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Disciple of the Dog [Paperback]

Scott Bakker
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Sep 2011

Disciple Manning is able to recall every conversation, meeting and feeling he has ever had, making him an extremely dangerous private investigator. When a young woman disappears from a religious cult, her parents turn to Manning for help. Manning accepts, but with a chilling sense of foreboding.

Heading into the heart of the cult, he encounters its beguiling leader, obsessed with the idea that the world is a fantastical theatre, in which we merely act out our roles, ignorant of our true existence beyond; a belief he is intent on protecting, at any cost. Manning's investigation soon leads to clashes with the cult's unsettling belief systems and leaves him fighting for survival and elusive answers. Meanwhile, it's only a matter of time before the missing girl risks being abandoned for ever to the depths of everyone's forgotten memories¿

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (1 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1409121038
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409121039
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 877,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

The dark new thriller from the author of NEUROPATH.

About the Author

Scott Bakker is the son of a tobacco share-cropper. He spent his youth either exploring the wooded bluffs of Lake Erie's north shore or working in hot summer fields. He left the countryside to study English language and literature at the University of Western Ontario, and from there moved to Nashville to pursue a PhD in philosophy. He now lives in London, Ontario.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent thriller 18 Oct 2010
Bakker's previous thriller NEUROPATH is one of my favorite novels, so my expectations for this novel were very high. In retrospect, higher than the book could ever have lived up to. But it's still a fine novel.

The most striking thing about the book is its protagonist, Disciple Manning. (What's up with Bakker's implausibly-named main characters anyway?) He narrates the book first person, bringing us very to close to him. And to be fair, he's a jerk. Having a perfect memory makes him see all the patterns in human behavior. He can't really make friends or sustain a relationship because people bore him intensely. No doubt Bakker intended Disciple to be unlikeable, but it probably will be a hurdle for many readers. The concept of a character with perfect recall does enable Bakker to make some profound reflections on human interaction and belief.

Once you get past Disciple's attitude, the novel is quite enjoyable, and like Neuropath, utterly uncompromising. If i have to name a flaw, it would be the book's length. It is simply too short. Bakker is better known for writing huge fantasy novels, and one gets the feeling that this was a breather project for him. Had the novel been longer, he could have explored the Framers' belief system more - which is interesting, but we learn too little about it.

All in all, I would recommend giving this book a go. For all its flaws, it will make you think.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing and excellent 10 Jun 2013
By 75Kg
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed reading this book. I loved the concept of a man who couldn't forget. His wicked character (male chauvinistic it has to be said, ladies) had me chuckling to myself. The wife would ask as to the why but I could not, nor would I explain - that would have ended in a half hour discussion. You either like this type of dry humour or you don't. I like a book that can take me somewhere beyond my own imagination and this book did. Well written, clearly tongue in cheek for sure. A refreshingly good read. I look forward to reading it again in a few years when I've forgotten the details. I liked this book so much that I also bought it to send to a few friends who I know will appreciate it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Really nice... 31 May 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A sociopath that remembers everything? I liked it! A rather short intensive crime story with a strange hero. I've read Bakker
excellent fantasy books and this is also very enjoyable.(Even better than "Neuropath")
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bakker's most accessible work yet 25 Nov 2010
By Boblin
Disciple Manning is a jerk. But a very entertaining, interesting and intelligent jerk. If you can live with that, you will probably enjoy this book, a very well paced thought-provoking thriller with a few good twists.

If you can't stand Disciple, you certainly won't like the book either, since he is the narrator.

Some of the themes regarding consciousness, memory and irrational human behaviour have been explored by Bakker in his earlier books, and if you (like me) follow his excellent "Second Apocalypse" fantasy sequence you will be familiar with many of the ideas, though they are presented in a different way here.

My only gripes are the ending, which felt somewhat too brief, and that Mr. Bakker's philosophical and cognitive points feel repetitive after a while. That might be due to me having been exposed to said points before through his other writings, though.

All in all, a very decent thriller that makes you think.
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Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cults, neo-Nazis, gorgeous young women, and a detective who can never forget 2 Oct 2011
By Mal Warwick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If Philip Marlowe were to roam the back streets of today's cities, he might bear at least a slight resemblance to Disciple Manning, the protagonist of R. Scott Bakker's mystery novel, Disciple of the Dog. They're both tough-talking tough guys with a special affinity for the dark recesses of society. Manning is a troubled ex-soldier -- he fought in Iraq in the first Gulf War -- with a ceaseless hunger for pot and sex. He is, of course, fiendishly handsome, but he still manages to alienate women with his crude and usually unwelcome honesty.

