alcoholic who tends to take her anger out on her - she plays the lottery religiously on a weekly basis - and when they hit the jackpot they expect all their prayers to be answered... little did they know that their happiness would be short-lived.That night Shaw visits the Boatwright home and holds the family hostage. He threatens all the family¿s relatives and loved ones (everyone from the grandmother to Tara¿s BFF). He has Romeo driving around town from home to home and tells the family that if something goes wrong with his plan of taking half their winnings, Romeo is instructed to stop at the nearest home in his list and kill whichever loved one resides there. While the news of their win is made public they must act normal and hope that Shaw¿s plan comes to fruition without anyone getting hurt.For some reason this hit a nerve with me. I was frightened and at the same time couldn¿t put it down. I just had to know what would happen next. This was a roller coaster ride for me. There were times where I laughed and times were I just wanted someone to fight Shaw and Romeo back. I was frustrated and then there were times where I was plain scared for them. It brought out the best and worst in me I guess. All in all, I enjoyed it. I can see where this would make a great movie. The fact that Shaw was was able to do all his research on MySpace totally blew me away. It¿s amazing how much information is made public on the world wide web. Scary!If you are in the mood for a chilling, edge of your seat - can¿t put it down thriller, then check this one out.
Probably not worth the effort so don't waste your time.
Living in Iowa has been an education in the lottery. The lottery is a big deal in our state, and each day I drive by a sign that shows the current jackpot. Personally, I have no interest in purchasing my own lottery tickets, but sometimes just for fun, my husband and I fantasize what we would do with the money. At the very least, it is certain that our lives would change.Ravens is the story of the Boatwright family, residents of a small Georgia town, who have been teetering on the brink of financial disaster. Then one Wednesday night, as Patsy Boatwright engages in her weekly ritual of fortifying herself with alcohol while she watches the lottery results on tv, the Boatwright's ship comes in. The Boatwright family are the sole winners of a $318 million jackpot. Meanwhile, Shaw McBride and Romeo Zderko, two young men looking for an easy escape from their dead end jobs, are passing through town. Fate intervenes, and Shaw overhears about the Boatwright's amazing good fortune and he decides that he wants a piece of it for himself; half to be exact. Shaw, with the assistance of his doggedly loyal companion Romeo, embarks on a plan to force the Boatwright's to share their winnings. What follows is a story full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the very end.Ravens is an exciting read from beginning to end, but it is much more of a psychological thriller than a blood and guts page turner. The book features some great characters, most of whom are nicely developed. I especially found the characters of Shaw and Romeo to be very interesting. Shaw, who is a master of manipulation more than anything else, even seems to believe his own lies after a while, and he craves not only the cooperation, but the devotion of his intended victims. In contrast, Romeo is a villain who I almost found myself feeling sorry for as sometimes he seemed almost a victim himself. I also have to mention Tara Boatwright, who initially I was sure was going to be just another token female victim, but developed into so much more through the course of the book.This is a great read, with interesting characters, and a pretty original premise. This is definitely a book that will keep your interest, as well as make you think.
Patsy Boatwright spends every Wednesday night the same way...curled up on the couch with a drink waiting for the winning Jackpot numbers. Even though week after week she is disappointed, she knows without a doubt that sooner or later, her numbers will win. And she was right, one night she falls on her knees screaming "Grace Of God, Grace Of God, Grace Of God" over and over. She had won three hundred and eighteen million dollars.Romeo and Shaw are on their way from Ohio to Florida when they stop at a convenience store to check their tire pressure. One of them overhears a clerk on her cell phone talking about the store selling the state Jackpot winning ticket. Together they hold the Boatwrights hostage, telling them they'll murder some family members if they don't cooperate. This is another book that I feel must have a short review for fear of posting spoilers. The author has done a good job of letting us get to know these characters. They are all so different it kept me interested and entertained. George Dawes Green has added many facets to this book, and some were hilarious, the power Shaw has over everyone. I love this book because it's full of a different kind of suspense than most books. You're not trying to figure out who the bad guys are, you already know that. The suspense is waiting to see how it all ends. I hope to see more from this author.
Ravens by George Dawes Green on audio, which I received from a giveaway on Peeking Between the Pages, is action-packed, engaging, and unique. Readers are first introduced to Shaw McBride and Romeo Zderko, two young gentlemen fed up with the "system" and anxious to leave Ohio for the great unknown and make their mark. Unfortunately, Shaw has a dark side and Romeo can lose control of his emotions.The young men are traveling south and end up in Brunswick, Georgia, where they learn the identity of the state lottery winners -- the Boatwrights. Shaw concocts a plan to garner the men at least half if not more of the $318 million prize.The narrators shift between the Boatwrights, the local police officer, Romeo, and Shaw, with Maggi-Meg Reed's Southern accent pretty close to the real thing and Robert Petkoff slightly dramatic in his portrayal. However, each character's voice was easily discernible, making it easy to follow the shifting narration. Listeners will be drawn into the plight of the Boatwrights and may even sympathize with Romeo, but Shaw is another story. The tension is palatable, and readers will be kept guessing as to how the extortion situation will be resolved.Ravens on audio made the commute fly by, and those that love mysteries and thrillers will find this a satisfactory listen. My husband and I often became absorbed in the story and had to wait for a chapter to end outside my office building in the mornings before I got out of the car. He loved the ending the best, though it is graphic, because it resolves the situation in a satisfactory way.
