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A Conspiracy of Tall Men Paperback – September 1, 1999


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Noah Hawley quickly sucks us into his loopy, frightening first thriller by creating a perfect world of present-tense paranoia. "Here among the tabouli salads and unprocessed soy drinks the three conspiracy theorists meet each week to discuss developments in the interconnected network of plots driving the world toward a new order," he writes about the lunches that his hero--Linus Owens, a 35-year-old professor of conspiracy theory at Modesto College in San Rafael, California--has with his two friends. "Edward and Roy, despite Roy's innocuous job at Radio Shack and Edward's mostly shut-in status, are cutting-edge anarchists, publishers of anarchic newsletters, organizers of the new virtual revolution. Linus, in contrast, feels sheltered in the fat nest of academia. Sometimes he doubts his phone is even bugged...." But when Claudia, the perfectly normal wife he has somehow managed to acquire, is apparently killed in a plane crash on her way to Brazil (Owens thought she was in Chicago visiting her mother), he has to leave that fat nest and move out into what passes for the real world. It's a place where CIA agents lie about being FBI agents, where his wife's advertising business has sinister connections, and where nothing--or everything--is what he and his crazy companions think it is. --Dick Adler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Orwellian echoes haunt this provocative, tongue-in-cheek debut chiller about bureaucratic mind control. When the feds fly Linus Owens, a professor of conspiracy theory at a small San Francisco college, to Florida to identify his wife's body at the site of a terrorist airliner bombing, he's devastated to learn she was on her way to Brazil with a secret lover. Mistrustful of the government, Linus coerces the airline into supplying him with the plane's unaltered passenger list and sets out with a pair of fellow conspiracy analysts to find the radicals responsible for his wife's death. After the three academics pull off some fancy computer hacking, Linus escapes the spying eyes of his pill-popping, neurotic "FBI" (really CIA) babysitter and heads cross-country to track the culprits to their lair. Marital infidelity, an enigmatic terrorist group called Danton, the long-forgotten disappearance of a talk-radio rabble-rouser, pharmaceutical intrigue involving clandestine trials of a mind-control drug, government-orchestrated kidnapping and murder all figure in the plot. Linus's search turns up more dead ends than a street map of Washington, D.C., until, by the end of this suspenseful, cerebral satire, staying alive becomes more important than finding answers as the outraged professor matches wits with men in black.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 370 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books; First Edition edition (September 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671038249
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671038243
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,064,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 19, 1999
Format: Paperback
I'm not looking for the next Henry James when I read fiction. I'm looking to be entertained with an intelligent story and insightful characters that I can sympathize with. I just read this again for the second time and still found it satisfying in its mix of progressive prose style, witty commentary on society and sheer entertainment value.
Don't stop short at comparing the plot and characters to an X-files episode. If you do you're missing the point. Read it again, now that the TV show is on its last legs, for the refreshing dose of paranoia that we all need once in awhile.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 20, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I wish Mr. Hawley knew his characters better so when he wrote their dialogue, the reader would know who's speaking. Strange and awkward metaphors and similes. I had hoped for an intelligent thriller--I read an unintelligible one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Bucher on January 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
Not being a professor I do not pretend to critique Mr. Hawley's technical abilities as a writer, nor can I comment on overuse of material seen already in X-files as I quit that program after the first year. I can, however, endorse the mental images his writing conveys, especially when describing events in Florida, having been a long-time resident there myself. His book did exactly what I want any book to do - it entertained me, kept my interest and made me care about the characters. In my view, most writing is at least slightly an echo of the efforts of others. How could it not be? There has been so much writing it would be almost impossible not to allude to something someone else has written, but I think perhaps he may have avoided the Shakespear trap.
Regardless of any legitimate criticism another more advanced writer may have, I enjoyed the book thoroughly. At one point, I recall a newspaper article about Patrick Stewart being interested in making it a movie. While the book may not go down as deathless prose in the eyes of the scholars, I think it would make one heck of a movie and hope something comes of that.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
An interesting intro sucks you in, leads you page by page but in the end you realize you haven't traveled anywhere. And three days after finishing it, I still don't know what tall men had to do with the story.
Plus, the author tries to prove what a good writer he is over and over again. He is a good writer, he just needs to work on creating plots that start with a mystery to draw us in and finish with conclusions that actually conclude something.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Carol S. VINE VOICE on March 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book defies genre. It is at heart, a thriller in the manner of a Hitchcock man-against-dark-forces movie, but at the same time it is a satire of the 90s tendency to see conspiracies everywhere while at the same time a chilling & credible vision of one possible conspiracy. It is also a well-written book with a lot of funny observations about our culture & insights into human relationships.
To say this book is like a bad X-files episode is, I think, to miss the point - like criticizing Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein" for being like a bad monster movie. As satire, it necessarily takes the elements of the conspiracy thriller and exaggerates them. What is so unique about this novel is that at the same time as it skewers this paranoid mentality, it sucks you into believing that the conspiracy played out in the book could/does really exist.
The book has a very postmodern feel, so if you like your fiction to be more traditional in writing style, this rapid-fire present-tense perspective-shifting style may turn you off. Given the subject of the book, I thought it worked.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is clearly a mixed bag. On the one hand, the writing is flat, dull and made for television at best. I hope the author understands that he has managed to push a product on the market but in terms of skill or artistry, he certainly hasn't written anything.
On the other hand, Hooly is to be commended for grasping a daring and controversial topic. Although his writing is a disappointment, Hully must be credited for writing the first book about gay conspiracy theory to successfully reach a mass market. Of course Hally's homosexual references are more implied than explicit, but they provide a significant enough undercurrent for the reader to grasp his meaning.
Veteran readers of gay conspiracy theory will quickly grasp the root of holley's plot. Linus, the professor of conspiracy theory is clearly an allusion to Linus, the asexual, orally fixated character in the popular comic strip Peanuts. Critical theorists have long acknowledged that Linus is to Charlie Brown what Gilligan is to skipper: his little buddy. Linus' wife Claudia is clearly a throwback the fourth Roman Emperor Claudius who was popularized in this century by the famous work of Robert Graves. Aside from his uncanny survival instincts and his stuttering, Claudius was reputed to have dressed in women's togas and referred to himself as "Claudia".
The real conspiracy in "Conspiracy" is not based on assassination, government dirty tricks or ruthless capitalist exploitation (only an idiot would write about the obvious), so much as closeted homosexuality. The death of Claudia is a metaphorical termination of her/his shameful secret. The conspiracy is one of silence over the love of two men for each other. It is one that brings Linus hidden passions to the surface.
A sophisticated yet poorly written book. But we all acknowledge Holl's courage and originality in turning to gay conspiracy theory.
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