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Desert Kill Paperback – October, 2000

2.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Gerard's third novel (after the praised Hatteras Light and Cape Fear Rising ), is a first-rate psycho-thriller that promises to be his commercial breakthrough. Dexterously crafted, this macabre story of the hunt for a serial killer in Phoenix is a triumph of pacing and sense of place. Paul Pope, the wise but aging state chief of homicide, enlists the aid of nephew Roy, a professor of literature, to solve a series of ghoulish murders of young women. The case becomes a race against time, because it's feared that the killer is holding captive a topless dancer and student of Roy's named Cindy Callison. Meanwhile, echoes from the past relate the grisly murders to the Popes' clouded family history. Interspersed with cryptic fragments of the phantom's demented internal ravings, the narrative is a gripping read despite some hackneyed plot elements. Powerful psychological undercurrents course through and impel Gerard's wonderfully fleshed-out characters: Roy's wife, Eileen, silently suffering the anguish of a brutal rape resulting in abortion; Roy, haunted by his ill-considered rendezvous with Cindy at the bar where she worked; Jane, psychologist and ceramist, carrying an old torch for Paul; and earthy, Mexican Esmeralda, ex-prostitute and now Paul's loyal, long-suffering housekeeper. Bidding fair to joining the small band of psycho-thriller writers (Harris, Lindsey, Pearson among them) whose insight into the human soul equals their skill at suspense, Gerard is clearly a writer to watch.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Against the backdrop of modern-day Phoenix, aging top-cop Paul Pope and English professor nephew Roy track a serial killer. One of Roy's female students is missing and presumed held captive, and both men are determined to rescue her. Decades ago, Paul's young wife was killed by kidnappers, and Roy's wife was recently the victim of a highway rapist. In addition, Roy thinks he might be in love with the student. Good sense of place, strong characterization, and an interesting discussion of life-as-literature (and vice versa) highlight this mixed bag of a suspense novel. On the downside, obligatory descriptions of the killer's carnage abound. One also gets inside the killer's mind for standard mumbo jumbo. In the end, the serial killer proves more plot device than evil menace, and the culminating revelations of his identity severely strain reader credulity. By the author of Cape Fear Rising (LJ 2/1/94), this book is recommended for public libraries in the Southwest for its regional setting.
James B. Hemesath, Adams State Coll. Lib., Alamosa, Col.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Disc-Us Books (October 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584442506
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584442509
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,392,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

"I believe in the writer as a witness to evil, as a reporter of injustice, as a chronicler of human compassion, even on occasion of greatness, as one whose skills illuminate the Truth with a capital T, without irony. I believe it is the job of the writer to put into words what is worst - and also what is best - about us. To light up our possibilities, discover the finest lives to which we can aspire, and to inspire our readers to greatness of soul and heart."

The Patron Saint of Dreams book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsvexuZ8Q7
Pocket Biography
Philip Gerard was born in 1955 and grew up in Newark, Delaware. He attended St. Andrew's School in Middletown, Delaware. At the University of Delaware, he earned a B.A. in English and Anthropology, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. After college he lived in Burlington, Vermont, writing freelance articles, before returning to newspaper work in Delaware and then going west to study fiction writing at the University of Arizona writers workshop. He earned his M.F.A. in Creative Writing in 1981 and almost immediately joined the faculty at Arizona State University as a Visiting Assistant Professor and later as Writer in Residence. He remained at ASU until 1986, then taught for a brief time at Lake Forest College in Illinois before migrating to coastal North Carolina.
Gerard has published fiction and nonfiction in numerous magazines, including New England Review/Bread Loaf Quarterly, Creative Nonfiction, Hawai'i Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, New Letters, Arts & Letters, Fourth Genre, and The World & I. He is the author of three novels: Hatteras Light (Scribners 1986; Blair/ Salem paper 1997, nominated for the Ernest Hemingway Prize), Cape Fear Rising (Blair 1994), Desert Kill (William Morrow 1994; Piatkus in U.K. 1994); and four books of nonfiction, including Brilliant Passage. . . a schooning memoir (Mystic 1989) and Creative Nonfiction-- Researching and Crafting Stories of Real Life (Story Press 1996), which was a selection of the Book-of-the-Month and Quality Paperback Book Clubs. Maryanne Culpepper, director of story development for National Geographic Television, writes, "It is the manual for nonfiction storytellers. . . Creative Nonfiction is on every bookcase at National Geographic Television."
He has written nine half-hour shows for Globe Watch, an international affairs program, for PBS-affiliate WUNC-TV, Chapel Hill, N.C. , and international broadcast, and scripted two hour-long environmental documentaries, one of which, "RiverRun- down the Cape Fear to the Sea," won a Silver Reel of Merit from the International Television Association in 1994. Two of his weekly radio essays have been broadcast on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered."
Gerard's Writing a Book that Makes a Difference (Story Press, 2000), combines his dual passions of writing and teaching. His latest book of nonfiction Secret Soldiers (Dutton 2002; Plume softcover 2004) tells the story of an unlikely band of heroes in World War II: artists who fought the Nazis by creating elaborate scenarios of deception, conjuring phantom armored divisions out of sound effects, radio scripts, pyrotechnics, and inflatable tanks. River Run: Adventuring Through History,Nature, and Politics Down the Cape Fear to the Sea is forthcoming from UNC Press.

