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Caretaker of Lorne Field Paperback – October 19, 2011

32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Zeltserman's superb mix of humor and horror focuses on Jack Durkin, the ninth generation of firstborn sons in his family who have daily weeded Lorne Field to purge it of Aukowies, bloodthirsty plants that could overrun the world in weeks if not attended to. Though Jack takes his job seriously, no one else does: his oldest son doesn't want to follow in his footsteps; his wife is tired of living poorly on his caretaker's salary; and the townspeople who subsidize him are increasingly skeptical of purported menaces that no one has ever seen because Jack diligently nips them in the bud. With his support dwindling, Jack finds himself driven to desperate measures to prove that he's truly saving the world. Zeltserman (Pariah) orchestrates events perfectly, making it impossible to tell if Jack is genuinely humankind's unsung hero or merely the latest descendant of a family of superstitious loonies. Readers will keep turning the pages to see how the ambiguous plot resolves. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

This superbly crafted horror story explores the dichotomy between belief and rationality. Why has a small town maintained a contract since the eighteenth century with a member of the community and his heirs to pull weeds in Lorne Field? Jack Durkin, the current and ninth generation of Lorne Field caretakers, says the things he pulls from the ground aren't weeds; they are something called Aukowies, and if they're not pulled up by the roots and burned every day, the world will end. Under pressure from his wife to get a real job; from the town fathers (looking to save a few bucks and end the contract); and from his sons, who don't see themselves as career weed-pullers, Durkin is finally out of a job. No more weed pulling. So is he just a nut case, or does the novel segue into another Little Shop of Horrors? Sorry, we don't do spoilers. Horror fans will have to read this first-class cautionary tale themselves. --Elliott Swanson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press; Reprint edition (October 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590205790
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590205792
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #993,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

"If there's any other young writer out there who does crime noir better than Zeltserman, I don't even want to know." Maureen Corrigan, THE WASHINGTON POST

Dave Zeltserman's crime and horror novels include SMALL CRIMES, PARIAH, KILLER, OUTSOURCED, THE CARETAKER OF LORNE FIELD, A KILLER'S ESSENCE, MONSTER, and THE BOY WHO KILLED DEMONS. He's been published in seven languages and three of his books are currently being developed as movies.

His books have been picked by NPR, the Washington Post, American Library Association, Booklist, and WBUR as best novels of the year, and his short mystery fiction has won a Shamus, Derringer and two Ellery Queen Readers Choice awards.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Scott M. on February 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up from a local library and read it in 2 days - after that, I went to the nearest Borders and bought it for my horror collection at home.

If you read a smuch as I do, then part of the fun of doing what we do is stumbling across a novel by a unknown writer whose plot and premise are so simple, and yet so damned ingenious, that you wind up thumping yourself on the forehead with an opened palm and thinking, "Now why in the hell didn't I think of this idea?"

The plot of this neat, concise novel harkens back to what was popular back in the 1930s horror pulps. A caretaker, a married man with two kids, has weeded a field - Lorne Field - for decades. His family have done the same, weeding this very same, acre-sized field, for generations. Why? If Lorne Field is left unattended, the weeds grow into something that could wipe out humanity in a matter of days. So day after day, year after year, this single, lonely man toils back and forth across Lorne Field with his hoe, even as his wife ridicules him, his children mock him, and townsfolk who once respected what the caretaker and his ancestors did have forgotten why, and thus resent him, thinking him eccentric or completely losing his marbles.

This is Dave Zelterman's first foray into the horror genre, and he writes the book with such ease that you, the reader, don't ever really know if there really IS a horrific menace growing out of the grass on Lorne Field, or if the perceived terror isn't a figment of the caretaker's sickening imagaination. At least you won't until reaching the novel's climax. Trust me - it's a doozy.

A brilliant novel. Why "The Caretaker of Lorne Field" wasn't nominated for a Bram Stoker, I'll never know.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr James N Simpson on January 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I've read a few of Zeltserman's novels and had wrongly assumed this would sort of be like the others I had read, where a tough guy is pushed too far and is forced to get his vengeance to survive. Then when this arrived and I read the cover blurb of what it was about I really wasn't expecting much. I couldn't have been more wrong though! This is a great read, and it's been a long time since the early career novels of Stephen King that I've read a horror novel that I could tell people who aren't even horror novel fans, you have to read this!

The book is written through the eyes mostly of Jack Durkin, a man who from the day his was born was destined with the privilege and curse of being the caretaker of Lorne Field from the day he turned 21. His body is getting old though from the daily torment. The job is not easy, it's mentally and physically draining. Lorne Field is the size of two football fields and he must pull Aukowie's out of every little square centimetre of dirt every single day. It's not an easy job, the Aukowie's have razor sharp teeth and one lapse in concentration will mean serious injury or even death if the Aukowie's can pull it off. In their infancy stage they are manageable, if they grow a few inches they are near impossible to pull out and kill. Any bigger and it's the end of the town, then America and eventually the world in a matter of weeks. So no matter how injured or sick Jack is, he must remove every single Aukowie from Lorne Field, every single day. With a brief respite when the frost comes. There was a time in the 300 year history of the contract which outlines the Durkin family destiny, that the caretaker was looked upon with pity and thanks by the town who were grateful for the sacrifice made. Not anymore, only a few townspeople believe in the Aukowie.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
If you see Dave Zeltserman, tell him he owes me a night's sleep. Zeltersman is arguably best known for his fine works in the crime fiction genre, novels and short stories that are of such high quality that one can recommend them to friends without hesitation. But THE CARETAKER OF LORNE FIELD is somewhat different from his previous titles. Of course there is the same care of wordcraft; in fact, he ratchets things up a notch or three. No, Zeltserman makes a shift from urban noir to subtle rural horror and psychological suspense. When one reads this book, one thinks of names like Ambrose Bierce, August Derleth, Manly Wade Wellman, and even W.W. Jacobs, at least topically. Zeltserman's style, though, is all his own.

Jack Durkin is the caretaker of Lorne Field. Well on the downside of middle age, Jack is the representative of the ninth generation of Durkins who is tasked with keeping a large tract of land clear of what he calls Aukowies. An Aukowie is a monster that, if left to grow unchecked, could take over the entirety of the country within two weeks, and not nicely, either. Jack, as the eldest son of an eldest son, possesses the book and the contract that has governed the agreement between his family and the local town. The work is difficult, unrelenting and backbreaking. Think of clearing an area roughly the equivalent of two football fields of weeds that grow back each day, day in and day out, with the only respite occurring during the winter months. Such a job would give anyone a negative attitude, and most certainly Jack has one, even as he is single-mindedly driven to honor the contract to the letter.
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