However, Manning's most notable distinguishing feature is his memory, which sets him apart from Philip Marlowe and, apparently, the rest of the human race as well. It's been the subject of university lab tests for many years: he cannot forget ANYTHING. Now, this is not your run-of-the-mill eidetic memory, which is fundamentally visual. In fact, his memory of the written word doesn't seem to be the equal of his memory of the conversations and confrontations he's had in the course of three decades of a topsy-turvy life. He remembers everything ever said to him by anybody. Everything. Everybody. And not just the words, but the expressions, the body language, the intonation, and the context, including everyone else in the picture.

Disciple Manning is not a happy man. In fact, from time to time he despairs of humanity, having what he believes to be a far more accurate picture of human behavior than just about anyone else, and as a result has slit his wrists on several occasions. Somehow, though, he manages to pull through.

In Disciple of the Dog, Manning is hired by the wealthy parents of a 21-year-old woman who has disappeared from the cult headquarters where she's been living for two years. The scene is a small town in rural Pennsylvania, a former industrial center now shrunk to a fraction of its previous size. In the course of investigating the cult, a small operation led by a former UC Berkeley professor of . . . guess what? cults . . . Manning encounters another unusual organization that has set down roots in the same town. It's a neo-Nazi "church" led by a clique of ex-cons from the Aryan Brotherhood, and it appears to own the town. Manning rockets between believing that first one, then the other of these evil-seeming organizations is responsible for the young woman's disappearance and, he firmly believes, her death.

Bakker's writing style is lively, to say the least. The tale is told in Manning's interior voice, which is rich with imagery, profane, and endlessly engaging. The story is intricately plotted, though that's difficult for the reader to see until Manning reveals key points in retrospect as he sorts through his memories. The book is full of surprises. It's a lot of fun.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A blast from start to finish 23 Nov 2010
By Stefan - Published on Amazon.com
Disciple of the Dog is R. Scott Bakker's second non-fantasy novel (after 2008's Neuropath). While most fantasy readers are probably still most familiar with the author for his Second Apocalypse series, venturing out of the fantasy genre for this noir-ish detective novel is an excellent idea because it's an entertaining and unique read that will keep you fascinated to the very end.

The novel's two main attractions are its protagonist, Disciple ("Diss") Manning, and its prose. As for the first, Disciple is a foul-mouthed, highly cynical, down-on-his-luck private detective with a unique ability: he is unable to forget anything he's heard. Regardless (or thanks to) this gift (or curse), he is a grim, misanthropic serial womanizer who'd rather be brutally honest and say "oh well" later than compromise now. While cynical, jaded private eyes aren't anything new, R. Scott Bakker takes things to an entirely new level here. Let's just say that if you don't enjoy books with unlikable main characters, Disciple of the Dog isn't for you.

However, Disciple's attitude leads directly to the second big strength of this novel: the prose. Disciple of the Dog sounds as if it's narrated by the late, great George Carlin at his sharpest and darkest. Disciple's observations are often incisive, very funny and painfully true. While the novel has a solid missing person/whodunnit plot, the true pleasure of reading it is the fact that there's a quotable line on every page. Diss's unique ability also leads to an interesting narrative device: he can "play back" conversations in his mind. As the plot develops, some of those earlier conversations take on new meanings or reveal additional details.

As for the plot: two distraught parents hire Disciple to look for their missing daughter, Jennifer Bonjour. Complicating the case is the fact that "Dead Jennifer" (as Diss affectionately calls her) was a member of a bizarre charismatic cult called the Framers, who believe that what we perceive as reality is actually an illusion, and that we live five billion years in our own future. Diss teams up with a journalist (after he tries to seduce her, of course) to investigate the cult and the circumstances of Jennifer's disappearance.

In the end, Disciple of the Dog is more interesting as a look into the life and mind of Diss Manning than as an actual murder mystery, but the novel's plot does have a few surprising twists that'll keep you guessing until the very end. Thanks to Diss Manning's dark but often funny tone, this book is simply a blast from start to finish. If you're in the mood for a noir-ish detective novel with a fascinating, highly cynical main character, grab a copy of Disciple of the Dog.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Entertaining Stroll through Cultist Lane 4 Oct 2012
By C. Galford - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
An amusing mystery piece, through and through. A good mix of thrills, humor, and personality. Not my favorite entry into the genre - certain aspects of the main character's personality got more than a touch grating at times (they were supposed to, by the by) - but it was a well-written, engaging read, with enough twists in the case to keep you going into the night. Plus, in true Bakker form, it trickled in here and there little touches of his philosophical notations. Much less so than in his Prince of Nothing series, of course, and in different form, but it makes for an interesting - if dark - addition to the piece.

