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Crooked Hardcover – July 28, 2015

3.6 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Endlessly compelling . . . As eerie and absorbing as it is fantastically ludicrous . . . Grossman out-nuts the nut-jobs with a premise that's as outlandish as it is superbly conceived. . . . His details of Nixon's imaginary life-as well as those of his wife, Pat, and other contemporaries such as John F. Kennedy, Henry Kissinger and Ronald Reagan-are threaded into actual history with an intricate, clever and startling plausibility. . . . Crooked isn't simply a work of simple satire or wonky alt-history; it's a speculative character study that taps into truths about Nixon that may be more essential than literal. That is, when they're not deliciously absurd."―Jason Heller, NPR

"A cantering hodgepodge of American history, black magic and political satire . . . Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Washington-style."―Ron Charles, Washington Post

"Clever...[Grossman] creates an antihero as tormented as any Marvel or DC villain. A nuanced, funny and moving characterization of a man reviled during (and after) his term of office. A droll riff on 20th century politics. [Grossman has] impressive narrative gifts...those who love deconstructing the supernatural literary references in series like 'True Detective' and 'Lost' will find much to savor in 'Crooked.'"―Elizabeth Hand, Los Angeles Times

"Crooked is insightful, suspenseful and funny. . . . As secret histories go, Crooked makes more sense than many. Fans of either political skulduggery or Lovecraftian terror are likely to relish the novel's many dark pleasures."―Michael Berry, San Francisco Chronicle

"A wicked & wickedly funny thriller . . . Lots of dark fun!"―R.L. Stine

"The journey on which Grossman dispatches Nixon is a fun one, a Merry Pranksters bus driven by Saruman or Sauron in Lord of the Rings."―Ray Locker, USA Today

"A captivating parallel tale."―Entertainment Weekly

"Funny, intelligent . . . Intrigue and irony abound . . . Grossman has clearly done his homework on Nixon."―Chris Tucker, Dallas Morning News

"Crooked confirms and details the extremely esoteric and occult presence we always suspected lay at the heart of the Nixon administration. It's got spies, and political intrigue, and a sitting President spilling his own blood onto a pentagram hidden beneath the Oval Office rug, which is to say there are few of my buttons this book does not push."―John Darnielle, author of Wolf in White Van

"At once wildly imaginative and deeply intimate, CROOKED is a demonically fun political thriller. The brilliance of Austin Grossman is in making big stories personal, even when the big story is super-powered presidents and intercontinental necromantic missiles."―Max Barry, author of Lexicon

"In telling the secret story of Richard Nixon, Austin Grossman draws back the curtain on American history. Senator Joe McCarthy should have been much, much more frightened. Once I started reading Crooked, I couldn't put it down. But be warned, even as you devour this book, it will devour you."―Daniel O'Malley, author of The Rook

About the Author

Austin Grossman is a video game design consultant and the author of You and Soon I Will Be Invincible, which was nominated for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. His writing has appeared in Granta, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books (July 28, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031619851X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316198516
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #229,524 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Shawn P. Cooke on August 16, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Crooked" has a novel and refreshing conceit. What if Nixon, instead of being the shame of the American presidency, was instead the secret savior of the nation, who sacrificed his reputation to preserve us from the great Lovecraftian horror of the Cold War? The execution, unfortunately, was not sufficient to elevate the book from the gee-whiz factor of its premise into the ranks of the great works of alternative history.

Grossman's work suffers from an odd front-loading. The bulk of the book takes place during his early political career, as a Congressman, Senator, and Vice President in the Eisenhower White House. Though relevant, and full of the sort of creepy rising action that you might expect from a book that dips into the Lovecraftian mythos, these sections feel like a delay of the payoff we were promised from the excellent opening chapters.

When that payoff arrives, however, it is rushed. I had been hoping to see Nixon as the inheritor of the magic inherent in the American executive branch. He is, though not in the way a reader might have expected after the first chapter. I was hoping for occult adventures, after the style of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. Instead, we orbit on the fringes of an interesting story without ever landing.

By the end, I felt more frustrated than entertained. I was frustrated not at the book but at Grossman, who obviously has the writing chops to tell an engaging story, but chose to overload the appetizers and skimp on the main course. As I turned the last page, I was left with the distinct impression of having read the outline of an excellent book.

That's not to say that I found nothing to enjoy.
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Format: Hardcover
I thought the book was well written and an interesting look at Nixonian history from Nixon's point of view. However, it fell a little flat with the concept of him fighting supernatural powers, as they were never really fully developed or felt like a real threat to me. In fact, it was the weakest part of the book. I kept expecting something bigger to happen but it never did. It was a clever premise but not much more.
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Ths a secret history novel concerning Richard Nixon getting entangled in the occult underbelly of the Cold War during his political career. It was brilliant -- almost as good as Tim Powers's "Declare," which is the best secret history book I've read. Austin Grossman does a great job of filling in the gaps of history with occult underpinnings and providing supernatural backstories for historical oddities. So many nice little asides about historical figures and minor events.I would not lightly compare a book to Declare, but Crooked totally lives up to the comparison. Highest possible recommendation.
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I liked the premise of the book very much (somewhere between Charles Stross and Tim Powers), but thought the execution was very poor. Granted it's written from the perspective of Nixon, but page after page of complaints and self-loathing get a little thick. The last quarter of it felt very rushed, with parts just sketched in and a lot of deus ex machinas-- very disappointing and anticlimactic. One gets the feeling that the book was meant to be another hundred pages long but that the editor interfered.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was quite disappointed by the book Though the premise was interesting - the unknown and unpublicized cold war on the supernatural level - the author instead seemed totally focused in showing that Nixon was a shallow and miserable opportunist dragged along by forces he had no understanding of. The effort and loving care in trying to show Nixon in as bad a light as possible detracts from what I assume is the main premise to the point that I was reduced to skimming the book looking for a break in the interminable passages of loathing and self-loathing. Since I have little or no interest in Nixon I did not find the caricature of the man particularly interesting or relevant. I feel sorry that a good plot line was so wasted.
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Format: Hardcover
I have to start out by saying 'Invincible' is one of my all time favorite books. So I really (really) looked forward to this one. The idea is genius, and it had its moments, but those only served as a look at what might have been. You only get glimpses of the stuff we all want to see. It started out terribly slowly, and I felt the main story only started by about the 2/3 point. At which point I knew it should have been longer. Normally I hate books cut up into multiple volumes, but in this case, if this one was enlarged and split it would have been much better I was going to rate this book higher, but then realized that was a desire to praise the writer, not the material. By all means read it, as it may fit right into what you are looking for, but for me it was a near(ish) miss. I'm really sorry Austin, but go write another super-villain book and I'll buy three copies.
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I held high hopes for this book, yet it never produced anything remotely satisfying. There is a lot - perhaps too much - trying to occur in 40 years and 350 pages of the author's imagination. Yet, it remains too disjointed. Eisenhower is barely depicted, Pat Nixon is a non-entity until the last 20 pages, and the author ignored Spiro Agnew (who is rather blank canvas). The reader is teased with a World War II Kissinger on pages 214-215 as a "young man", yet the author recasts Kissinger as an ancient wizard a mere 25 years later.

The book reads like "Nixon goes from Point A to Point B and then Point C" as the author hits the high points of press conferences and events. Yet, the plot is not tightly woven together; it remains thread-bare. The prose ain't superb; one is never lost in the author's writing style. Honestly, this would work better as a graphic novel.

Why did I finish this book? Desperate hope that it would get better. My mistake.
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