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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Issues of trust in a world of moral ambiguities
“Caught,” by Lisa Moore, is a stunning novel of piercing psychological depth and realism. It literally took my breath away. This is the first novel I’ve read by Moore, but I can easily see why she won the 2013 Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Award, one of Canada’s major literary honors. In conferring that prize on the whole of Moore’s...
Published 7 months ago by B. Case

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars the writing is good
The style of writing is really good. The story? Not so much. It's just an obvious slow moving train on it's way to a wreck. There are no surprises. Perhaps that's the most disappointing surprise of all is that it's just so obvious . Everything you think is going to happen is going to happen. There's no great resolution or salvation at the end. I prefer a story with...
Published 6 months ago by K. Hulse


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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Issues of trust in a world of moral ambiguities, January 10, 2014
This review is from: Caught (Hardcover)
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“Caught,” by Lisa Moore, is a stunning novel of piercing psychological depth and realism. It literally took my breath away. This is the first novel I’ve read by Moore, but I can easily see why she won the 2013 Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Award, one of Canada’s major literary honors. In conferring that prize on the whole of Moore’s literary work, the jury noted that she was “a writer of startling originality and compelling emotional truth.” In my opinion, that short phrase aptly and succinctly captures this author’s exceptional literary gift.

“Caught” is an insightful novel constructed around the theme of trust, truth, and deception. All the main and secondary characters are regular, everyday type of people portrayed with stark emotional honesty and authenticity; the world they inhabit is one of enigmatic moral ambiguities. We recognize that world as our own and it startles us because we begin to see how dangerous and unpredictable it can be. Anything can happen. Trust is fickle. Control is fiction. Fate is something we eventually must accept…and not let it turn us bitter or make us feel entitled.

The publisher’s blurb on the back of the novel is trying to market this book as some kind of a literary prison-break suspense thriller. All that’s true, but it is not necessarily encouraging the right audience. Sure, the novel is compelling with a pace that pushes the reader through the pages eager to find out what’s going to happen to the likable main character. Sure, the main character is very young, perceptive, crafty, and likable—a modern-day Billy the Kid—but what drives this book is not the action, but the inner motivations behind those actions. It’s not a genre suspense thriller; it’s a profound literary psychological drama….that just happens to be enveloped in a thrilling and suspenseful story.

The novel tells the story of good-looking twenty-five-year-old David Slaney. It opens in Nova Scotia with a prison break. David’s been in prison for four years and two days because he was caught while smuggling two tons of Colombian marijuana into Newfoundland by boat. That was in the late sixties before gangsters and violence took over the drug trade. It was during an era when just normal kids were involved in trying to make it rich by smuggling pot. The whole plan was a daring heist—and a crazy youthful lark. It was something that David and his best buddy, Hearn, had done together. Hearn was the brains behind the idea, but they’d gotten caught. David went to prison, but Hearn managed to skip out on the law and stay on the lam. Hearn had a new identity; he was studying to get a Ph.D. in literature; he was also planning a new Colombian drug heist and for that, he needed David…and David needed to be with his friend and support him with this new plan.

For the first half of the book, David is on the run, sometimes only hours ahead of the cop who’s pursuing him across Canada. He’s a wanted man. His picture and story are front-page news. With that amount of high publicity, who can David trust? What motivates the people who go out of their way to help David knowing exactly who he is? What motivates the people who try to deceive him into thinking that they are helping him when they are really only trying to get him turned into the police? How can David know who he can trust? David figures that he has a special skill in sensing who is trustworthy and who is out to deceive him. Time after time, he makes the right decision. He reads people like a book. But is he winning by luck or does he really possess an innate skill at being able to read a stranger’s intentions?

Eventually, David meets up with Hearn. But their second heist of Colombian marijuana turns out to be something entirely different than David had imagined.

As readers, we really want Slaney to win. He’s a decent guy. There is something about him that is very special—the kind of young man who is capable of seeing “glimpses of dignity in everyone.” Slaney has the “raw courage and the will” to make the heist a success. Hearn depends of him. But is he taking advantage of his friend?

Lisa Moore’s arresting prose is full of intense emotions, active verbs, and vivid imagery. But more importantly, she deals with big issues where there isn’t any one right answer. She keeps her readers thinking.

