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Death Is a Lonely Business

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Ray Bradbury, the undisputed Dean of American storytelling, dips his accomplished pen into the cryptic inkwell of noir and creates a stylish and slightly fantastical tale of mayhem and murder set among the shadows and the murky canals of Venice, California, in the early 1950s. Toiling away amid the looming palm trees and decaying bungalows, a struggling young writer (who be Ray Bradbury, the undisputed Dean of American storytelling, dips his accomplished pen into the cryptic inkwell of noir and creates a stylish and slightly fantastical tale of mayhem and murder set among the shadows and the murky canals of Venice, California, in the early 1950s. Toiling away amid the looming palm trees and decaying bungalows, a struggling young writer (who bears a resemblance to the author) spins fantastic stories from his fertile imagination upon his clacking typewriter. Trying not to miss his girlfriend (away studying in Mexico), the nameless writer steadily crafts his literary effort--until strange things begin happening around him. Starting with a series of peculiar phone calls, the writer then finds clumps of seaweed on his doorstep. But as the incidents escalate, his friends fall victim to a series of mysterious "accidents"--some of them fatal. Aided by Elmo Crumley, a savvy, street-smart detective, and a reclusive actress of yesteryear with an intense hunger for life, the wordsmith sets out to find the connection between the bizarre events, and in doing so, uncovers the truth about his own creative abilities.

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Ray Bradbury, the undisputed Dean of American storytelling, dips his accomplished pen into the cryptic inkwell of noir and creates a stylish and slightly fantastical tale of mayhem and murder set among the shadows and the murky canals of Venice, California, in the early 1950s. Toiling away amid the looming palm trees and decaying bungalows, a struggling young writer (who be Ray Bradbury, the undisputed Dean of American storytelling, dips his accomplished pen into the cryptic inkwell of noir and creates a stylish and slightly fantastical tale of mayhem and murder set among the shadows and the murky canals of Venice, California, in the early 1950s. Toiling away amid the looming palm trees and decaying bungalows, a struggling young writer (who bears a resemblance to the author) spins fantastic stories from his fertile imagination upon his clacking typewriter. Trying not to miss his girlfriend (away studying in Mexico), the nameless writer steadily crafts his literary effort--until strange things begin happening around him. Starting with a series of peculiar phone calls, the writer then finds clumps of seaweed on his doorstep. But as the incidents escalate, his friends fall victim to a series of mysterious "accidents"--some of them fatal. Aided by Elmo Crumley, a savvy, street-smart detective, and a reclusive actress of yesteryear with an intense hunger for life, the wordsmith sets out to find the connection between the bizarre events, and in doing so, uncovers the truth about his own creative abilities.

30 review for Death Is a Lonely Business

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    Death is a Lonely Business is Ray Bradbury’s addition to the noir mystery genre. Told with all the requisite intrigue and catchy simile and metaphor, Bradbury nevertheless cannot be mistaken as anyone but himself. Like an actor who is cast in an odd role, Bradbury remains the sentimental, kooky writer, and that is a part of this novel’s charm. Set in an aging and decrepit Venice California in 1949, the unnamed protagonist is an overweight, clumsy, near sighted writer who bears a great resemblanc Death is a Lonely Business is Ray Bradbury’s addition to the noir mystery genre. Told with all the requisite intrigue and catchy simile and metaphor, Bradbury nevertheless cannot be mistaken as anyone but himself. Like an actor who is cast in an odd role, Bradbury remains the sentimental, kooky writer, and that is a part of this novel’s charm. Set in an aging and decrepit Venice California in 1949, the unnamed protagonist is an overweight, clumsy, near sighted writer who bears a great resemblance to Ray. All the more fun is the frequent allusions to stories he has published that are unmistakably actual Bradbury creations. Like many of this works, Bradbury fills this with a funhouse cornucopia of colorful characters. It is a little too slow getting started, but the ending is well worth it. Like so many of Bradbury’s works, most of the enjoyment in reading is simply his mastery of language and medium.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    I've read this book twice. It is written in a noire style, but with a feel of the fantastical running through it. The main character is a struggling writer (Bradbury himself) who is trying keep his art flowing but is lonely. His girlfriend is an ocean away and he seems so detached from everyone around him. But then a murder mystery unfolds and the writer must solve it. As the novel moves forward you find that Bradbury has many friends, some existing, some new, the relationships brought about thr I've read this book twice. It is written in a noire style, but with a feel of the fantastical running through it. The main character is a struggling writer (Bradbury himself) who is trying keep his art flowing but is lonely. His girlfriend is an ocean away and he seems so detached from everyone around him. But then a murder mystery unfolds and the writer must solve it. As the novel moves forward you find that Bradbury has many friends, some existing, some new, the relationships brought about through the events in the novel. He also loves each one's uniqueness. The weirder they are the more they are loved because they are themselves. The old, the discarded, the friendless are especially dear to him. They mystery is just the method for us to learn about Bradbury's heart.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Miriam

