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on 26 May 2017
Another great read and delivery service.
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on 16 February 2011
Streaky bacon is the best way to describe this book, because it's got so much fat in it and not much in the way of quality meat. Forgive the bad analogy, but this really is how it feels. Firstly, the tagline of "Kellerman is a master of menace" is wholly misleading in the context of The Executor. There's very little menace here, and it turns out to be a run of the mill thriller with little in the way of "thriller".

The biggest problem is the author's excessive and somewhat indulgent ponderings. As others have said, there's far too much philosophy here which does little to move the story along. After the first 50 pages I was ready to throw in the towel because the meanderings become quickly tiresome, and at worst patronising.

However, it does pick up and I actually found the story to be vaguely intriguing. The intrigue didn't hold up though, as my expectations of dark secrets around Alma's history proved unfounded, and highlights a real missed opportunity. As things unravel (literally) I found it quite enjoyable in a "how is he going to get out of this?" way, but sadly just as the narrative gains momentum and the world starts crashing down, there's a huge jump in the timeline which left me feeling more than a little cheated, and smacks of laziness and the author rushing to get it finished.

One of the other big problems (aside from yawn inducing philosophical interludes which sound like the author regurgitating his own dissertation) is that the main character isn't likeable. I felt little empathy with him, and as the story progressed I came to dislike him. Of course, not all central characters are there to be liked, but we have to feel something for them. And this is perhaps Kellerman's biggest mistake.

If my review sounds scathing, then why the 3 stars? Because despite the issues, I actually somewhat enjoyed the book. I rattled through it in a couple of days and it served as a diversion between some of the epic series I'm currently wading through. Would I read another Kellerman book? Maybe, but I'll be checking out some reviews first...
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on 1 November 2012
If the intent of Jesse Kellerman was to create a character so lazy, whiney, entitled and self-serving that he may very well be one of the most unlikable, unredeemable characters to spring from the page of a novel then he certainly accomplished his goal when he came up with the Harvard undergrad student named Joseph Geist, chief protagonist in THE EXECUTOR. Drawing on the fact that Geist is a philosophy major, Kellerman has devoted the initial chapters of his book to what amounts to A Novices Introduction to Philosophical Theory. His style is reminiscent of sitting in a college lecture hall listening to some pompous professor drone on and on about his subject matter. The next few chapters address the subject of Joseph's relationship with Alma Spielmann, a lonely foreign born woman of letters who longs for meaningful conversation and fulfills her need by hiring our protagonist and moving him into her home. Things between Alma and Joseph are moving along swimmingly, and Joseph is enjoying the spoils of his responsibility free life until things are unceremoniously interrupted by the appearance of a "fly in the ointment". Enter Eric, Alma's nasty nephew. This character is an even more greedy and manipulative free-loader than Joseph, which is not an easy achievement. The two rivals engage in a jealous and potentially deadly battle to be King of the Hill.

The remainder of the book delves into Joseph's decline as he attempts to hold on to the lifestyle to which he has become accustomed. This man, who perceives himself as a struggling intellectual, proceeds to make some of the most illogical and downright stupid decisions imaginable and his interminable musings and rampant inner conversations ultimately manifest in a galloping case of paranoia.

A long admirer of Friedrick Nietzsche and the concept of free will, Joseph's thought processes become more and more muddled until they resemble that of his hero who spent his final days plagued by acute mental illness. Mental illness aside, however, both Joseph and his creator Jesse Kellerman should have followed Nietzsche's lead when he commented "It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book".

This particular story would have lost nothing, and may have even been made considerably better, had Kellerman exercised his free will and excised about a third of his words. 2 1/2 stars
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on 19 January 2013
Don't believe what the back cover says, it is not a thriller. It is not necessarily a bad thing.

The story revolves around Joseph Geist, who is a failed philosophy graduate (pedantic and idealistic). At the beginning of the book, his girl friend kicks him out and breaks up with him. To top it all, he loses his graduate position at the university. His only hope comes from a classified ad posted by an old lady.

The rest of the book describes the descent of an average student, into insanity. Because the book is written using the first person, the reader feels more involved as they are not only witnessing the facts. This is the biggest selling point of this book.

On the downside, the story is slow at the best of times and is sometimes clogged with lengthy descriptions and philosophical dissertations about "light" themes such as free will, freedom, etc...

Instead of a thriller, you end up with a psychological drama. Give it a go, you could be happily surprised.
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on 21 February 2013
you either love J Kellerman or you don't. I hate Marmite - but love his books. After Brutal Art - this was very different .... but I was pleased about it ... because it was not predictable ... I agree with another reader - this is more psychological thriller .... Main character very well described and his metamorphosis is a fabulous piece of writing ... I have read 2 books and very happy to read another one ...
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on 17 May 2010
If it doesn't sustain itself throughout the whole book, there's a touch of Hitchcock for at least the first half of The Executor, the story developing into an intriguing little situation that on the surface seems simple enough but underneath reveals subtle cracks in the characters that carries an indefinable air of menace or danger.