Suspense-filled literary fiction that's equally plot and character driven.
RavensAuthor: George Dawes GreenISBN: 978-0-446-53896-1 Pages: 336, $24.99, Publication Date: July 15, 2009, Hardcover, Novel, Published by Grand Central PublishingThe odds of winning a lottery prize in excess of one million dollars are astronomical, but to have won 318 million is beyond belief. Ravens, written by George Dawes Green is the winning ticket along with a whole passel of fear. Widely acclaimed author of The Juror and The Caveman¿s Valentine Green brings forth his newest offering after a 14 year hiatus. Grand Central Publishing only printed 45,000 1st edition copies because they wondered if the public would have forgotten this masterful writer. Fear not, oh great publisher, this book hits it right on the head with a suspenseful tale woven in the true fabric of mystery.Shaw McBride and Romeo Zderko are two heinous characters who hatch a scheme to fleece the Boatwright family of half of their anticipated fortune. Shaw devises a map which is to be followed by Romeo as he patrols the streets in the community and at a given cell-phone-notice, he is to stop at the next house on the map and murder Boatwright¿s loved ones. Equipped with an antique sword and a 22 caliber pistol, Romeo begins his rounds after he had been introduced as the mad henchman to the Boatwrights held hostage by Shaw.The lottery officials and media do not suspect anything is amiss while the family awaits the final certification which will deliver the money to them. So ingenious is the plot contrived by McBride that he is named as an equal recipient of the $318,000,000. A local constable is bumbling along as complications arise in the relationship between Shaw and the Boatwrights. He suspects something is wrong, but he cannot prove a thing. In fact, he is ordered to step out of the picture by his superiors. Several times he stumbles upon Romeo and has this nagging feeling things are not as they seem.Shaw announces to the community that he is going to give his share of the money to help the needy; everyone embraces him as a wonderful person. He inveigles himself into the family activities and even goes seining (fishing with a seine net) with them. All the while reminding the family that Romeo will commit mayhem.A well-constructed storyline which will keep you reading right to the end. This book keeps you in suspense and is highly recommended. George Dawes Green is indeed back on top of his game!
This book was an unexpected pleasure. After reading the blurb, I thought this would be a suspense filled thriller, likely to end in a bloody mess at the end like so many thriller/horror movies. I started reading with some trepidation, but was immediately sucked into the story. Well, maybe not into the story because there really isn't a lot of plot or story here, but into the work itself. This book is a wonderful character study loosely tied to the whole kidnapping/terror plot. There are jewels here, tightly written snippets of conversation and memory that reveal volumes about the personalities involved in just a few well-chosen words. Romeo especially offers a wealth of pain, confusion, and love wrapped up in the personal of a tough guy who is much more a lost boy. I definitely preferred Romeo to Shaw as a character, and found his to be a more believable back story and personality.Given that I sat down meaning to read just a few pages and ended up pushing through to the end, this book obviously succeeds in engaging the reader. I would have given it five stars if I had been able to better understand the power that Shaw seemed to exert over people. The whole cult that sprang up around Shaw was a little too unrealistic for my taste, but otherwise I was quite impressed by the character sketches delivered in Ravens. Highly recommended 4.5 stars.
Romeo was driving down from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the baffling twilight, going too fast, when a raccoon or possum ran in front of the car. The impact was disturbingly gentle. No thud -- just a soft unzipping, beneath the chassis.So opens Ravens, the premise of which I knew going in: Romeo and Shaw, on a drive to Florida from their tech-support jobs in Ohio, decide to stop en route and co-opt half of a huge lottery prize from the winners. But what surprised me was that the opening paragraph concludes by painting the villains likeable (Still, it tore at Romeo¿s heart. He braked and pulled over.) and, further down the page, playful. And what hooked me were the next few pages, where I developed an intriguing dislike for the good guys -- the lottery-winning Boatwright family.The novel¿s strength is its ability to hold me in that incongruence. It also held me in a state of suspended disbelief -- after all, who would believe that the winners of $318 million would acquiesce when a couple strangers announce they¿re taking half? Yet every time I wondered about the believability of characters¿ actions, George Dawes Green showed me their motivations and brought me back in. It¿s a fun, comic novel (not all of it dark comedy), populated by an entertaining ensemble of small-town-Georgia characters; subplots and twists that are well earned; and suspense that is more compelling (inquisitive; page-turning) than scary. Recommended!