He teaches in the BFA and MFA Programs of the Creative Writing Department at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, which he chairs. He has won the Faculty Scholarship Award, the College of Arts & Science Teaching Award, the Chancellor's Medal for Excellence in Teaching, the Graduate Mentor Award, the Board of Trustees Teaching Award, and a Distinguished Teaching Professorship, and the Faculty Excellence Award given by the MFA students. The Philip Gerard Fellowship, endowed by benefactor Charles F. Green III to honor Gerard's work in establishing and directing the MFA program, is awarded annually to an MFA student on the basis of literary merit. Gerard has also been writer in residence at Bradford (MA) College and Old Dominion University (VA), has taught at the Sand Hills and Bread Loaf Writers Conferences, and has conducted workshops at the Chautauqua Institution , the Wildacres Summer Writers Retreat, and the Goucher College summer residency MFA program in Creative Nonfiction.
In keeping with his conviction that writers should give something back to their profession, he has served on the Board of Trustees of the North Carolina Writers Network and from 1995-98 on the Board of Directors of the Associated Writing Programs, for two of those years as President. He has been appointed by Governor Bev Perdue to a second three-year term on the North Carolina Arts Council.

Look for his new book of narrative essays, The Patron Saint of Dreams, from Hub City Press in Spring 2012.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Gerard is an academic and this may go some way to explaining the tone of this book-dry and analytical,told in a prose that refuses to ignite and take the reader by the throat and thus we are left with a book that is ultimately just OK
It is replete with references to clasic American short stories taught by the hero in his college classes-ones in which the macabre seem to predominate(Poe,O,Connor,Faulkner,Shirley Jackson)
The hero is Roy Pope whose uncle is a veteran Phoenix,Arizona cop.Roy becomes involved in a series of murders which sets the city by its heels starting with the discovery of the body of a young woman,found dead and decapitated by the railroad tracks.Several other bodies ,all brutally hacked about ,turn up including several killed years earlier and dumped in the Arizona desert.
Profiling builds up the picture of the killer as a loner,socially functional and possessed of a near genius IQ
The book is the story of the hunt for the killer,taking in sub-plots around sexual abuse and sexual guilt all played out against a well realised Sothwestern backdrop and with ,in Roy a flawed and human protagonist striving to come to terms with a shed load of marriage related guilt
It is the cop uncle-Paul-who is the moral centrepiece of the book and he is a man who in many ways ,by his morality and ethical code represents the old Phoenix,the frontier town rather than the new and modern city.
Neither the villain nor Roy really come alive and to really propel a serial killer novel to the heights you need a stronger bad guy than you get here and more intense action scenes
Its not bad but devotees of the genre will find greater pleasures elsewhere in the literature
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Format: Hardcover
A good ol' boy sheriff and his trusty young sidekick are on the trail of an unknown psychopath who mutilates his victims in unspeakable ways. Sound familiar? While gore fans [sic] may appreciate the author's detailed descriptions of how the victims (gorgeous young women, of course) are chopped up and discarded, I just felt sick. There are some thoughtful characterizations, an all-action climax and a even a final plot twist. But the book ultimately reads like a shallow screenplay, begging to go to Hollywood and land the easy big bucks seemingly available to anyone prepared to plumb the serial killer depths.
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