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The Crook Factory Hardcover – Mar 1999


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 436 pages
  • Publisher: Avon Books (Mar 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380973685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380973682
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 16.5 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 604,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dan Simmons was born in Peoria, Illinois, in 1948, and grew up in various cities and small towns in the Midwest, including Brimfield, Illinois, which was the source of his fictional "Elm Haven" in 1991's SUMMER OF NIGHT and 2002's A WINTER HAUNTING. Dan received a B.A. in English from Wabash College in 1970, winning a national Phi Beta Kappa Award during his senior year for excellence in fiction, journalism and art.

Dan received his Masters in Education from Washington University in St. Louis in 1971. He then worked in elementary education for 18 years -- 2 years in Missouri, 2 years in Buffalo, New York -- one year as a specially trained BOCES "resource teacher" and another as a sixth-grade teacher -- and 14 years in Colorado.

His last four years in teaching were spent creating, coordinating, and teaching in APEX, an extensive gifted/talented program serving 19 elementary schools and some 15,000 potential students. During his years of teaching, he won awards from the Colorado Education Association and was a finalist for the Colorado Teacher of the Year. He also worked as a national language-arts consultant, sharing his own "Writing Well" curriculum which he had created for his own classroom. Eleven and twelve-year-old students in Simmons' regular 6th-grade class averaged junior-year in high school writing ability according to annual standardized and holistic writing assessments. Whenever someone says "writing can't be taught," Dan begs to differ and has the track record to prove it. Since becoming a full-time writer, Dan likes to visit college writing classes, has taught in New Hampshire's Odyssey writing program for adults, and is considering hosting his own Windwalker Writers' Workshop.

Dan's first published story appeared on Feb. 15, 1982, the day his daughter, Jane Kathryn, was born. He's always attributed that coincidence to "helping in keeping things in perspective when it comes to the relative importance of writing and life."

Dan has been a full-time writer since 1987 and lives along the Front Range of Colorado -- in the same town where he taught for 14 years -- with his wife, Karen. He sometimes writes at Windwalker -- their mountain property and cabin at 8,400 feet of altitude at the base of the Continental Divide, just south of Rocky Mountain National Park. An 8-ft.-tall sculpture of the Shrike -- a thorned and frightening character from the four Hyperion/Endymion novels -- was sculpted by an ex-student and friend, Clee Richeson, and the sculpture now stands guard near the isolated cabin.

Dan is one of the few novelists whose work spans the genres of fantasy, science fiction, horror, suspense, historical fiction, noir crime fiction, and mainstream literary fiction . His books are published in 27 foreign counties as well as the U.S. and Canada.

Many of Dan's books and stories have been optioned for film, including SONG OF KALI, DROOD, THE CROOK FACTORY, and others. Some, such as the four HYPERION novels and single Hyperion-universe novella "Orphans of the Helix", and CARRION COMFORT have been purchased (the Hyperion books by Warner Brothers and Graham King Films, CARRION COMFORT by European filmmaker Casta Gavras's company) and are in pre-production. Director Scott Derrickson ("The Day the Earth Stood Stood Still") has been announced as the director for the Hyperion movie and Casta Gavras's son has been put at the helm of the French production of Carrion Comfort. Current discussions for other possible options include THE TERROR. Dan's hardboiled Joe Kurtz novels are currently being looked as the basis for a possible cable TV series.

In 1995, Dan's alma mater, Wabash College, awarded him an honorary doctorate for his contributions in education and writing.

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Synopsis

In 1942, FBI agent Joe Lucas journeys to Cuba in order to keep an eye on Ernest Hemingway, who, with a motley assortment of characters--including an American millionaire, a young Cuban orphan, a Spanish jai alai champ, and a priest--has taken on the self-appointed role of spy.