There's certainly nothing evidently thriller-like about the situation that Joseph Greist finds himself in. A thirty year old academic, Joe is finally kicked out of his place in Harvard for failing to complete his philosophy thesis, for failing moreover to convince his tutor that his chosen subject is modern and relevant enough. Having also been evicted by his girlfriend Yasmina and being unsuited to finding regular work, Joe is fortunate then to find the perfect job. An old lady has advertised in the paper for a "conversationalist", and with her Viennese background and familiarity with the great European thinkers of the last century, Alma and Joe find they have much in common. Being well-paid for just talking, and invited to take up residence in a small spare room at Alma's house, it looks like Joe has landed on his feet. But how long can it last with an old lady who is ill and suffering increasingly from bad spells where she is completely incapacitated? Joe needs to think about his future arrangements and Alma's errant nephew Eric has a few ideas how that can be sorted out.

Kellerman sets up a kind of Strangers on a Train pact situation extremely well, with an element of Leopold and Loeb in there, but at the same time manages to put his own spin on what might otherwise still be an unconvincing case. To do this he draws on elements from Joe's family background and on his own peculiar philosophical beliefs and character, bringing in Nietzsche and fundamental questions on life, death, self-dignity and free-will, also using the break-up with Yasmina to good effect to further destabilise Joe's position and certainties. Theoretical application of his ideas is one thing, but practical considerations have to be taken into account and there's no accounting for the flaws and impure motivations of human nature.

Unfortunately, there is likewise a gulf between theory and practice in how The Executor develops. At the risk of being accused of making similar heavy-handed allusions, the half of a Nietzsche bookend that Joe proudly owns becomes emblematic of the book itself. It's half of a good book - the first half intriguing, original, strong on character detail and development, only to be let down by a second half where the Nietzsche allusions and question of the Übermensch are, let's say, somewhat over-emphasised, the story descending into a disappointingly standard by-the-numbers procedure when it gets to the criminal act and the aftermath.
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on 15 December 2010
Probably the most bloated and ponderous book I've ever read.

I formed the opinion early on that the writer was attempting to reach for something profound but succeeded only in coming over like he was talking down to us mere mortals. This is an average thriller at best, and in its basic form it would have been disappointing.

Unfortunately, when this was coupled with the vast, plodding, pointless, endless philosphical meandering that effectively doubled the books content (and added practically nothing to it) then it became an exercise in stamina to finish. How many times Kellerman's obnoxious, arrogant central character, Joseph Geist embarked on yet another bout of lengthy, irrelevant philosiphising on everything from murder to whether to leave a tray of food outside the door of his landlady, I couldn't begin to guess. I eventually got to the stage where, as it had added precisely nothing to the plot, character or circumstances, I could easily skip another 3 pages of rambling here and there and return to the story, saving myself another bout of feeling like Kellerman was trying to show me just how clever he is.

For a book like this to work, the characters are everything. Unfortunately, in this case they were all so 2 dimensional and self serving that I honestly couldnt have cared less what happened to any of them. The central character, Geist was an complete waste of air from start to finish. I'm sure that Kellerman may try to say that he made him deliberately 'flawed' to add a different facet to the reader's thoughts but it didn't work. I simply found him utterly annoying and was unable to suspend my disbelief enough to accept that he could have formed any of the relationships in the book to the degree he did.

He wasted all his efforts on attempting to outline the motivation for this bland, idiotic creature at the expense of all the other characters, leaving them as nothing more than incidental to the rambling introspective of Geist. The only character that had any reality to them was the 'baddy' Eric and he was simply a run of the mill petty crook so hardly a masterpiece of invention there either.

Whatever Kellerman was aiming for with this book...he missed by a mile. This was the first of his books I've read and I can't say, on the basis of this one, I'd be rushing to read another.

The review on the cover said 'Kellerman is a master of menace'. I'm afraid, this book showed him the master of nothing more than an overblown ego attempting to show how much deeper, better read and eloquent than you or I, he is who thinks he's written something far better and more important than it actually is.

Someone should have told him what a paperback novel was supposed to be.

My copy is now at the charity store...hopefully propping up a wobbly table!
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on 18 July 2012
An unusual thriller -dark and full of menace . This is not an action packed novel but it does engage the reader with philosophical concepts and a clever way of involving the reader with the dilemma the main character finds himself in.
Definitely worth a read.
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on 19 October 2011
I really wanted to like this book, but it was slow and by page 200 nothing had really happened and I was getting a little fed up with the long winded conversations. Should have stopped reading at page 100.
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on 8 September 2011
I must admit that I did not finish this book because I did not like what it was about. Sorry ! Normally I like Jesse Kellerman but not this one.
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