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The Instant Enemy (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) Paperback – April 8, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Moves fast and is full of surprises. . . . The best work Macdonald has done in years.” —The New York Times“A more serious and complex writer than Chandler and Hammett ever were.”—Eudora Welty“Archer has seldom been in better form, and neither has his estimable creator.” —The New Yorker

About the Author

Ross Macdonald's real name was Kenneth Millar. Born near San Francisco in 1915 and raised in Ontario, Millar returned to the U.S. as a young man and published his first novel in 1944. He served as the president of the Mystery Writers of America and was awarded their Grand Master Award as well as the Mystery Writers of Great Britain's Gold Dagger Award. He died in 1983.
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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307279057
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307279057
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (271 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #764,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Costantino on October 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
I liked this book. A lot. Stephen King is good at writing lengthy novels that don't really scare, but make you think "Hey, that was pretty damn cool". This book isn't very long; but that seems to be of little importance. The fact is that of all the books Stephen King has written, this is the one with the scariest ending. Gypsy curses and the overall moral message of the book "You Are Responsible For Your Actions!" all come to a nice crescendo. An actual feeling of horror (ok, maybe not horror but a feeling of unease) sticks with you after you read the book. There is actual impact in retrospect of this book. It will bother you (provided you possess a soul). By the way, DO NOT SEE THE MOVIE FIRST!!!! It will ruin the book. Read the book first, then watch the horrible movie. If not for anything other than the small part the author plays.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Thriller Lover VINE VOICE on February 9, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
THINNER, which was originally written in 1984, is a very effective novel. I've read most of King's books, and I would place this one in the top half. This book isn't necessarily horrific or scary, but it's pretty suspenseful. Unlike some of King's later books, this novel is short and tightly written, and it kept me interested until the very end.

This novel deals with a overweight lawyer who is rapidly growing thinner, due to a curse inflicted upon him by gypsies. THINNER is unique in the sense that the main character is not a particularly heroic person, and in many ways is trying to escape responsibility for his own actions. This may turn off some readers, but I enjoyed this story's moral complexity. The ending of THINNER won't please everyone, but I felt it was appropriate and consistent with the overall point of the storyline.

This novel isn't a classic, but it's a solid effort by one of the best genre writers around. Highly recommended for King fans.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on February 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
Of the five books that Stephen King published under the pen name of Richard Bachman, three of them involved making the numbers of the chapters part of the story. In "The Running Man" there was a countdown as the game progressed while in "The Long Walk" the miles added up. In "Thinner" each chapter gives us the weight of the protagnoist, Billy Halleck, as it plummets relentlessly down. As with his classic short story about smoking, "Quitters, Inc.," King took an American obsession and turned it into a nightmare come true. The cataylst for Billy's weight loss is that old chesnut, the gypsy curse. While driving one night Billy is, uh, distracted by his wife and runs down the elderly daughter of Tadzu Lempke, the leader of a band of gypsies who have invaded the town. Billy is a lawyer and his friends, the judge and police chief, make sure the woman's death is ruled an accident. But before Billy can celebrate, Tadzu touches him and utters the one word curse: "Thinner."
What makes "Thinner" the best of the Bachman books is that King works a whole bunch of other elements into the story. Unlike his earlier Bachman efforts with tended to be one note (e.g., walk till you drop), "Thinner" pours on the fun. Billy's family and doctors are overjoyed by his weight loss at first, but then it continues at an alarming rate, even as Billy spends all of his time eating everyting in site. They insist it is a psychological problem, or perhaps physiological, but a gypsy curse is beyond their ability to believe. Not so for Richie Ginelli, a mobster who is one of Billy's most grateful clients. Ginelli is old school and his mother knows about gypsy curses, so Richie is more than willing to fight fire with fire. Tadzu curses Billy.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gigi Gruntchen on May 7, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I really enjoyed Thinner. I read it during Halloween for book club. We each chose a Steven King book, and this is the one that I chose. I had seen the movie, so I wanted to read the book. I think the book is a lot better than the movie. I enjoyed this book because of all the taboo things that occurs to the main character. I loved the aspect of the gypsies and this big curse that the main character was dealing with. The idea of how they were going to remove the curse opened a whole new can of worms. I was very interested, and glad to obtain more details about the story from the book than what I got from the movie! I loved the characters in this book, and it was interesting to see how the curse played a key role in their lives as well. Great book!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Warner on June 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I just finished listening to this audiobook, and I really don't know where AudioFile gets off slamming Joe Mantegna's performance. He did a wonderful job with the different character's voices, especially the old gypsy and mobster. His performance certainly kept me entertained while commuting to and from work.

Stephen King also did an admirable job, and I enjoyed the book a lot. It has its warts, but overall it was a clever parable about revenge and indulgence. There was really only one scene that gave me an, "Oh, come on!" reaction, and that was when the main character conveniently encounters the retiree in the bar who tells him the anecdote about the gypsies. What were the chances that in such a crazily crowded resort town that Billy would run into this guy? Kind of thin, I would say. The ending of the story was also a bit predictable, and I think King relied way too heavily on dream sequences as a plotting device.

But still, it was a pretty good book. I particularly admired King's invention of the Italian mobster character as a way to escalate the story's conflict without exacting a price against our sympathy for the main character. If it had been Billy Halleck committing all those deeds--poisoning dogs, shooting cars full of holes, and threatening to kill pretty young women--then we would've liked him a lot less. But by assigning those actions to a secondary character who reacts to these events with shock and abhorrence, the story could advance and leave our sympathy for the main character intact.

Even then, those clever mechanisms of characterization weren't enough for me to completely like Billy Halleck.
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