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Fallen Idols (Freedman, J. F.) Hardcover – June 3, 2003


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The Fifth Gospel: A Novel
"One part The Da Vinci Code, one part The Name of the Rose and one part A Separate Peace ... A smart, swift, multitextured tale that both entertains and informs ... As much a blazingly good yarn as it is an exceptional piece of scholarship." — San Francisco Chronicle See more books by Ian Caldwell

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Beyond lust, beyond vengeance, beyond murder lie the dark truths of retirement planning, all of them revealed in this flabby suspense novel by Freedman (Bird's-Eye View, etc.). When famed archeologist Walt Gaines ends up with unexplained wealth and a girlfriend half his age a year after his wife was killed on a Central American dig, his sons grow suspicious. Stolid yuppies that they are, they investigate by delving into Walt's asset portfolio, which they wheedle out of a succession of real estate agents, brokers and pension administrators in scenes that carry all the electricity of an appointment with a financial professional. The trail leads them to an illicit market for Mayan relics and the lair of a guerrilla chieftain, with nonviolent and inconsequential results, before the final revelation that readers will have seen coming a mile off. Freedman fills out the slack narrative with random, banal details ("he paid with his mileage-plus Visa card and put the Dodge Neon Hertz rental car on the same card"), a few solemn sex scenes and many lengthy exchanges of pop-psychology truisms ("We can't live in our grief forever, or it'll pull us under") with which Walt and his sons hash out their tepid sibling and Oedipal rivalries. Something might have been made of the Indiana Jonesish archeological noir premise, but Freedman's impoverished prose ("this [jaguar] was so unique a sighting that it had to have an incredible meaning to match its specialness") flattens the most exotic settings.-- was so unique a sighting that it had to have an incredible meaning to match its specialness") flattens the most exotic settings.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"FALLEN IDOLS is a compelling story, taut, moving, and wonderfully told." -- Robert Parker
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Product Details

  • Series: Freedman, J. F.
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books; First Edition edition (June 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446531898
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446531894
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,314,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I had just finished reading a Freedman hardcover book, and I wanted to read more Freedman.
Brian M Gordon
In this book you will find a staggering slow plot, inane and contrived dialogue, flat boring unbelievable characters and a completely unsatisfying (anti)climax.
Regina M. Cassady
I would have given this book a three star rating if I hadn't been so upset about the many typos -- sometimes as many as two or more on one page.
Patricia Wardell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Gary Turner on September 20, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is my fourth Freedman novel, having read "Above the Law", "The Disappearance" and "Bird's Eye View" prior to "Fallen Idols". What I have always loved about this author's work is his ability to captivate me with a mystery from the start, then keep me guessing until the end. This book did neither.

The book centers around a renowned archaeologist, Walt Gaines, and his wife, Jocelyn. When Jocelyn is killed at the end of a dig, Walt and his three adult sons are devastated. After the funeral, Walt quits his job at the University of Wisconsin, moves to California and severs practically all contact with his family.

The sons investigate, and find a lifestyle that is inconsistent with Walt's means. As they investigate, they find that there may be more to their mother's death than they had been led to believe. This, coupled with Walt's mysterious new life spurs them on to discover all they can find out about the past.

While a fascinating character study, I found the book to be slow in places and missing the aforementioned formula that makes this author a favorite.

This one is far from being a priceless relic.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
To date, I have read all of J.F. Freedman's books and wish I had quit while I was ahead. This is like wanting to remember the dearly departed as young, healthy, and appealing instead of puny, wasting, later years. I hope the author returns to more likeable characters and more thrilling plot. This is NOTHING like "Bird's Eye View " It is a shame !
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Larry Scantlebury on November 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I like Mr. Freedman's writing, and having read several of them "Against the Wind" remains one of my favorites. "Fallen Idols" won't share that praise.
It becomes mundane. The progeny of suspicion is generally more suspicion. But all of this gestalt theorizing (did dad kill mom?)could be addressed by normal familial cofrontation. "Dad. How did you end up widowed and with 4 million dollars?"
Will's sons are all extremely intelligent. Walt Gaines' is highly intelligent. Their mother was highly intelligent. So. Ask him!
When Jocelyn Gaines, also a Professor like her husband Walt, is killed on a archeological dig headed by her husband, the family unites for the tragic farewell. Briefly following that dad drifts of to lala land, figuratively and literally.
There's a lot of places here for confrontation and love and therapy and the like, but these adult, highly gifted men walk around saying lines that would get rejected in a "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" script.
Good story; painful but somewhat insightful look at families. Poor dialogue, poor prose.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Booknazi on June 11, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I had never heard of this author before seeing the HC on the bargain rack but the price and gloss-synopsis on the dust jackets played me like a chameleon. "What you see isn't what you get" should have been the tagline or perhaps - "a fool and his money are soon parted". This is pehaps the very worst book I have ever forced myself to finish cover-to-cover. The bloated detailing made me think that I was actually rading the production notes on a screenplay. The trademarked brand name-dropping became so trite halfway through the book that I looked up it here to be sure I wasn't just irrational. I found several reviewers remarking on the same. One quipped that the book was in desperate need of an editor & another talked of the 60 page story fluffed out to 500. It's all true. What's even worse is the "for pay" endorsement by Robert Parker. I assume this because the quote attributed to him is pure B.S. It is neither "compelling", "taut" nor "wonderfully told". All I can say for my experience was that I was too stubborn to close it and discard.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Anne Monteith on September 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I was rather disappointed in this book, I have come to expect much more from him.

There's too many unnecessary details about the children that make this book slow reading. The plot line is predictable. I actually started it three times before I was able to get interested enough to finish.

I regret that I paid retail and did not wait to get a a used book store. It is sometimes hard to find his books there, but they had several copies of this one. I imagine many other local readers were disappointed also.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Oliver Towne on November 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
What you have here is about 60 pages of material stretched out to 498 pages. I can't believe I actually read the first 350 or so. It's as if Freedman and his publisher colluded to create a massive waste of time. The story is set up early and then goes nowhere for an eternity. Finally, when you can't stand the pointless descriptions and stagnant plot, you might be tempted to skip to the end. Unfortunately, at this point, it becomes clear that the author never intended for you to figure anything out until you had read about 400 pages. The ending is not only clumsy, but of a very "deus-ex-machina" nature; that is, there was never any reason to suspect the true culprit except that there was never any reason to suspect the true culprit. (Yes, I know that sounds redundant, but then the whole novel is an exercise in repetition. My sympathy if you paid for the hardcover version.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Todd, compulsive reader on July 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I'll admit to being a bit disappointed by this book. Not because it was a bad book, but just because I've come to expect better from this author (I've read all his other books also).
The story begins at a high-profile archaeological dig in Central America, and then moves to the efforts of a famous archaeologist to distance himself from an unfortunate events there, and his three sons attempts to unravel the mystery. The premise of the book captured my interest, but the execution of the story was a bit underwhelming, and some elements struck me as downright implausible (the sons' ability to dig into their parent's financial dealings at will didn't ring true, nor did the identity & described behavior of the "day-trader" in the book's final chapter).
This book asks the question: "How well do we really know our loved ones?" An intriguing question, but after reading this book, I'm not sure I ever truly got to know any of these characters, or cared enough to want to. Not a bad book, but character development in this one is not up to the level of earlier works such as "The Disappearance" or "The Obstacle Course", at least in my opinion.
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