    Writerly, well-written, and about writing. Also about murder, loneliness, social change, urban decay, old movies, and poetry.

  4. 4 out of 5

    El

    I love Ray Bradbury. I love his books, I love his short stories, I love how his cover picture has been the same one (the one of him holding his cat) for as long as I can remember, and I love that people always ask if he's still alive or not. The man is a mystery to me, and some of his books and stories touch me in ways that other books and stories have not. (No, that's not meant to be dirty. For once.) Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes are the two Most-Important-Bradbury-Books-to I love Ray Bradbury. I love his books, I love his short stories, I love how his cover picture has been the same one (the one of him holding his cat) for as long as I can remember, and I love that people always ask if he's still alive or not. The man is a mystery to me, and some of his books and stories touch me in ways that other books and stories have not. (No, that's not meant to be dirty. For once.) Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes are the two Most-Important-Bradbury-Books-to-Me. I read them at the right age, they made an impression, they will always be near and dear to me. Most of his short stories are fantastic as well, but since you're not asking, the story that has stayed with me the most over the years is All Summer in a Day, the title of which I can never remember and I usually have to ask my brother. (This time I did an Interwebz search and found it. Yay me!) What those books and that story have in common are their sense of the fantastic. That's what I love about Bradbury - they're coming-of-age stories and Bradbury writes children better than most adult writers can, and then he throws in some crazy unimaginable stuff and the whole story goes supernova. Death Is a Lonely Business isn't quite like that. This is different than his usual writing - this is his attempt at a noir, his homage to Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler. Bradbury uses himself in the story as a younger man. It all seems like something I would probably dig a lot. Unfortunately it didn't quite work for me. I don't blame Bradbury for this; my head is totally elsewhere. But maybe this isn't the genre for Bradbury. The fact that I don't believe (but could be wrong) he did any other books like this indicates maybe he felt the same way. Still, considering I will read anything Bradbury put on paper, this wasn't a complete disappointment. I think I'll just be sticking with his more fantastical stories in the future.

  5. 5 out of 5

    X

    A dark mystery/detective story (kind of) in typical Bradbury style. Marvelous writing and good, memorable characters. What I learned: Not to read this book while home alone on a stormy night with family away in the LA area of California. At least I wasn't listening to Tosca.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bert

    The type of book only Ray Bradbury could've come up with. A bit of a noir murder-mystery.. With supernatural undercurrents, some Bradbury weirdness (and brilliant writing), actually it reminded me a bit of Big Lebowski, and the setting of 1940's California kinda made me think it was a little nod to his early struggling pulp writer days, cos that's what the narrator is. A brilliant, neglected novel.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joey

    A great mystery from the master wordsmith. A noir thriller that plays out like a classic black and white movie while being a bit surreal at times and uniquely clever. A very Goodread.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    While not Bradbury's all time best, this is a nice change of pace. Written relatively recently-- 1999-- the book is a postmodern mystery with a young version of the writer himself cast in the role of the detective. The killer is particularly creepy, an unseen presence waiting outside the homes of lonely failures, waiting for a chance to end their lives without ever doing more than gently touching them. Old women scared to death, drunks turned over in bathtubs, blind men tripped on staircases... While not Bradbury's all time best, this is a nice change of pace. Written relatively recently-- 1999-- the book is a postmodern mystery with a young version of the writer himself cast in the role of the detective. The killer is particularly creepy, an unseen presence waiting outside the homes of lonely failures, waiting for a chance to end their lives without ever doing more than gently touching them. Old women scared to death, drunks turned over in bathtubs, blind men tripped on staircases... and an old man drowned in a lion's cage. The climax didn't quite satisfy, but it's a good read. There are a lot of references to Bradbury's science fiction stories. You can see the ostensible roots of "The Veldt" here, of fragments from Something Wicked this Way Comes, and "The Foghorn," which looms larger than life throughout the story. As a Bradbury fan, those moments of recognition added a fun element to the book. For more on comics, humanity, morality and the world check out The Stupid Philosopher, aka a place where I put my words.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Guy Cheston

