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I haven't read a single Harry Potter book, nor have I watched the movies. Wizards just aren't my thing. But when Harry and his friends grew up and JK Rowling decided to write something different, I put it on my list. After all, how could millions of Potter fans be wrong? They weren't wrong. The Casual Vacancy is beautifully written, with obvious care and love. That said, it's not a story with a beginning a middle and an end. Rather, it is a sketch of a small town with an ensemble cast whose relative station in the small society has no bearing on how flawed they are -- and everyone is pretty-well flawed, although some have better excuses than others. There is female pedophilia (albeit unconsummated), child abuse, spouse abuse, bullying, drug abuse, rape, but surprisingly no murder. There are so many characters I got confused about who was who, but after about 300 pages (which the lovely writing got me through) the characters suddenly became clear. I was busy with work and therefore read the book in fits and starts, so that may have affected how difficult it was for me to keep things straight. A reference list of the characters is here: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/The_Casual_Vacancy#Characters Introducing so many characters, even in a 500-page tome, makes it difficult to know any one of them very well. Here are the ones that I remember best: a. Howard Mollison : The town's main power broker, an obese deli-owner and father of Miles, cardizem 30mg pills $69.00 who stands for and wins the city council seat vacated by Barry's sudden death. Howard's weight gives him breathing problems, heart attacks, and a stubborn rash that grows in the hidden crevices of flesh. Fat as he is, he apparently manages to have an affair with his female business partner. b. Samantha Mollison : Miles' wife, Howard's daughter-in-law, who has a penchant for young boys that goes unsatisfied save for getting drunk and kissing a 16-year-old, which [cardizem 30mg pills $69.00] she notes is legal. c. Krystal Weedon : Daughter of a heroin addict, sister-mother to the toddler Robbie, who tromps around in a sodden diaper. In a twisted effort to get her brother away from their mother, she decides to get pregnant, which will force the government to give her her own apartment. She tells the toddler to wait as she shags a boy (Fats) behind a bush, but the little boy gets distracted after finishing the candy she's bought him, wanders off, and winds up drowning in the rushing river. d. Stuart "Fats" Wall : Friend of Andrew Price, his relationship with the lower-class Krystal horrifies his parents. His father is a school administrator. He has a sort of "natural born killers" philosophy: To thine own self be true, even if you're a bastard. e. Andrew Price : Son of Simon Price, a huckster who decides to run for Barry's council seat to enjoy the graft he assumes is part of the deal. Simon abuses his wife and children. Fats breaks into the city website and, assuming the role of the Ghost_of_Barry_Fairbrother, posts a message that gets his father sacked. f. Kay Bowden, who follows a love interest (Gavin) to the small town only to get dumped by him. Andrew is sweet on Kay's beautiful daughter, Gaia, who hates the little town. g. Gavin Hughes, Barry's friend, who falls in love with Barry's wife, Mary, after Barry's death. He breaks up with Kay and then Mary rejects him. h. Sukhvinder Jawanda, daughter of a surgeon and a doctor, a black sheep who gains credibility when she tries to save the drowning Robbie. That said, I don't feel like I know any of the characters that well, although I wouldn't mind reading more about them. Cardizem 30mg pills $69.00 in that way, the casual vacancy, felt like an introduction to a town about which much more could be said. My nits: 1. A lifetime ago, a different Harry (Crews) beat into me and his other writing students that if you fail to bring a character to life before you kill him, no reader will care. Of course cardizem 30mg pills $69.00, every Law and Order episode ever written violates this rule, and so does The Casual Vacancy, which opens with the sudden death of one of the town's leaders, Barry Fairbrother. Even the deaths of Robbie and Krystal -- which come at the very end -- meant little to me. Krystal's overdosing on her mother's heroin also was hard to believe, considering how much she hated her mother using. 2. One chapter ends with Andrew (or was it his friend Fats?) showing his father how to break into the city's website and become The_Ghost_of_Barry_Fairbrother. The implication was that we'd return to the scene. We never do. 3. I felt like I was being told how people felt, and why, rather than being shown. Then again, the book might have been 1, 000 pages had she tried to cram in that much detail about so many characters. 4. I could, perhaps, buy one character in a small town knowing about SQL Injection, but three? 5. Does every last character need to be so flawed? There are good people in the world, aren't there?