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Avg. Rating: 4.25
Mind Games and Deceptions
Miami reporter Matt Cowart receives a letter from Robert Earl Ferguson, a prisoner sitting on Death Row. He says he is innocent of the crime he was convicted for and, after talking to him and doing a little bit of investigating, Matt agrees that Ferguson may have been unfairly treated. He decides to write a story about Ferguson, and it's a good story. Heck, it's so good that he wins a couple of awards. Not only that, but it's convincing enough to get the case reopened.
But'what if he got it wrong! What if he was lied to and was manipulated by a killer into helping him be released from prison.
Suddenly, there is doubt in every piece of evidence and every word of a confession so that Matt finds it difficult to reconcile the possible harm he has done. Added to Matt's woes is another Death Row inmate, a Hannibal Lector type, who has taken it upon himself to play all sorts of mind games with him. In order to ease his mind and try to minimise any damage done by possibly setting a killer free, he teams up with the detective he virtually accused of being dirty and starts investigating the man he helped acquit.
John Katzenbach is a master at putting his characters through psychological turmoil. They're left to wrestle with their consciences as they dwell heavily on the consequences of their actions. It's this inner conflict that dictates the flow of the story and is a remarkably effective tool to build up the feeling of tension. It all adds up to a stunning thriller filled with doubts and blind alleys.
Very Good, Could be Shorter.
This is a creative thriller with good twists and turns in plot. The author is obviously good at characterization, but seems shy about pursuing it, instead worrying too much about storyline. The book would go from 3 to 5 stars if only the best plot elements were retained, and character development were emphasized. And, as always in this genre of mystery/thriller, the ending is wild, unbelievable, confusing, and never really ties up loose ends. Nevertheless, a good read, if only for one to ponder its potential.
Excellent novel, superb theme, talented prose
I was stunned to read the bad reader review of this book -- could it be that the central theme is a bit too difficult for people to comprehend? Theme...yes, IMO this book has a deeply disturbing theme, which has not been recognized by the majority. The disturbing aspect is that a journalist CAN be manipulated; awards are given out based on mistakes; sociopathic serial killers are capable of nothing but murder and deception. The talented Katzenbach writes prose that flies, soars with poetic brilliance; I'd read his work, even if the storyline didn't interest me. I love beautiful prose, even if it's describing gutter-life. Kudos for ALL his books!
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