Bad Signs by R J Ellory

Bad Signs is set in the 1960s, in Texas in the USA and takes place during one week – only seven days, but an exhausting seven days, for the characters and for the reader. Elliot and Clarence are two half-brothers, better known as Digger and Clay, they were orphaned at an early age and have spent their time in ‘juvy’. Life has not been good for them – were they born under a ‘bad sign’, will the dark star that has followed them through life always make life this bad? It certainly seems that way when they are taken hostage by a convicted murderer, Earl Sheridan – a mad, bad man with nothing to lose and who lets nothing get in his way.
And so follows a fast-paced story, as the fugitives set off across Texas, in the hope of finding their own Eldorado.

Earl Sheridan is possibly one of the meanest, psychopathic individuals that I have ever read about and it is these traits that are welcomed by one of the brothers. Not for him, the horror of murder and torture and totally meaningless death, instead it sparks something inside him that reveals the darkness within and soon he too starts to cause his own kind of havoc – leaving a shocking trail of misery in his wake. The other brother finds himself caught up in a chase that he doesn’t understand and is not really aware of whilst finding his first real friend of his life.

There were times when I just had to stop reading. As much as I was desperate to know which way the story was going to turn next, the full-on details of some horrific murders, the sense of horror and the shock of some of the decisions made by the characters almost took away my breath, and stopping for breath was all I could do.

There are some scenes in Bad Signs that shock, yet none of them are unnecessary to the story, and despite the horror they just add more depth to the story. This is no ordinary crime novel, this is a story of the evil that is hidden away inside some human beings and the depths that some people will go. The characters are flawed inside but brilliantly portrayed. The small-town image, the sleepy countryside, awoken by the terror that comes amongst them, and the unrelenting sense of not really knowing if justice will be done makes this another thrilling read from Ellory. Who knows just where he will go to next?

This post was submitted by Anne Cater.