    Every Bradbury novel out there is worth your time.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ralph

    With this book, Ray Bradbury not only returned to writing full-length fiction after a long absence, but returned to the roots of his writing after an even longer absence. Here we have a tale of mystery that, at least at first glance, might have appeared in the detective pulps of the Thirties, but in a style of writing seasoned by decades of honing storytelling skills, a fully developed poetic style, and an unabashed love of the English language. The narrator is a stand-in for the young Ray Bradbu With this book, Ray Bradbury not only returned to writing full-length fiction after a long absence, but returned to the roots of his writing after an even longer absence. Here we have a tale of mystery that, at least at first glance, might have appeared in the detective pulps of the Thirties, but in a style of writing seasoned by decades of honing storytelling skills, a fully developed poetic style, and an unabashed love of the English language. The narrator is a stand-in for the young Ray Bradbury, furiously writing his tales of mystery, mayhem and fantasy, not yet “discovered” by the readers of the time, and dwelling amidst the creeping corruption of Venice (California) with characters as eccentric as any he ever inserted into his tales of dark dwarves, lurking shadows and shy Martians. He discovers an old man, murdered, down in one of the canals filled with the remains of a circus long gone bust. Finding the body was enough of a shock to his mind, but it was made worse by finding it after hearing an unseen man sitting behind him on a trolley whisper, “Death is a lonely business.” Was it the murderer? Was it Death himself? Tenuously allied with a police detective, the narrator searches for the answer to the mystery. In doing so, he crosses paths with the bizarre inhabitants of the odd little community, among whom are a barber who would rather play Scott Joplin tunes than give bad haircuts, a canary lady who might live forever, a cinema owner who refuses to show films with soundtracks, and a fat lady who loves opera. They are all possible suspects and possible victims. And then there is the Unknowable, the Unnamable, the dark presence that stands outside a house in the dead of night, leaving behind only damp weeds and the scent of dead things. At times, Bradbury revels so much in his characters and in the telling of the tale that the tale itself seems to slip to the background. In those moments, we are fully absorbed into Bradbury’s world, a realm of mystery and darkness, of characterization and beguiling words. But Bradbury the Storyteller always returns to rescue us from that world, to put us back on the track of a killer. An extremely enjoyable book for those who love moody and atmospheric mysteries peopled with unique characters, and rewarding for those who can truly appreciate Bradbury’s love affair with the English language.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bev

    Finished up Death Is a Lonely Business--Ray Bradbury's 1985 non-SF novel. Set in 1949, this novel evokes the atmosphere of the time as well as giving a tribute to hard-boiled detective novels. But, I tell you, if Hammett and Chandler had written like Bradbury I would be a hard-boiled fan instead of hooked on British Golden Age. Well, maybe. He uses their style, but twists it to display his own particular Bradburian flair. His descriptions echo the hard-boiled era but the exaggerations sound so m Finished up Death Is a Lonely Business--Ray Bradbury's 1985 non-SF novel. Set in 1949, this novel evokes the atmosphere of the time as well as giving a tribute to hard-boiled detective novels. But, I tell you, if Hammett and Chandler had written like Bradbury I would be a hard-boiled fan instead of hooked on British Golden Age. Well, maybe. He uses their style, but twists it to display his own particular Bradburian flair. His descriptions echo the hard-boiled era but the exaggerations sound so much more believable flowing from his pen..."No sooner had I hit the back seat than the limousine swerved in one boa-constrictor glide away from the curb." and "I waited a full minute for something to happen. When it did not, I slid out of the back of the limousine, like a shoplifter, guilty for no reason and wondering whether to escape." I love Bradbury. I love his way with words, and turns of phrases, and characters, and setting, and mood. The man can write. In this one, he had me from the fourth paragraph when our narrator/protagonist meets up with Death's friend on an old red trolley. Death is visiting the citizens of Venice, California and the protagonist finds himself in game of hide and seek that seems to be leaving all his friends and acquaintances at the mercy of the stalking shadow. He aligns himself with detective Elmo Crumley, who isn't quite sure if his young friend is quite sane. Whispery breathing on stairways? Dripping visitors beneath his window who leave behind seaweed? Shadows that follow but disappear like the morning mist? The plot line is a bit shaky...disappearing in the mist at times like the shadowy character of Death's friend, but his descriptions are solid and the clues are there if the reader is quick enough to spot them. His characters are real and you feel the unnamed hero's frustration and fear as he tries to figure out who is next on Death's list and unmask the killer before he claims all his victims. This review was first posted on my blog My Reader's Block. Please request permission before reposting any portion. Thanks.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Williwaw