All around? Short, engaging, and entertaining.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Crisp little mystery story with an interesting gimmick, holds up in retrospect 14 Oct 2013
By Richard Hughes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a solid little mystery novel. The gimmick, where the main character does not - cannot - forget anything he has ever experienced, is realized effectively and contributes to the plot without dominating it.

It does have R. Scott Bakker's usual problem, where all relationships between men and women are sexually focused to the point of it being creepy to read. But if you're a fan of R. Scott Bakker, as I am, you're probably either a-OK with that or resigned to it by now. :D
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Super-Fun, Highly Under-Rated, contemporary detective fiction 11 May 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is great. I bought it on a lark, on a random recommendation and read it simply because they said the author wrote well. What a great choice.

Early in the book I was convinced this was 5-star material. 5-star means classic to me. 4 star means the story is solid enough to be worth re-reading, or it is just damn well-written. This book is both.

The author is an unusually clever writer, and one hell of a sketching storyteller as well.

The protagonist, Disciple, is a mess. He is smart, clever, cynical, and great fun to wander through this story with. His observations are wry and witty. The characters in this story are mostly fun. With the exception that the women are a bit one-dimensional, which makes sense here though because that's how the first-person Protag seems to view women.

There are many, many, clever, catchy, and downright LOL phrases in this book. It has been years since I have highlighted a non-biographical, or non-philosophy/psych book as much as I highlighted this book.

This is a man's book -- for men. I tried to read parts of it to my mother, and a 91 year-old lady that lives with her, and they found it boring. (Yet they both liked "The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo")

So why not 5 stars? Only for a few reasons, most of which would probably be ignored by most readers:

1. The ending felt a bit weak and contrived. The book was sooo good up to this point, and then the ending fizzled into unmemorability/unbelievability for me.

2. Some of the wonderfully-clever phrases in this book are temporal - like his reference to the "Obama of the Cult World". Fun, funny, clever, but won't stand the test of time to make this a classic.

3. The protagonist is a war-vet, gun-toting badass. Who doesn't know anything about guns. The protagonist starts the book with a "colt automatic pistol" and yet, several times while carrying the gun on his person, or in his car - it turns into a "revolver". Perhaps the author was going for some Mickey-Spillane type feel with his gun descriptions but I find it unlikely that a vet of the first Gulf war on would:

+ call a 1911 in 45 ACP a "Colt automatic pistol". That's so 1930's.
+ probably even carry a Colt (brand) 1911, unless that was all they could find
+ triple-tap to the head. Assuming he had the skill to pull off a one-handed triple-tap with a 45; the bullet-catching recipient would likely collapse after the first round unless the bullets deflected off the skull.

The protagonist hails from the unfree-state of NJ, and notes how hard it is to get a handgun in NJ/NY. Which isn't entirely true. NYC, yes. Expensive, yes. Hard - not unless you have a criminal record. (edit/update: I have since looked into handgun laws in NJ and while the author exaggerates a bit they are indeed draconian compared to the rest of the free states)

::Plot Hint possible Spoiler::

And why didn't he just ditch the barrel? Removal of the barrel renders a 1911 forensically useless, and the barrel is trivial to replace. Maybe because it was a union-made Colt 1911 from the 80's, and he knew it wasn't worth keeping? :)

4. The protagonist is a martial-arts badass. War vet, boxer, etc. Yet, when faced with Uber Badass Nazis, pulls out his.....Aikido? The author calls it jujutsu, but I don't know of any jujutsu where you take a man down by one arm and "remain standing calmly". That's Aikido nonsense (and bad Aikido at that). He should have been at least kneeling on the Bad Guy holding an arm or shoulder lock.

It would have been much more believable if, somewhere in the book, he had properly beaten the crap out of someone, instead of just talking about it, repeatedly, and with bravado. And then when the times comes for him to be a Bad Ass - he winds up pulling out completely pussy, un-real-world-workable Aikido. Bleh.

See? I told you most of my complaints are petty. :)

Complaints aside - this is a solid story from a very clever and talented writer. I highly recommend giving this a spin!
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