Books by Randall Silvis

WALKING THE BONES by Randall Silvis
Released: Jan. 23, 2018

"Further evidence, if any was needed, that all the author's heroes are direct descendants of Edgar Allan Poe, whom Silvis' own fictionalizations of (Disquiet Heart, 2002, etc.) successfully dramatized without exorcising."
Will Sgt. Ryan DeMarco, already so traumatized in his first recorded case (Two Days Gone, 2017), ever fully rejoin the human race? Seven dead girls do their best to pull him back in. Read full book review >
TWO DAYS GONE by Randall Silvis
Released: Jan. 10, 2017

"Beneath the momentum of the investigation lies a pervasive sadness that will stick with you long after you've turned the last page."
A Pennsylvania police officer digs deep, then still deeper, into the mystery of an inexplicably slaughtered family. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 6, 2011

"Slow-moving and oppressively portentous, but Silvis (Disquiet Heart, 2002, etc.) worms his way so deep into Charlotte's weariness and despair that the horrific ending comes as almost a relief."
The disappearance of a 12-year-old boy flushes out all manner of secrets in the sleepy farm town of Belinda, Pa. Read full book review >
DISQUIET HEART by Randall Silvis
Released: May 20, 2002

"Moody, emotionally tortured, and convincingly atmospheric, although two-thirds over before Augie's premonitions lead to any detective work. A less capable Poe than in On Night's Shore (2001), but a graphically described descent into his opiate addictions."
Immersed in melancholia and spirits since the death of his child-wife Sissie, Edgar Allan Poe is adrift in Philadelphia until his protégé, Augie Dubbins, 17, arrives with an invitation from Dr. Alfred K. Brunrichter, wealthy head of Pittsburgh's Quintillian Society. Would Poe be his houseguest while delivering lectures to Pittsburgh's cognoscenti? Squabbling over Augie's writing and attempts at independence, Poe and Augie arrive at the Brunrichter mansion, where the doctor, virtually a dopplegänger for Poe, is avid for the two of them to solve the disappearance of six young local ladies, soon to be seven. While Augie makes friends with dock-worker Buck Kemmer and his innocent daughter Susan, the doctor medicates Poe with mind-fogging ether, ending in debauchery after a reading to which Susan had been invited. Augie whisks her home, leaves her, and an hour later she's been violated and gaffed to death. Though the doctor's lies quickly land Augie in prison, he approaches Poe with the aid of Susan's prissy schoolteacher employer and her father, weans him from the ether, and reconnoiters Brunrichter's estate and the dark doings of Tevis, his valet. Taking axes to secret panels and lighting lucifers to illuminate dark passageways, the men are soon awash in heads bottled in formaldehyde and fighting for their lives against Brunrichter, Tevis, and Brother Jarvis, a wacky monk in thrall to Brunrichter. Read full book review >
ON NIGHT’S SHORE by Randall Silvis
Released: Jan. 1, 2001

"Silvis's most memorable creation is Poe himself, a god to his female relatives, a sage to his readers, a burr to literary lights like Fenimore Cooper and Washington Irving, and a nuisance to his harried editors."
Versatile Silvis (Mysticus, 1999, etc.) returns Edgar Allan Poe to his journalistic roots for another look at the real-life origin of his celebrated 1842 story "The Mystery of Marie Rogêt." Read full book review >
DEAD MAN FALLING by Randall Silvis
Released: Sept. 1, 1996

Ever read one of those pregnant paragraphs in the newspaper and become convinced beyond all reasoning that you knew the unidentified people it was about? Diana Westover, lapping up her morning paper, reads a story headlined ``Human Leg Bone Found in Trash,'' and feels suddenly positive that the leg belongs to the half-brother she hasn't seen in two months. The police in bucolic Ormsby, New York, laugh her off, and there isn't a private eye within shouting distance, so when a dismembered arm turns up 90 miles away, she goes to see Mac Parris, a filmmaker who finds wolverines preferable to human subjects. Mac's been in retreat from the human race, in fact, ever since a horrific encounter with a bogus activist left his young wife and son dead 30 years ago. But Diana's certain, in that inscrutable way of hers, that he's the man for the job, and together they trace Tony Jakowski to equally quiet Brazelton, where he evidently got in with the wrong crowd at the public library. Sit still through the lackadaisical, maddeningly intuitive detective work, and you'll get to watch Mac exact a lovingly detailed vengeance for Tony. It's as if Silvis (Under the Rainbow, 1993, etc.) needed to rub his hero raw before allowing him a frightful release. Read full book review >
UNDER THE RAINBOW by Randall Silvis
Released: Dec. 1, 1993

Spare, poignant, sometimes very funny short novel about a gentle bemused man striving to hold onto hope and human bonds and outwit despair; by the author of the mystery An Occasional Hell (1993), etc. Death haunts, or bops, or entices through this quirky, unpretentious exploration of human weakness and mortality. Donald (a photographer who once captured perfect moments of natural beauty), now in his 40s, can't view people or the world without seeing inevitable outcomes of disaster and decay. His 15-year-old son Travis (star student, star athlete, good citizen) is the perfect child—except for his repeated suicide attempts. (No, Travis isn't depressed like Dad; he thinks death is beautiful, a transcendent achievement to add to his list of accomplishments.) Donald has two admitted needs: to protect the people he loves and to find someone to talk to. Who? His beloved wife seems comfortable with the world. His fundamentalist mother-in-law is sufficiently gloomy, but apocalyptic rather than sad. His mean mistress is obsessed with her own corporate success. His closest surviving friend is dying of cancer, a tawdry and arousing experience the friend prefers to go through alone (though he likes to describe the sensations on Donald's phone machine tape). Meanwhile, down in his darkroom, Donald unburdens himself to the projected image of his dead best friend (who has, alarmingly, begun to answer). There will be some uplift in store for this man with a full heart and hyperawareness of limits. A small celebration of human love that never denies unhappy realities: the satire, irony, and exaggeration entertain without undercutting genuine emotion. Read full book review >
AN OCCASIONAL HELL by Randall Silvis
Released: Feb. 1, 1993

Goaded beyond endurance by months of knowing about her husband Alex's Saturday-morning dalliance with waitress Jeri Gillen, Elizabeth Catanzaro phones Jeri's rock-singer husband Rodney to tell him where the couple's enjoying themselves—and a few hours later she's facing police inquiries about Alex's murder and Jeri and Rodney's disappearance. Elizabeth calls Alex's colleague Ernest DeWalt, who retired from private investigations after a shooting left him without working kidneys and then retired from writing crime novels for no special reason. It's a good choice: despite indulging in too many windy reflections about this vale of tears, DeWalt is dogged in nosing out Alex's suspicious actions before his death, and properly intuitive about the elderly Jewett family, who claim they never suspected the weekly trysts on their property over a year and a half. Playwright-novelist Silvis (Excelsior, 1988) settles into the detective genre with unassuming authority and a refreshing lack of condescension. Read full book review >