Ravens are thought to be scavengers but really they are intelligent creatures who can get animals to do the hard work for them. Such is the case with the raven characters in George Dawes Green's book by the same name.Shaw McBride and Romeo Zderko are traveling to Florida for a vacation from their tech support jobs in Piqua, Ohio. While stopped in Georgia, Shaw overhears the convenience store clerk talk about the identity of the unannounced winner of the 318 million dollar jackpot. Shaw gets the idea to hold the Boatwright family hostage in exchange for half of the prize money. He uses Romeo as a threat to keep them under his control. Romeo is armed with a map showing the addresses of their friends and relatives. As the person in Shaw's life who has always stood by him, Romeo goes along with the role he's been assigned in this tale. Romeo and Shaw may be friends but they are made of different stuff. Romeo has compassion. Shaw is interested only in what will get him ahead. The reader can see the differences between them from their actions.At the news conference to announce the lottery winners, Shaw announces he's going to give away all of the money. Lured by his image and his story, people come from miles around to be near Shaw. They want to meet the man who turned his life around and pledged to do good for others. Except for the convenience store clerk, no one has a clue that Shaw didn't spend any money towards the winning lottery ticket.The Boatwright family (Mitch - father; Patsy - mother; Tara - teenage daughter; and Jase - pre-teen son) deal with the situation in varying ways and go through a gamut of emotions. Tara is Shaw's way into family and tries to keep the others level. Ravens hooks the reader and refuses to let go until the unexpected ending. It's true to all of the characters and was satisfying on many levels.
This one was a page turner. I was so hooked right from the word go with this one. The story was narrated by a few different characters. It jumped back and forth, but it didn't seem choppy. The story just goes on, but from a different perspective. It wasn't like it would switch to a new character and rehash what the last character just told us. The writing was good. There was only one thing that bothered me, when a character is talking the author would use Said Shaw instead of Shaw Said. But that was really the only thing I didn't like.I liked the beginning, it gave us enough info about the characters to pull me into the story, without giving so much detail that it became mundane. It follows the Boatwright family and then friends Shaw and Romeo. The Boatwrights win the lottery and that's when Shaw and Romeo really enter the picture.The suspense in this novel doesn't come from not knowing what's going on. Quite the opposite, we know what's going on right from the word go. The suspense comes from hoping that someone will slip and everyone else will know what is going on. I would say it's more psychological that physical suspense. The ending threw me for a loop. And while the last passage confused me a little it still was a great ending. Overall good writing and a great story.
Mitch and Patsy Boatwright have won the lottery, making them overnight millionaires. They are a dysfunctional family living in rural Georgia. Patsy is an alcoholic and, prior to winning the big prize, was borderline abusive - especially on the nights of the lottery drawings. Tara, their oldest daughter, just wanted out. She did the best she could to avoid her mother on the night's they drew the lottery. Mitch owns a local office supply store and is as deeply religious as he is ineffectual. The glue that really holds the family together is Nell, Patsy's mother. Winning the lottery seems like it may be the answer to the family's prayers. They will no longer need monetarily and and there is hope, perhaps, that the disappearance of that stressor will change everything. Unfortunately, Shaw McBride and Romeo Zderko, two drifters from Ohio, overhear about the family's good fortune while stopping briefly at a gas station and hatch a plot of terror to steal half of the winnings from themselves.This novel is full of interesting psychological insights. Patsy fairly easily falls under Shaw's spell and even when the lives of her husband, mother, or daughter are at risk, she's still dreaming of that Malibu mansion. Shaw uses that and her alcohol addiction to keep her in her place. Tara's situation is even more complex. She has an understanding of Stockholm Syndrome and she hates what Shaw is doing to her father, but even she feels a pull toward him, an attraction that she tries to deny. It was also interesting how Shaw began to buy his own press after people from all over the country flock to him, believing that his participation in buying the winning lottery ticket is the ultimate sign of God's redemption. Those scenes reminded me a great deal of Jodi Picoult's Keepig Faith. The best part of the novel for me, however, was the internal work that Romeo goes through as he continually drives around the town and contemplates having to kill innocent people for his best friend. He has to come to terms with being made the muscle in a plan he didn't originally want any part of all out of loyalty to his best friend.I did not dislike Ravens. I thought there were some interesting, although not necessarily likable, characters and the end of the novel kept me reading. I cannot say that I liked this novel, though. The basic premise is quite promising. I'm sure that this would be the worst nightmare of anyone who plays the lottery with dreams of winning it all. This novel wasn't all it could have been for me because I could not suspend my disbelief enough to buy Shaw being able to take and hold the family captive as easily as he did. Shaw and Romeo might have had a sordid past, but they were not just looking for something illegal to do. They simply stopped at a gas station and overheard news of a local lottery winner. Within 24 hours, they were executing their hastily made plans. While I believe one could quite easily discover enough information about a family from a teenager's MySpace pages, I cannot believe that the lottery commission or local law enforcement as a whole wouldn't be slightest bit suspicious of Shaw's story.Ravens was the first novel published by George Dawes Green in several years. I have not read any of his earlier work, but the hype certainly had me anticipating something more sinister and cohesive. Perhaps family's in crisis are easily targeted and picked off by violent con artists, but that just didn't work for me. Even so, I can't believe that two people not already looking to terrorize a family can stumble upon the perfect situation, decide upon a plan in less than 24 hours, make it work, and get away with it for as long as Shaw and Romeo did without making huge mistakes. Ravens never had an edge for me. It is interesting as a character or psychological study, but if you are looking for a psychological thriller, I would suggest reading The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris or just about anything by Steven King first. It