    I decided that I'm in the mood for a hard-boiled detective story. And I haven't read a Bradbury novel in a long, long time. Supposedly, the main character is based on some of Bradbury's own experiences while he was rising through the ranks of pulp fiction writers in the 1940's. Update: I'm about 60 pages from the end, and I must admit, I'm having trouble getting through this book. Bradbury has populated his book with characters who are interesting, if not borderline preposterous. The same goes fo I decided that I'm in the mood for a hard-boiled detective story. And I haven't read a Bradbury novel in a long, long time. Supposedly, the main character is based on some of Bradbury's own experiences while he was rising through the ranks of pulp fiction writers in the 1940's. Update: I'm about 60 pages from the end, and I must admit, I'm having trouble getting through this book. Bradbury has populated his book with characters who are interesting, if not borderline preposterous. The same goes for the dialog. A little too colorful to be believable. I was hoping that this would have more the character of hard-boiled fiction (a la Hammett or Chandler). The great thing about those writers and their ilk is that they could write in a terse, matter-of-fact, muscular style. Their characters had feelings, sure, but they avoided expressing them. So when the expression came out, it was all the more poignant. Bradbury violates the rules of hard-boiled fiction by reveling, if not blubbering, in emotional expression. I'm not saying that this book is lacking in interest, but I am saying that maybe Bradbury tried too hard to make it work on too many different levels. What he ends up with is rich, but slow-moving. Nothing much happens, but we sure meet a lot of different characters who effusively express themselves about a whole lot of nothing. Overall, a disappointing read. It has none of the magic that I found in The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Fahrenheit 451, etc.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    I had to reread Fahrenheit 451 to help my granddaughter write a paper, and I enjoyed it again; so I decided to try this newer Bradbury. Knowing that science fiction, horror, and supernatural are my very least favorite literature genres, I still gave it a shot. I gave up on it after about 4 chapters. All fluff - no substance. There seemed to be no plotline - just a lot of well-written scary language. I couldn't help comparing it to a sermon I heard the day before I tried reading the book. The pre I had to reread Fahrenheit 451 to help my granddaughter write a paper, and I enjoyed it again; so I decided to try this newer Bradbury. Knowing that science fiction, horror, and supernatural are my very least favorite literature genres, I still gave it a shot. I gave up on it after about 4 chapters. All fluff - no substance. There seemed to be no plotline - just a lot of well-written scary language. I couldn't help comparing it to a sermon I heard the day before I tried reading the book. The preacher in question wanted to convey some important lessons, but one had to struggle to stay interested to pick the great truths from the boring presentation. Bradbury was right the opposite, but somehow the same,in this book. The language was enthralling, but one had to work too hard to find an actual story hidden inside the exaggerated prose.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rick Davis

