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Cul-de-Sac: A Novel Hardcover – March 18, 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 289 pages
  • Publisher: Villard; 1st edition (March 18, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679410562
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679410560
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,487,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Great villains can make a mystery, and David Martin's latest has not one but two wonderful heavies--a grinning lunatic named Donald Growler, guilty of everything but the murder that got him sent to prison, and McCleany, the cold-blooded cop who framed him. Squeezed between these two evils are Paul, the gentle, religious young man who helped Growler get paroled, Paul's wife, and her former lover--a tough ex-cop named Teddy Camel who can look at bad guys and make them confess. Camel will need all his smarts to get over the hump of a vengeful Growler and an even more vicious McCleany. Martin's previous Camel caravan, Lie to Me, is available in paperback.

From Publishers Weekly

At the beginning of Martin's stylish but unbearably brutal new thriller, Donald Growler puts a severed human head into a washing machine, pours in some shampoo after it, notes it's called Head & Shoulders, thinks "Or in this case just Head," then muses: "It wasn't that difficult being a homicidal maniac." Not exactly a thigh-slapper, but that's about as light as the book gets. The ferocious Growler was once wrongfully accused of murder; after his release from a crippling jail sentence, he goes around systematically slaughtering, in lubriciously painful detail, the people he believes set him up. Since one of them is perky heroine Annie Milton, with whom ex-cop Teddy Camel once had an affair, Camel finds himself drawn into the hunt for Growler?which in this case consists mostly of trying to stay alive and keep Annie ditto. With the aid of a couple of really crooked cops, a hideous old house that doubles as a torture chamber and sundry cruelties, including a victim burned alive, the nailing of someone's foot to the floor, several beheadings, a sanguinary garroting and an ingeniously contrived electrocution, Martin eventually thins out his cast. The fact that he writes swiftly and with some wit doesn't really compensate for the strain on the reader. This and the recent Bone Collector (Forecasts, Dec. 16) seem to be part of a campaign to prove that writers can reach new depths in depicting violence if they put their minds to it.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By mellion108 VINE VOICE on December 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
David Martin strikes again. I am completely in awe of his creation of Growler, a maniacal serial killer with an interesting twist. I was so caught up in this story that there was no way I could put it down and ended up finishing it in one afternoon. Martin's writing is clear, and he drew me in with all the twists and turns to this story.
Donald Growler knows he has been wronged. He has just spent several years of his life in prison for a crime he says he never committed. Now he's out, and he's in search of all the people who caused him to be locked up. I was squirming in my chair with the descriptions of some of the more creative murders in this novel. The plot twists are amazing, and there were quite a few surprises. I love that Teddy Camel makes another appearance; he was a great character in Martin's LIE TO ME (another incredible serial killer novel).
Martin is not for the squeamish! He is very detailed, and his bad guys are downright brutal. But he is a master of plot and character development. This is well worth the time to read!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 10, 1998
Format: Paperback
I wasn't riveted, fascinated or spell bound by this tawdry little book. I gave it two stars instead of one because I love characters that are just a little out of sync with the rest of the world. Annie and Teddy were interesting as lead characters alebit you never understood why their brief summer affair couldn't have ended with something close to reality. Teddy didn't want to marry Annie so they broke up.... how trite given the nature of their summer together. Annie finds out she's pregnant and doesn't tell Teddy at the time but years later he's apologizing for not being there for her when she was pregnant. So when do you think the author might let it slip in that Annie had told him she got pregnant that summer. The whole stupid book is full of this sort of crap. Starting things and then forgetting how to end them and what they relate to. It's so ridiculous especially the 'bad guy'. So abused and taken advantage of by everyone you start hoping he gets to kill everyone. If you want me to feel sorry for the rat finks that lied at his trial then you gotta do better than this. I hated to see the way he died given he never did a thing to deserve the horrible things done to him while in prison for a murder he didn't commitOh yeah, just to let you know, there is no big mystery here. You know who's doing what from the first chapter. What you can't possibly know is that the author doesn't have anything else to really say.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Pam Gearhart on March 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The dialogue is right out of NYPD Blue (a compliment, of course). The discussion by a couple of the characters on whether Growler's name is pronounded Grow-ler or Growl-er is hilarious. Also appreciated by this reader is that Martin gives a plausible rationalization for Annie returning to Cul De Sac, knowing that a killer is probably waiting for her. So instead of saying to myself, "Lady, don't go in there!", I'm saying, "Yeah, I can see why she'd do that." I liked that he cared enough about the reader to realize that we'd need a reason for her risky behavior.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 20, 1997
Format: Hardcover
The majority of my favorite books have me well-hooked by the end of the first chapter. David Martin's latest nailed me by the end of the first page. And kept me thoroughly riveted right through the end.
Cul-De-Sac involves a very burned-out ex-cop, whose life is turned inside-out by the sudden appearance of his sensuous ex-girlfriend, the fairly freckled Annie. There's also the ex-girlfriend's husband (an ex-Jesuit). Most notably, there is Growler -- an ex-con who, after serving time for a murder he didn't commit, goes on a bloody rampage of vengence against all those who put him away. Growler's prison experiences have left him with a serious grudge as well as a new set of teeth; he's a man on a mission and in addition to wreaking some extremely violent havoc, is in desperate search of...yup, you guessed it; an elephant. Really.
This book made me laugh out loud. It also made me avert my eyes from the page occasionally; while some scenes are very funny, be warned that the violence is not for the faint of heart.
I've bought four more copies for friends thus far, because I won't let mine out of my sight. I've also scrambled to get my hands on all of Martin's previous books (only partially successful); Cul-De-Sac takes gets my vote as Martin's best for its sheer audicity, outrageousness, and great, great writing.
If you're a fan of Pulp Fiction or Twin Peaks, Cul-De-Sac will thrill you
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
From the moment that Martin hits the unsuspecting reader with the "head" gag in the first chapter, Cul-De-Sac had me well and truely hooked. An absolutely spiffing thriller that never loses momentum, punctuated with the occasional exceedingly nasty scene, and all wrapped up with a huge dose of hilarious gallows humour, makes for an absolutely unputdownable page-turner. I can't wait for Tarantino (or possibly Cronenberg?) to make the movie!
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By Day on October 15, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
To say that this book is following the same formula as Martin's previous Detective Teddy Camel thriller is an understatement. Both Lie to Me and Cul-De-Sac deal with a killer who is recently out of prison where horrible things happened to them, both deal with an extremely gruesome crime right off the bat, and both have layered mysteries and characters that are more than meets the eye. I suppose it's a case where the old line "If something ain't broke don't fix it" applies, because it didn't bother me one bit.

Cul-De-Sac is even more graphic and disturbing than Lie to Me, and we really get to know Teddy Camel more as a character. Annie Milton, was a wonderful counter to Teddy and their history is tumultuous and what was touching is that despite the years and circumstances, when reunited you get the sense that they feel as if no time has passed between them. The entire dynamics of their relationship was well thought and believable. In fact, the characters in general were better written and more thoughtful in this book. Even the villain (Growler) who did awful and positively sick things through out the story had moments where I could sympathize with him.

Though Cul-De-Sac is not a perfect book, several things are overlooked because it was a page turning thriller that kept me thoroughly engrossed with gory acts, legitimate mystery, dark humor, a Bogart style hero and a satisfying ending. I found myself wanting to read more about Teddy Camel and his crime solving mysteries and would automatically order another if I should happen to come across it in the future.
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