Death Is a Lonely Business is a novel by the famous sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury, published in 1985. Bradbury didn't always write sci-fi, despite that is what he is most remembered for. However, Death Is A Lonely Business stands out among his pantheon of novels, not only because it wasn't a sci-fi novel, but because is was the first novel Bradbury had published since Something Wicked This Way Comes in 1962. It was a homage, a different sense of direction, but in its deepest essence it was all Bradbury.
The novel plays with the pulp fiction, film noire, hard-boiled detective novel genre. It gives absolute direct nods to writers like Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. Placing it very much in that genre of fiction writing. Death Is A Lonely Business is Bradbury breaking the mould, and moving in to the well trodden path of detective mystery novel. A genre he is well suited for, and pulls off beautifully. A strange little novel, that draws you in and takes you to places you never expected.
Being set on a decaying seaside, it shares in some ways the essence of a dark decaying carnival feel that Something Wicked This Way Comes did. And like Something Wicked... is a brooding piece of literature. The main character struggles to deal with the decay, the dilapidated society that surrounds him. He's a writer (like Bradbury), of pulp novels. He struggles to make writing his stock in trade. He's had a few sales of his work, but generally he is currently a failed writer. Depressed, he fits in despite fighting against it, with the freaks and weirdos that inhabit the the novel. That inhabit the derelict pier and generally dark and forgotten area that the novel is set.
I'll say no more and give nothing else away. Least to say, as a huge fan of Ray Bradbury, Death Is A Lonely Business is a novel I approach with trepidation. Knowing it was outside of what I expected from the great man, it delivered prime Bradbury in spades. Harking back in style to the classic little known short stories of his I had read, reread and loved while no-one else had. Bradbury could set a scene, describe it in the most wonderfully rich and dark detail. Immerse you as a reader in that slightly out of kilter other place and make you feel comfortable with it, and yet sacred to turn your back at the same time. Death Is A Lonely Business is Bradbury at the the very peak of his craft. And unfortunately a novel that one of the greatest writers in American literary history is not well known for. As a fan of Bradbury, of mystery, of just great literature. I urge you to seek it out.