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Bodies Electric: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – January 7, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When the behind-your-back world of a Manhattan executive collides with the in-your-face-reality of a battered Brooklyn woman, the result is a taut, nerve-wracking drama. Jack Whitman's rosy future in a Time Warner- type media conglomerate turns into workaholic obsession when his pregnant wife is gunned down by random crossfire. Grief-driven, Jacks zooms along the fast track, becoming a major player in his boss's plan to wrest control of "the Corporation" from the company's chairman by completing a multinational merger without notifying the board. A chance subway encounter with Dolores Salcines--a Dominican mother hiding with her four-year-old daughter, Maria, from her violent husband, Hector--drives his loneliness home. Moved by her plight--and her beauty--he offers Dolores a job and a temporary safe house at a friend's empty loft. But Hector finds them; they narrowly escape and end up in Jack's house in Park Slope. Now tragedy is in store, stalking Jack at work as the internecine war escalates and at home as Hector closes in. Only one incident at this point may dismay readers, who will find it contrived. Otherwise, Harrison ( Break and Enter ) has written a beautifully balanced thriller in which high-tech corporate power struggles are contrasted with the incendiary passion for family shared by Jack, who finally has everything, and Hector, who has lost it all. $100,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This is a hard-boiled detective novel without the detective. Harrison has a feel for the rhythm of New York, just as Dashiell Hammett had for San Francisco. The plot, told from the perspective of corporate businessman Jack Whitman, oozes sex, blood, and greed. At first, the reader feels sorry for Whitman when he is pulled into a corporate coup d'etat and is caught up in a dangerous love affair after the brutal murder of his pregnant wife. Later, however, it becomes apparent that Whitman is a metaphor for the greed of our era with his amoral ability to use money and people interchangeably. He tries to reconstruct his family by taking in a down-and-out woman and her daughter, while using corporate might to hold the estranged father at arm's length. Meanwhile, he is a point-man for an internal takeover in a multinational corporation. One could feel sorry for Whitman when his life collapses, but the forces that destroy him are cut from the same cloth as he is. The beauty of this book is in the characters' depth. An editor at Harper's magazine, Harrison is author of Break and Enter (Crown, 1990). Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/93.
- Randall L. Schroeder, Augustana Coll. Lib., Rock Island, Ill.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks; First Edition edition (January 7, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312979665
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312979669
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,394,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mark Lahren on February 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
When I first opened this book and began reading it, I knew I was in good hands. The writing is beautiful. I finished it in two sittings, and immediately regretted reading it so fast, but I couldn't help it. It is stunningly captivating and putting it down is very close to impossible. I've read thousands of novels in my time, and I can't at the moment think of one written better than this one. Mr. Harrison's mastery of the English language is unequalled. The characters are fascinating and the storytelling flawless. And the suspense will have you reading at the edge of your seat. Also check out 'Break and Enter' and 'Manhattan Nocturne', both also works of art. But 'Bodies Electric' will always be my favorite. My guess is; if you read this one, you will be desperately hunting for everything else he's written, and you won't be disappointed when you find them.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Hepzibah P. Flurge on March 30, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I had some minor issues toward the end. During a meeting late in the novel, a character is forced to present wearing nothing but swimwear. This seemed a laborious way to make a point, and the silliness of the situation distracted me. The ending ties up messily, with everything resolved but in a manner that stretches the limits of disbelief. People are revealed for what and who they really are, certainly, but there's a lack of motivation behind their actions, and their deeds are not convincing.
I'm being deliberately coy, because all faults aside, this is a very impressive book. Harrison's writing style and the depth and breadth of his characters are beautiful. Reading on, you come to feel as if you know these people, and in most instances you genuinely care about them. Even minor characters are fully limned. Better still is what Harrison doesn't say. Jack Whitman tells us that his mother never liked his late wife, and in the next breath that he doesn't speak to his mother much anymore. Harrison lets us read between the lines in many such places.
A classical sense of tragedy runs through this book: that our lives are not foretold but shaped by us, and that we are often the sources of our own ruin. At the tale's end, you'll want to go back to the beginning, armed with a new knowledge of who these people are and what will become of them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Phreddy Tran on April 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Harrison's novel is an engrossing and suspenseful story of colliding ambitions and needs in America, with an incisive view of how corporations dehumanize the people who support them. His rich descriptions of life and society are as astute as any critical essay, yet make for irresistible reading. He also is a master of the "gray area": there are no good guys or bad guys in this book -- just people trying to survive and find personal fulfillment in their own ways. This novel has changed both the way I write and the way I view other people trying to make sense of life.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Glenn Russell on August 23, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Colin Harrison's novel is not only a thriller but a study in sociology, psychology and cross cultural collisions, a novel of hard-boiled language and fast-paced action. As way of example, here are several quotes from the opening pages:

Thriller - "My name is Jack Whitman and I should never have had the first thing to do with her - not with what was happening at the Corporation at the time. But I'm as weak hearted for love and greedy for power as the next guy, maybe more so. And I was crazy for the sex - of course that was part of it." Jack Whitman is the first-person narrator and this is how the novel opens, an opening Raymond Chandler and his fictional private-eye Phillip Marlow would appreciate.

Sociology - "And it was equally clear that if the woman had been dressed in a pair of tight jeans and cheap red pumps, she might be a New York-born Puerto Rican whore addicted to self-destruction, carrying a purse filed with rubbers and wrinkled bills and selling herself to all comers at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel, a woman who, despite providence's gift of fine bones and large, deep eyes, was forced to love life faster and harder than was ever meant." The author has Jack Whitman make pointed, telling and sometimes scathing observations about society on nearly every page.

Psychology - "Morrison, second in command in the Corporation, the man everyone feared . . . . Morrison had lost half a leg and most of a hand as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam, having survived, he had the confidence of five men. Combat had shown him that we are all merely walking bags of meat, and once a man has decided that, all manner of brilliant scheming becomes possible." Indeed, Harrison's novel is a study in corporate psychology.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The atmosphere of New York in the early 90'ies; funny how that felt a little distant, like remembering an old friend. This is a very nice book, well written, with a set of engaging characters, and an interesting story. The story is not complicated, but well told, and the author makes you really care about the multi-faceted characters involved. Also, this author is a keen observer of the world around him. The detailed description of things, actions and motives are often a little unexpected, and often illuminating.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I only recently discovered this author and intend to read everything he has written. I hope he will write a lot more. Evidently, he is a full-time editor for a book publisher and I hope his day job doesn't slow down his output in terms of novels. He shows a deep understanding of the workings of large corporations and their sometimes criminal wrongdoings. I recommend this book and his others very highly to all lovers of crime/suspense.
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