The Devil All the Time

The Devil All the Time
Donald Pollock
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Harvill Secker
Thu, 03/11/2011
9781846555411
£12.99

This book features a Virginia and an Ohio their tourist bodies would rather we didn’t know about. It’s a gritty, rural life, where priests are bonkers, everyone knows a hooker or murderer, and anybody and everybody might die by the end of the novel. Throughout, Pollock gives us a brilliantly blasé attitude to death, killing and righteousness.

It’s a well-evoked place and time, and the book comes with only a couple of quandaries; one of those is the cultural references perhaps being a bit too rarefied for the British audience. The other may be a couple of hiccups in the parallel storylines running at different paces, but with the excellent style, use of flashback and interior thought, it seems unlikely that Pollock will have overlooked this.

Such is the weave of multiple characters, from a humble lad whose father forced him to attempt to pray his mother’s cancer away, to serial killers, to corrupt cops, you won’t be surprised when the strands coincide at the end – you will only be entertained by the consequence. However blunt death comes to the pages, enough is left to the imagination, so it doesn’t read as particularly gory.

With all that said, The Devil All the Time is definitely one of those places you’d much prefer to read about than live in.

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