I have nothing but high praise for this author and this book. I hope my review has piqued your interest. The novel is very entertaining and will keep you thinking long after the last page is read.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars the writing is good, February 5, 2014
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K. Hulse (Sacramento California) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Caught (Kindle Edition)
The style of writing is really good. The story? Not so much. It's just an obvious slow moving train on it's way to a wreck. There are no surprises. Perhaps that's the most disappointing surprise of all is that it's just so obvious . Everything you think is going to happen is going to happen. There's no great resolution or salvation at the end. I prefer a story with some twists and unexpected events. A story that draws me in emotionally or intellectually or both. I do admire the style of writing. I just wish it was connected to a more satisfying story.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, well-written romp - with the hero as victim, January 13, 2014
This review is from: Caught (Hardcover)
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We meet David Slaney, the protagonist of this novel, on the day he breaks out of a Canadian prison where he has served four years for a drug smuggling scheme that went wrong. His accomplice and childhood buddy, Hearn, had gotten bail and taken off. Slaney took the fall. Now David is determined to trek across Canada, rejoin his friend, go down to Colombia and try to smuggle in the drugs once more to make his fortune.

We also meet Patterson, the policeman whose career depends on catching Slaney. We learn that he is the sole custodian of his handicapped half-brother. He needs the promotion to keep his sibling in the facility where he is cared for.

As Slaney hitches rides, takes refuge in cafes and broken-down hotels, visits an ex-lover and thinks about his past and future, he emerges as an intelligent and sympathetic character. He's kind and he's well-intentioned and he thinks he has it all under control. But as we learn, Slaney is the ultimate sucker and victim. He's playing with forces greater than himself and what he believes is his freedom to determine his own fate is nothing but an illusion. Slaney's friendship with Hearn is a fake, we discover; he's also no good as a lover because he can't commit to taking care of his partner and her daughter, even though he loves them. The place in his brain where both morality and good sense should reside is not there. Or Slaney is just not interested in a boring, conventional life and is willing to risk everything for something more.

This is a well-written book that kept me thoroughly engaged. The dialogue is pared down but realistic and the characters spring to life. Slaney's quest is really the attempt of a young man to break out of the path preordained for him. By braving everything he goes through, he's gambling his life for a big payoff -- and the meaning of that payoff is freedom.
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39 of 52 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lame story line, January 28, 2014
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This review is from: Caught (Kindle Edition)
The prose is good, even excellent at times. A great effort has been made to construct interesting sentences and to provide beautiful and lyrical descriptions. However, the story does not live up to the prose - and I would not recommend this book.

I persevered with it because I read it as a member of a book club but some of the other members gave up and others did not read it all and I didn't encourage them to either.

Overall, I would characterize this book as being very shallow, and the characters particularly so.

Sorry.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Freedom was running in his blood now...", April 15, 2014
This review is from: Caught (Hardcover)
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This new novel by one of Canada's emerging literary novelists is, in my opinion, her best yet, wrestling with issues like what it means to have trust and faith in others (and, conversely, to doubt them) as well as what it means to be free -- or even just to feel free.

When David Slaney breaks out of prison in 1978, four years into a much longer sentence for conspiring to distribute a big shipment of marijuana, the young Newfoundland is clear about what this newfound freedom means: a second chance. A chance to do it right this time. To meet up with his old friend, Hearn, who had managed to (a) get bail and (b) skip out on bail and has remained free, and is now getting himself a degree in modern English literature under his new, false name. Hearn has it all lined up: all Slaney has to do is get down to Colombia, load up a boat with marijuana, and get it back to Canada -- this time, landing it without the cops becoming aware of what is going on.

Except that wherever Slaney turns, he is aware that his name and image are on newspapers and television news broadcasts as an escaped prisoner -- and that someone is just as eager to catch him as Slaney is determined to remain free. There are wheels within wheels...

Slaney is an unusual choice of character, but after a slow start, he became a fascinating one. He's a trusting guy, and trustworthy: the kind that a bride can invite into her hotel room to zip up her gown; that a young night school student can invite home to meet her grandfather. He, in his turn, wants to trust -- above all, he wants to trust in Hearn's good faith, in spite of (or perhaps because of) their very different paths after the duo are first arrested (before the book begins) trying to land a jumbo shipment of marijuana in heavy fog in a Newfoundland cove. But it's Hearn who catches all the breaks: while Slaney ends up in jail, dreaming of but never hearing from Jennifer, the love of his life, Hearn has moved on to yet another young woman and another life, seemingly taking it all for granted. When Slaney risks his life on the second trip, Hearn seems to shrug off his concerns.