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HE FINALLY DID IT ON A SUNDAY, JULY 2, 1961, UP IN Idaho, in a new house which, I suspect, meant little to him, but which had a view up a valley to the high peaks, down the valley to the river, and across the valley to a cemetery where friends were buried. Read the first page
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Feb 1999
Format: Hardcover
(from "The San Antonio Express-News," Feb '99) Writer sui generis Dan Simmons refuses to be pigeon-holed. His first novel ("Song of Kali," a psychological thriller) garnered a World Fantasy Award. Horror novels like "Carrion Comfort" and "Summer of Night" earned awards and admiration from peers like Stephen King and Dean Koontz. And his critically acclaimed, award winning quartet of SF ("Hyperion, "The Fall of Hyperion," "Endymion" and "The Rise of Endymion") are perennial bestsellers that have cemented his reputation in that genre. Not one to rest on his laurels, Simmons new novel, "The Crook Factory," explores an entirely different genre: literary espionage. Like those before it, this book is filled with crackerjack writing, a page-turning plot, and characters which will haunt the reader long after the book is finished. Joe Lucas, an amoral special agent in the FBI, finds himself assigned to a case that seems designed as punishment. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover has tasked him with keeping tabs on an amateur spy network in Cuba. The network has been coined "The Crook Factory" by it's ringleader - none other than Ernest Hemingway. Completely unaware of Hemingway's stature and celebrity as a writer (he doesn't read "make believe" books), Lucas' perspective and growing awareness of Hemingway is offered through fresh, unspoiled eyes. Upon reaching Cuba, Lucas is thoroughly unprepared for what he finds. In Hemingway, he discovers a braggart who embellishes upon every life story, and a writer who, despite an awareness of his own talent, constantly questions his own worth.Read more ›
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By A Customer on 3 Feb 1999
Format: Hardcover
From Kirkus: Simmons leaps from fat genre novels suspense/horror/sf fantasy) to fat mainstream historical suspense in retelling the story of Ernest Hemingway's submarine-chasing exploits off Cuba in 1942-43. As is often the case with the author's overplanned and hyperdetailed novels,this one boasts proliferating plots and subplots. At its center lolls the brawnily bravura Falstaffian bully/braggart Hemingway, who at age 43 lives with fourth wife Martha Gellhorn in their finca outside Havana, coasting on the great reviews of For Whom the Bell Tolls from two years earlier and editing his anthology Men at War; Hemingway is also overdrinking and trying to assemble a raggle-taggle spy group (or crook factory) in Havana to support his pursuit of Nazi subs with his famed fishing boat, Pilar, while falling under the spell of the FBI and IRS (who undermine his sanity, causing the paranoia that later leads him to suicide). And that barely scratches the surface. Simmons also takes on Hemingway's sense of "the-true gen''-that is, how things work: guns,boats, boxing, fishing-and rivals him at his own game by creating a smartly characterized narrator, FBI agent Joe Lucas, who reads no fiction, has never read a word of Hemingway, and outsmarts Papa on boats, boxing, guns, and the true gen of spycraft. Simmons claims that ninety-five percent of his book is "true," derived from FBI files. Regardless, though, what helps vastly is that utter pragmatist Joe Lucas, fatally ill, has only nine months to write the book, unburdened by any strivings for an artistic excellence he knows nothing about. Thus when Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman show up to talk about filming For Whom the Bell Tolls, Joe has only the vaguest idea of what's under discussion.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 8 Aug 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Truth is stranger than fiction and if Dan Simmons is to be believed, 95% of the content of the Crook Factory is true. More importantly, its well written, has interesting characters and a compelling plot.
This is (to the best of my knowledge) Dan Simmons first foray into historical fiction and a straight espionage/thriller. Its good to see such a fine author challenge himself by writing outside the fantasy/ horror/ science fiction genres. Its even more pleasant when it is done so well.
Highly recommended.
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By A Customer on 18 April 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have just finished reading this. It was superb and makes me want to read Hemingway and visit Cuba!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Shepherd on 9 May 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Hemingway always liked to present an image of being a 'man's man', and the side of him that acutely observed and recorded those around him and their swirling tide-pool of emotions was normally hidden from view. Simmons, delving deep into the minutia of what is known about the man, managed to catch this ambivalence in this spy-vs-spy novel. Hemingway's braggart, macho face is clearly in evidence, but also much that is deeper: his genuine feelings for his children (and his 'children' were a much larger group than his biological family), his own realistic opinion of both his own and other's writing abilities, his fears and depressions, his charismatic presence, his dominance of almost any group he was part of, his real appreciation of what excellent art is, his total arrogance towards those whom he felt did not meet his standards.
Beyond this fine character portrait, we find a plot that seemingly came strictly from the land of make-believe, that is until you look at the documented facts surrounding the creation and operation of Hemingway's contribution to the WWII effort, his self-named Crook Factory. Nominally a strictly amateur counter-espionage group, which should have occupied the attention of the Washington bureaucrats for all of two minutes, is instead shown here to be the focus of not one but at least four professional intelligence-gathering organizations. Simmons weaves a finely complicated tale within the documented facts, some of which paint a very frightening picture of certain American organizations, and which become even more frightening in light of certain recently passed legislation allowing these organizations even more effectively unsupervised power.
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