    Ray Bradbury's delicious, sentimental prose is expended well here in the service of a noirish mystery. Man can he write.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    Death Is a Lonely Business Ray Bradbury 278 pages, read it in paperback. Ooh la la, a Noir set in 1949 Venice, California. Yes please. I found this at a local book store in downtown Issaquah. I don't remember the name of the place but there are always books piled on the floor in boxes and if I am lucky I get the owner. The owner is helpful and nice, as well as his daughter. His wife and son on the other hand are usually less than helpful. Nonetheless here I was perusing the wares scattered across t Death Is a Lonely Business Ray Bradbury 278 pages, read it in paperback. Ooh la la, a Noir set in 1949 Venice, California. Yes please. I found this at a local book store in downtown Issaquah. I don't remember the name of the place but there are always books piled on the floor in boxes and if I am lucky I get the owner. The owner is helpful and nice, as well as his daughter. His wife and son on the other hand are usually less than helpful. Nonetheless here I was perusing the wares scattered across the floor when I came upon this, my first Ray Bradbury book. While I should have probably started on his classic title 'Fahrenheit 451' I chose to dive into this instead. I was excited to find out that Bradbury is still alive and kicking at the age of 91. The story itself follows a young writer whose name is never given as he attempts to find a killer in Venice. The character seems a lot like Bradbury, as I pour over his Wiki article. Some have even hypothesized that it is a loose interpretation of himself. Along the way we meet plenty of eccentric people who help as they can or are simply wrapped up in the mystery, or are even potential victims of the killer. One thing that all of the victims have in common is that they are crumbling just as the Venice pier and that all of the deaths are presumed accidents. Along the way the main character enlists the help of a detective who helps steer the story along and also provides some entertaining wit to the story. The interactions between the detective and the character being some of my favorite passages in this novel. It closed nicely and I was happy with the read. I was a rather big fan of the style. It is however a piece that takes place in 1949 and most of the music, and cultural references date to the 20's and 30's. It wasn’t so distracting that it took away from the story, I am just not as well versed as I probably should be about that time period. Either way, a quick fun read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mel Bossa

    What a sweet, nostalgic, eccentric read this was. The more Bradbury I read, the more I love him. First and foremost, his sense of humor is so unique and divine, and second, there is no other author in that genre who writes women the way Bradbury does. God, how I love Constance Rattigan in this book. Bradbury always has a very strong female character in his stories and the girls stand on their own as full fledged people. The narrator in this particular story is basically a dream to read: he's qui What a sweet, nostalgic, eccentric read this was. The more Bradbury I read, the more I love him. First and foremost, his sense of humor is so unique and divine, and second, there is no other author in that genre who writes women the way Bradbury does. God, how I love Constance Rattigan in this book. Bradbury always has a very strong female character in his stories and the girls stand on their own as full fledged people. The narrator in this particular story is basically a dream to read: he's quiet, funny, sensitive, melodramatic, awkward, and curious. Set in Venice in 1949 as the Pier is being destroyed, Bradbury tells the story of a dying era through a straightforward sort of whodunit intrigue. The characters are all bigger than life, and I cared about them all very much--especially Henry, the Blind man. Tarot reading shrinks, retired Silver Screen Goddesses who pose as their own chauffeur and maids, queer actors whose seventy-year-old body won't age, 380 pound Opera Divas who live off mayonnaise, barbers who play the piano as badly as they cut hair, and a detective who doesn't trust anything but his typewriter...And of course, always, Death. But in this case, Death smells like armpits.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Carlos

    Ray Bradbury is a skilled author. One of his best talents is stringing an engaging story, which twists just when you think you're about to be satisfied with a great conclusion into an even better one! This story lives up to that trend. Like much of Ray Bradbury's work it is marked by weirdness and wonder; a little more weird and it's pure fantasy, a little less and it's autobiography. Bradbury's mix makes for an fast-paced and thoroughly enjoyable read!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bettie☯

