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Red Leaves Paperback – June 5, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this affecting, if oddly flat, crime novel from Edgar-winner Cook (The Chatham School Affair), Eric Moore, a prosperous businessman, watches his safe, solid world disintegrate. When eight-year-old Amy Giordano, whom Eric's teenage son, Keith, was babysitting, disappears from her family's house, many believe Keith is an obvious suspect, and not even his parents are completely convinced that he wasn't somehow involved. As time passes without Amy being found, a corrosive suspicion seeps into every aspect of Eric's life. That suspicion is fed by Eric's shaky family history-a father whose failed plans led from moderate wealth to near penury, an alcoholic older brother who's never amounted to much, a younger sister fatally stricken with a brain tumor and a mother driven to suicide. Not even Eric's loving wife, Meredith, is immune from his doubts as he begins to examine and re-examine every aspect of his life. The ongoing police investigation and the anguish of the missing girl's father provide periodic goads as Eric's futile attempts to allay his own misgivings seem only to lead him into more desperate straits. The totally unexpected resolution is both shocking and perfectly apt.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Cook's latest is proof that he is maturing into a gifted storyteller. An eight-year-old girl is missing. The police quickly zero in on her baby-sitter, Keith Moore. Keith's parents proclaim his innocence, but his father, Eric, has his own secret doubts. The way the author tells the story, it really doesn't matter whether Keith is guilty or not; what matters is the way the Moore family slowly disintegrates, as his parents deal in their own ways with the possibility that their son may be a monster. The novel is narrated by Eric; perhaps the story might have been slightly more effective if it were told in the third person, so we could watch Eric fall apart (rather than listen to him tell us about it), but that's nit-picking. In terms of its emotional depth and carefully drawn characters, this is one of Cook's best novels. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (June 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156032341
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156032346
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #951,217 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

THOMAS H. COOK was born in Fort Payne, Alabama, in 1947. He has been nominated for the Edgar Award seven times in five different categories. He received the best novel Edgar for The Chatham School Affair, the Martin Beck Award, the Herodotus Prize for best historical short story, and the Barry for best novel for Red Leaves, and has been nominated for numerous other awards.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By SayWhen on February 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I love most of Cook's books, and his ability to weave two stories in one book, simultaneously, is impressive. His stories are always page-turners, however, Red Leaves is like a diet version of Cook. Less calories but also less flavor.

There are several flaws:

1. Neither the parents nor the babysitter looked in on the little girl.

2. If Keith was such a sulky, suspicious boy, WHY did the parents ever trust him to babysit?

3. The real kidnapper leaves cigarette butts outside the victim's window and that doesn't immediately solve the case?

I finished the book in 2 sittings. It was interesting, hence the 3 stars, but this story was just too implausible. It is not Cook at his best. The characters are simply dull. You can't sympathize with the accused. You can't even feel bad about all the unecessary injustices because the story is just not as convincing as the drama it unfolds could be.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Lorene Robbins on July 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The entire atmosphere of Red Leaves by Thomas Cook is depressing. While Eric and Meredith's teen-aged son, Keith, is babysitting for a little girl, the little girl disappears. Suspicion immediately falls upon Keith and in what is probably the saddest part of the book, rather than receiving the love and support of his parents, he has to face their suspicion as well as that of everyone else. Oh sure, they do the right things-- they bring in a lawyer, they mouth the right words to the police, but they don't REALLY believe that their son is not guilty of what he is accused.

Under the pressure of the investigation, the family slowly deteriorates as Eric stops trusting Meredith and vice versa. Eric and Meredith are not particularly likeable people, and I can't say for sure whether Keith is likeable or not since Cook portrays him so intently as a sullen teen-aged boy.

There are several surprise twists at the end of the book, as well as a few holes in the plot-- who WAS driving the car that brought Keith home the night of the babysitting, and how was the little girl spirited out of the house without anybody's knowledge? However, it was a book that was impossible to put down.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"Family photos always lie," is the first line of "Red Leaves," Thomas Cook's stunning new novel about a family under pressure. The eloquent narrator, Eric Moore, owns a camera and photo shop and photography is a motif that permeates the novel. Snapshots capture people at particular moments in their lives, but it is impossible to look at pictures and really know what lies behind the posed smiles.

"Red Leaves" is the story not just of Eric Moore, but of his dead mother and bitter father, his shiftless brother, Warren, his wife, Meredith, and his son, Keith. By the end of the novel, Eric has ample reason to reevaluate everything that he has assumed about each one of these individuals. He achieves "the high wisdom that only the fallen know" the hard way, through bitter experience.

Eric, Meredith, and fifteen-year-old Keith live in a beautiful home in a small town, and life is good. Meredith has a job she adores, teaching English and handling administrative duties in a local junior college. One Friday evening, Keith is asked to baby-sit for eight-year-old Amy Giordano. He agrees and everyone's lives change. The next morning, Amy is not in her bed, and her parents are crazy with worry. Who abducted their little girl? Is she still alive? Since Keith was apparently the last person to see her, suspicion naturally falls on him. The police are particularly interested in the fact that Keith is a reserved and awkward boy with few friends and low self-esteem.

Throughout the book, Cook maintains a high level of suspense, using foreshadowing and opening each section of the book with cryptic comments by the narrator made after the events of this novel have already taken place.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. Hagen on August 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Like others who didn't find this read a spectacular one, I am surprised at how many 5 stars this book has received. Cook's a good writer & this was an interesting enough story but I found nothing much to LOVE about it. My problems w/ this book are:

1. none of the characters, even the young son, were very likable so I didn't care about any of their fates.
2. a HUGE PROBLEM mentioned several other times here is that it is not at all believable that the girls parents didn't check on their young daughter when they got home & relieved the babysitter. Keith, the babysitter, hadn't checked on her himself since 8:30 PM & the parents got back at 10PM. So we're supposed to believe that no one looked in on her from 8:30 pm until the next morning.
3. It's not believabe that cops wouldn't have looked more into pizza delivery guy.
4. My kids are not teens yet but I find it hard to believe that a dad would allow his son to completely lock him out of his bedroom especially after the son has been accused of possible kidnapping/murder/rape. Keith wouldn't allow dad in his room & only opened the door 2 inches when they spoke to each other through the door. Dad didn't even force his way in when he thought his kid may have been smoking pot in there. Yes, he goes in twds the end of the story but so much has gone on by then that it makes no sense. I'm supposed to believe that the parents wouldn't have searched this mystery room while the kid was at school one day?
5. Unanswered question about how Keith actually got home that night. I only saw one other poster complain about this issue. I re-read last few chapters to see if I missed something & I'm still confused. Are we supposed to assume that Keith's girlfriend dropped him off? It's never addressed.
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