If you're looking for a thriller, you're in the wrong place. If you're looking for a thoughtful novel that deals with questions of free will, life's purpose or meaning, and above all the thorny one of trust and doubt, especially one with complicated characters with troublesome backgrounds, then you may just have found one that you'll relish. (One note: there are few conventional heroes here: Slaney, who behaves like a hero on a couple of occasions, is a convicted felon on the lam; even the "good guy" cop here is kind of a loser; he sweats constantly; his clothes don't fit; his bosses look at him with disdain.) This isn't a fast-paced narrative, by any stretch of the imagination; indeed, it's more of a ruminative, ambling kind of book, in which Slaney interrupts his cross-country trip to ponder such questions as ten reasons to go on, or reflect on his past relationship with Jennifer. Nonetheless, by the time I was halfway through, I was hooked and simply couldn't put it down. Part of it was the cat-and-mouse game between Slaney, Hearn and the cops; part of it was Slaney's own battle within himself. Can he simply walk away from it all?

I approached this with some caution, not having been tremendously impressed by Moore's previous novel, "February", but am very glad I stuck with it past the first 60 bumpy pages. David Slaney is a character who will linger on in my memory, in a quiet way, as will Moore's intriguing final paragraphs. 4.5 stars, rounded up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Hearn was charismatic and fiercely smart, but he wouldn't do it without David Slaney. Slaney was the raw courage and the will.", April 1, 2014
This review is from: Caught (Hardcover)
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'Caught' is a literary action novel filled with suspense and wonderful existential dialogue. The book definitely has philosophical leanings towards angst and fear.

David Slaney has just escaped from jail after four years of being incarcerated for smuggling two million dollars worth of pot into Canada. The year is 1978. He is determined to make it to his buddy Hearn in Vancouver to set up a second heist, hoping this time it will go right. Slaney and Hearn were turned in the first time by fishermen in Newfoundland who they never suspected of being a threat to them. This time, Slaney views everyone as a threat. Hearn didn't go to jail because he skipped bail and was never caught. He is now working on a PhD. in literature.

As David makes his way towards Hearn, a Canadian police sergeant named Patterson is after him and has infiltrated Hearn's ranks. He is one step behind Slaney all the way to Colombia where Slaney is to pick up his stash of pot and then sail to Canada. The novel gives the reader a great description of Patterson and his life. He has a teen-aged daughter who has run away and disappeared. He once had an affair with his dead father's mistress who had a son with his father. This son, Alphonse, is a Down Syndrome child who Patterson supports in a group home. Without a promotion, he can no longer afford to pay for Alphonse's care and so it is of utmost importance to him that he catch Hearn and Staley and get his promotion.

The characters come alive on the pages. Hearn and Slaney have a blind love for one another, having known each other since early childhood. Slaney worries about Hearn's set-up of this second heist but he doesn't bail. Despite his gut, he goes along with the plans. It is cat and mouse until the end.

While I really enjoyed the novel, I found the denouement too pat. I wanted it to be more drawn out and eventful. I liked the style of writing and the way that the narrative never utilized quotation marks yet the reader knows when there is dialogue. This is definitely a book for those who enjoy mystery/thrillers and like literary fiction, a rare combination to find in a book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Torture, June 15, 2014
This review is from: Caught (Hardcover)
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I found this book an actual torture to read. We are introduced to Slaney, who has just escaped from prison, after being held for four years, one day short of his 25th birthday. . Slaney plans to meet his former partner, Hern, so they can reconnect and go into business again. Slaney was locked away for marijuana possession and plans to sell again. His journey to reconnect with Hern, is slow and boring and I found myself wondering why I am forcing myself to continue this story when I realized I just could not. Not worth my time and not one I would recommend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very well written novel of suspense, March 13, 2014
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This review is from: Caught (Kindle Edition)
While the underlying story here- drug dealer escapes from prison, undertakes another deal, takes risks, is inevitably caught-is hardly a new one and is frankly the kind of plot that I usually avoid, it is the writing and the characterization that made this book a genuine pleasure to read. I found its use of language and character, in fact, outstanding. The different meanings of "caught" carried a resonance far beyond the suspenseful read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Get caught up in this book, March 12, 2014
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This review is from: Caught (Kindle Edition)
You'll be caught! Moore has a way of spinning you around so you're never certain whether it's happening now or in the past. The characters are all very rounded: heroes are flawed and "bad guys" aren't. It's a terrifically original read from an author whose other books, "February" and "Alligator" were just as quirky and wonderful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hooked is more like it!, March 10, 2014
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This review is from: Caught (Kindle Edition)
I absolutely loved this novel. It snagged me from the start. I could hardly bear to put it down while on a recent vacation in Mexico, by chance, and I've been to Colombia, so time and place were familiar, and both were captured very well. The prose was creative and clever. A wonderful read not just about drug dealing, but about love and loyalty and dreams and pipedreams and all the rest. I plan to read more of Lisa Moore. Bravo!
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Caught
Caught by Lisa Moore (Hardcover - February 4, 2014)
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