    Bettie's Books

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marc Gerstein

    Bradbury is a science fiction author, and an exceptional one at that. Later in life though, he dabbled in mystery fiction, his homage the noir authors he admired. “Death is a Lonely Business” is one of those works, perhaps, I believe, the first. On the good side, Bradbury’s talent for storytelling, and his willingness to push the envelope are very visible here. The cast of characters is unforgettable, the WTF twists in the story are a delight, and his inventive multilayered craftsmanship (a whodu Bradbury is a science fiction author, and an exceptional one at that. Later in life though, he dabbled in mystery fiction, his homage the noir authors he admired. “Death is a Lonely Business” is one of those works, perhaps, I believe, the first. On the good side, Bradbury’s talent for storytelling, and his willingness to push the envelope are very visible here. The cast of characters is unforgettable, the WTF twists in the story are a delight, and his inventive multilayered craftsmanship (a whodunit, layered with bits pf coming of age, bromance, the politics of urban renewal and a dash of almost-meta-fiction) are impressive as is his challenging of an important premise of the crime solver genre; Bradbury’s un-named protagonist, said to represent himself, is all hunch, all intuition; in terms of logic, it seems like he’d have a meltdown if asked to contemplate if-A-then-B etc. (I was going to give this three stars -- see below -- but as I wrote the above, I convinced myself to add a fourth.) The one drawback here, for me, is Bradbury’s effort at the noir style. I get that he admires it. I, too, admire lots of things but that doesn’t mean you necessarily want to see me try to do them. (Take my word for it.) I wish Bradbury had considered noir in the same spirit.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Ferenbach

    This is a very strange book. I like Ray Bradbury and have read some of his more Sci-Fi works. I liked the idea that this was a Noir Mystery story At points in the book I was trying to figure out whether the protagonist was meant to be insane, going insane or just occasionally hallucinating. I stuck with it but I can safely say at some points I was just hoping that it reached some sort of conclusion, or it was going to go all sci-fi and it was actually a time travelling robot assassin doing all the This is a very strange book. I like Ray Bradbury and have read some of his more Sci-Fi works. I liked the idea that this was a Noir Mystery story At points in the book I was trying to figure out whether the protagonist was meant to be insane, going insane or just occasionally hallucinating. I stuck with it but I can safely say at some points I was just hoping that it reached some sort of conclusion, or it was going to go all sci-fi and it was actually a time travelling robot assassin doing all the murdering. It does reach a conclusion, but I didn't enjoy this anywhere near as much as his other works and I am not rushing to read the two sequels. Also if you fancy a really brilliant piece of Noir then read the book whose title is literally "Noir" by Christopher Moore - it is fantastic

  21. 5 out of 5

    David Wagner

    One of the strangest mysteries I've ever read. Bradbury's fantastical writing style draws you in immediately and has you marveling over sentence after sentence. It had been years since I read anything by him, and now I want to go back and re-read other books by him.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    Ray Bradbury is a writer I'll read just for the prose style, but this was a weird one: a retro murder mystery that seems to star a younger version of the author. It was fun spotting the references to Bradbury's short stories, but I didn't go a bundle on the mystery itself.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Deanne

    Bradbury always automatically gets 4 stars. This book gets an extra star for being a mystery. And for unique characterization.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    A mystery novel told in typical Bradbury style. It's a relatively standard whodunit plot with a few great characters, but as always the allure is the author's masterful way with language. I'd recommend this for fans of Mr. Bradbury's writing style looking for something a little bit different, with an unnamed protagonist who of course resembles the man himself. There are even a few allusions to short stories he's actually published.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kiana Cook

    I know some people worship Ray Bradbury, but I’m neither here nor there with him. Although I loved Fahrenheit 451 and enjoyed Dandelion Wine, I wouldn’t call him one of my favorites. I’m also not a huge fan of the mystery genre, which is probably why this book doesn’t stick with me in the way his other books have. But for the mystery lovers, Death is a Lonely Business will be a treat. It’s very well-written, the plot steadily builds to the thrilling showdown, and the story keeps the readers gu I know some people worship Ray Bradbury, but I’m neither here nor there with him. Although I loved Fahrenheit 451 and enjoyed Dandelion Wine, I wouldn’t call him one of my favorites. I’m also not a huge fan of the mystery genre, which is probably why this book doesn’t stick with me in the way his other books have. But for the mystery lovers, Death is a Lonely Business will be a treat. It’s very well-written, the plot steadily builds to the thrilling showdown, and the story keeps the readers guessing about what actually happened. The eerie setting largely contributes to this. I loved Bradbury’s foggy, depressing Venice Beach that houses the Lonelies. It was described in such a creepy, otherworldly way and surrounded the characters with perpetual foreboding and gloom. The setting was easily the biggest character in this novel. The characters themselves were kind of iffy. The protagonist was a little too sensitive and despairing for me. I know the main characters in Fahrenheit 451 and Dandelion Wine were like this as well—they felt everything a little too strongly, they lived in worlds of their own creation, they often immerse themselves in their own misery—but while I appreciated this technique in those novels, it bothered me here. The supporting characters were way better—Constance and Crumley and Henry are the winners that will make their ways into your heart. The development of Crumley and the protagonist’s relationship was also one of the highlights of the novels, and I liked Bradbury’s insights on the writing process. Bradbury is one of those writers who has a very distinct style, and Death is a Lonely Business is infused with the same dreaminess and mystery that his other books have. A lot of things are open to interpretation, the writing is pleasant, things aren’t quite literal and cohesive, and the entire reading experience seems a little surreal. But for the bigger mystery and Bradbury fans, this will be a complete treat. Haunting and fascinating, Death is a Lonely Business is another classic Ray Bradbury novel carried out in his signature voice. 3 stars.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mark Oppenlander

