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The Straw Men Paperback – 7 Apr 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; New Ed edition (7 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006499988
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006499985
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 3.3 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 72,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

With The Straw Men, Michael Marshall Smith moves impressively from being a promising author of surreal mid-list novels which draw equally on sf, fantasy and noir thriller into new and even darker territory.

Teenage Sarah is kidnapped in LA and subjected to the endless mad rants of the man who has nailed her under the floorboards, who is slowly starving her as he has others before. Burned-out cop Zandt, whose own daughter was taken and never seen again, is called back into the investigation by his FBI ex-mistress. Drunken, off-the-rails, ex-CIA Wade investigates the things which do not add up in the deaths of the parents he did not know as well as he thought he did. This is a book whose ambiguously heroic heroes share an almost comic ruthlessness with its villains and yet which never ceases to draw a clear line between the merely wrong and the profoundly wicked. Along the way, both the nature of the underlying conspiracy and the smart moves needed to track it down are created with remorseless ingenuity.

Marshall Smith has the skill to create motives and moves that are at once insane, plausible and contemporary. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

‘Just when you think there’s nothing new under the sun in the world of the suspense novel, along comes one hell of a nasty spider call The Straw Men. It’s brilliantly written and scary as hell. Be the first on your block to stay up all night with this one; it’s a masterpiece, reminding us that even paranoids really do have enemies.’ STEPHEN KING

'A staggering, suspenseful journey through the darkness of American crime … succeeds in revitalising the serial killer novel with assured gusto… A new beginning for a major British writer, whose crime debut instantly moves him into the Thomas Harris division' Guardian

‘Brilliantly plotted, stunningly written … I read this in one go … if this isn't a hit, I am a monkey's uncle. And I don't think I am’. Independent on Sunday

‘Marshall’s descriptions of people and places are memorable and evocative and he has produced and absorbing mystery with a chilling denouement’ Sunday Telegraph

‘The Straw Men is a genuinely original thriller that combines the imagination and darkness of his previous work with bolts of nerve-screaming tension … Think “The X-files” meets “Hannibal”.’ Time Out


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THE FUNERAL WAS A NICE AFFAIR, IN THAT IT was well attended and people dressed appropriately and nobody stood up at any point and said, "You realize this means they're dead." Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By John Bogie on 1 July 2005
Format: Paperback
This is the first Michael Marshall book I have read to date but I can safely say I will endeavour to read more. It is rare to find a book in this genre that is so well written. Keeping the reader gripped with a patchwork of perspectives; it displays the author's obvious intellect and has within it's pages passages that would not look out of place in texts that have theology or psychology as their main theme.
I would thoroughly recommend this book to any reader who enjoys a murder/mystery thriller though would say that it goes way beyond that.
Excellent Mr Marshall! - More books of this quality please.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By C. M. Bennett on 3 Jun. 2006
Format: Paperback
I have to say that i am not a big fan of crime novels but i thought this book was brilliant. I love that it is written from the POV of the main character Ward Hopkins, and although the character doesn't have a squeaky clean past, you can't help but like him. The dialogue is also well written. Some of the one liners that the characters come out with have me in stitches.

I really only bought this book because i bought Blood of Angels and then realised that it was the third in a series, so i had to purchase the other two. I have to say i have not been disappointed once. I am now reading the third book, but have thoroughly enjoyed the others, hence the review. I think all fans of good writing, gripping storylines and believable characters should read them!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 13 Oct. 2002
Format: Hardcover
From the cover and the blurb, I expected more of this book. I am not familiar with the author's other sci-fi work as Michael Marshall Smith, so my expectations were strictly limited to the cover, blurb and word of mouth.
The book starts with an horrific scene of mass murder, which appears unconnected to the two stories that then weave through the next chapters. These two stories also, at first, appear completely unlinked, but eventually link. When linked - Ward & Bobby on the conspiracy of Ward's parents death with Nina & Zandt on the serial murder/young girl abduction - there's a good fast pace to the end.
It's easy to enagage the characters and situation of Ward & Bobby, but Nina's character draws little sympathy and seems almost a cameo. As a result, her relationship with Zandt and their predicament loses momentum and interest.
There are sections of undoubtedly powerful and explosive writing, that will leave you with a dropped jaw. However, as a whole it does not quite gel into the fast paced thriller you might hope for.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Wood on 28 Aug. 2002
Format: Hardcover
Interesting point: most reviewers who view this as a debut novel are giving it 5 stars; those that see it as fourth novel by MMS tend to give it only 4. This strikes me as a sign of just what a great writer he is. Those that are new to him are blown away by The Straw Men, whilst devotees are slightly disappointed that it is only 95% the book it should be.
Personally, I thought it was well worth the read despite the minor qualms. I found the twist at the end was obvious from about a third of the way through, but I did wonder if this is what the author intended. The prose style is, as always, eloquent, witty and intelligent whilst possessing a dark, brutal edge. This, combined with a remarkable imagination, is what keeps me coming back to his books.
This is without doubt the most original crime thriller I have read since Greg Iles' Mortal Fear. It has a plot as complex as Folsom's magnificent The Day After Tomorrow and leaves Thomas Harris standing for believability.
I can't wait for the sequel.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 Mar. 2002
Format: Hardcover
Being a huge fan of MMS's previous works, I delved into my proof copy of Straw Men in earnest. While it bears no resemblance to his previous works in content, you can't miss his solitary unique polished finish. Apparently gearing for the Thomas Harris crowd (according to the jacket), he definitely delivers. Ward Hopkins, basic wanderer in life, discovers his youth was a sham upon his parents "death". He then spends his energies on trying to decipher a cryptic video, apparently left to him by his parents. Zandt, the darkly mysterious former homicide detective is perfectly characterised and believable. The locations are so brilliantly hewn, you feel like you're sitting at a McDonald's in Pennsylvania after a single paragraph. Great in-jokes for anyone on either side of the pond. I still feel Spares was his best achievement but this book was definitely a top-notch read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 28 Dec. 2003
Format: Paperback
I loved this book! From start to finish it keeps you gripped with a different take on the suspense thriller. Twist and turns that will leave you a gasp.
Do you like Harlan Coben? Or Steven King? Then you'll love Straw men, as it combines elements of both.
I shall be on the look out for any future releases by Michael Marshall!.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Holm on 25 Jan. 2003
Format: Hardcover
Previously I read and loved everything by Michael Marshall (Smith) that amazon could get my hands on, and though I had been warned that this was a brand new deal, I was stunned.
The unique sci-fi setting I had come to associate with M.M.S. was gone, the gadgets and AI's gone, the humor...well no...not entirely gone, thank god.
The Straw Men is a darker, more disturbing piece of work that might easily make a brilliant mystery/thriller/suspense movie in the hands of someone like M. Night Shyamalan.
So... after a series of humourous sci-fi jewels, how do you do a 180 degree turn, or at least a 90, without breaking your neck? Read this novel - the question is answered within. Michael Marshall still enhances his sharp perception of human character and enviroment as well as spoken dialogue, he makes us care about his characters.
Once again - read this, and read Only Forward first.
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