Shirker by Chad Taylor

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Hallucinatory and erotic, Shirker is a terrifying exploration of violent and sexually charged obsessions, as powerful and mystifying in its way as was William Hjortsberg's Falling Angel, and as original and fresh as Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose.

Using the form of a mystery, but clearly eschewing the formula, Taylor has crafted a tale that is built word by word and idea by idea on a foundation of storytelling skills that are rare and brilliant. The result is a novel that is compulsively and obsessively readable, matching the drive that sends its hero, Ellerslie Penrose, as close to the edge as anyone is likely to want to go.

Set in New Zealand, Shirker opens with a deadly discovery by Penrose, a part-time futures broker and full-time existentialist; it ends with him facing more questions than he might have imagined. In between, he trawls through a series of events and places as bizarre as they are fascinating, learning the depth of the evil against which he is pitted and which he must counter with no weapon or help other than his own wits.


About Chad Taylor

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Chad Taylor lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand. He is the author of one collection of short stories and four previous novels. His second novel, Heaven, was made into a feature film by Miramax. His third and fourth, Shirker and Electric, have been translated into many languages.
Published March 7, 2000 by Canongate Crime. 254 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Tad’s twin brother Dede, his surviving partner, shows Penrose Tad’s latest and most mysterious treasure—a diary written on phenakistascope disks, detailing the early life of Drew Palmer, a boy who escaped miraculously from death in a train crash nearly a hundred years earlier.

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Publishers Weekly

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Futures broker Ellerslie Penrose, the narrator of New Zealand author Taylor's noir thriller (the first of his novels to achieve U.S. publication) has been living alone in his office in downtown Auckland, dealing with his clients over the phone and getting little sleep.

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Entertainment Weekly

Imagine Raymond Chandler filing from New Zealand with a little help from Anne Rice and Jean-Paul Sartre, and you're still not close to imagining the oddity of the weird, wonderful novel Shirker.

Dec 15 2000 | Read Full Review of Shirker

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