    I found it a little unsettling that at the moment of Ray Bradbury's death, this particular book was sitting by my bedside. Of all of his books to have on hand, why this one? I found it even more disconcerting to realize that this mystery novel is partially autobiographical. The unnamed narrator is a 20-something writer living in Venice Beach, California during the late 1940's. How strange a coincidence is that? As for the book itself, the plot is straightforward: The starving-artist writer uncove I found it a little unsettling that at the moment of Ray Bradbury's death, this particular book was sitting by my bedside. Of all of his books to have on hand, why this one? I found it even more disconcerting to realize that this mystery novel is partially autobiographical. The unnamed narrator is a 20-something writer living in Venice Beach, California during the late 1940's. How strange a coincidence is that? As for the book itself, the plot is straightforward: The starving-artist writer uncovers some strange circumstances surrounding the deaths of several of the locals and then enlists the aid of a police detective when he thinks that there may be foul play involved. As a mystery, this is better than the short stories in the "A Memory of Murder" collection, perhaps in part because Bradbury is more true to himself here. The characters are bizarre or earthy or creepy, the ambience ranges from earnest to eerie to mystical and the plot is episodic. In addition, there is the fun for the Bradbury aficionado of finding references to his other works buried in this one. There is a sly wit to this book that is not always present in Bradbury and which adds another layer of intrigue to things. The final resolution of the book is reasonably satisfying, if not overwhelmingly so. This is not Bradbury at his best, but it is decent and enjoyable for its unique qualities within his oeuvre. RIP to one of the best fantasy and science fiction writers in the business.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Ray Bradbury has a fascinating style of writing, that is very detailed and as vibrant as it is strange. This was no exception! So it wasn't very sci-fi, except for the fact that the narrator is a sci-fi writer in Venice Beach, CA. It is a fast-paced journey through the dying seaside community with it's quirky residences on the trail of a killer. Towards the end I was almost believing there was no killer, just a existential author chasing ghosts. Turns out there was a hands off killer collecting Ray Bradbury has a fascinating style of writing, that is very detailed and as vibrant as it is strange. This was no exception! So it wasn't very sci-fi, except for the fact that the narrator is a sci-fi writer in Venice Beach, CA. It is a fast-paced journey through the dying seaside community with it's quirky residences on the trail of a killer. Towards the end I was almost believing there was no killer, just a existential author chasing ghosts. Turns out there was a hands off killer collecting trophies of his victims.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Artemis

    I would have given this 5/5 if only the motives were more clear and the ending was more logical. I found the characters very likeable and the descriptions - quite imaginative, but the whole time I felt like the story lacked deaph and credibility. However, it still was an interesting read, so if you like spooky mysteries, you should definitely give it a shot.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    Bradbury strikes a perfect blend of surreal and fantasy with more than just a bit of hard-boiled noir in this, the first of his Crumley Mysteries. The story is unique. Bradbury's observations are, as always, entertaining. In his description of the scenes, Bradbury makes you feel the grit and oily decay. The cast of characters is colorful. This one hit spot on! 5 STARS

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kaethe Douglas

    Bradbury does hardboiled with a melancholy tone.

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