Customer Reviews: The Adjustment
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on October 21, 2010
Now that this book has been published, I can say that my original 5 star review has been earned.
This slim volume packs more sex and violence into 217 pages than you'd find in an early 1970s drive in triple feature!
Scott Phillips keeps a consistent tone by staying within the viewpoint of his deranged, self serving, sexually driven narrator Wayne Ogden, back in Wichita from the gravy train that WW2 was to him as a supply sergeant- i.e. pimp, black marketeer, murderer, extortionist. Now back in the states, he's forced into the narrower confines as wing man to the wealthiest man around,Collins, a whoring drunk maintaining a shaky hold over Collins Aircraft. Wayne needs to stay on his toes to assess threats to his boss and his livelihood and to figure out where to use his Army training and where to just apply brute force or natural cunning.
This is a deliciously nasty read that manages to show a lot about American History without lecturing. Not for the faint of heart, perhaps, but anyone who appreciates a little extra rough in their rough and tumble should get this book right away.

ORIGINAL REVIEW from 2010- According to Scott Phillips, author of this book, Phoenix Books had intended to publish this novel in September 2010. Instead, they went bankrupt in the Spring of 2010 and the listing remains for a book that doesn't quite exist.
THE ADJUSTMENT will be published, though, in September 2011 by COUNTERPOINT PRESS.
While I agree that it's not quite fair to rate a book I haven't seen, it is the only way Amazon makes available for me to pass this information along. The five star rating is the average for all three other Scott Phillips books- juicy, raunchy, sexy, violent, well researched books about Wichita and points beyond that will put you in mind of the good citizens of DEADWOOD or the spare black humor of Charles Willeford. The titles are The ICE HARVEST, The WALKAWAY and COTTONWOOD.
You can thank me later.
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on September 18, 2011
After the first chapter, I thought this was going to be a plot-driven thriller. Instead, I got a character sketch of a smart, sleazy schemer taking down anyone and everyone who happens to enter his field of vision. Taut, well-researched, and dark as hell. Great book.
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on August 9, 2011
Wayne Ogden has things pretty sweet. WWII is over. He's back in Wichita, the nominal head of Publicity and Marketing at Collins Aviation. His real job is making sure company chieftain Everett Collins has a good time, all the time. But Wayne's feeling chafed at even that much responsibility, hemmed in by his wife Sally and the prospect of fatherhood, and nostalgic for his glory days as a crooked supply sergeant and pimp during his Army hitch. And someone is sending him anonymous threatening letters, intent on settling his hash for one of the countless crimes he committed during the war. It's enough to drive a good man crazy - or a bad man to plot for a better tomorrow.

A truly reprehensible character, Wayne is conniving, opportunistic, utterly unfeeling. And I loved every minute in his company. Scott Phillips has crafted one of the finest contemporary versions of a classic pulp novel that's also a savage send-up of the American dream. The Adjustment reads like Jim Thompson's version of Revolutionary Road. Profane, perverse, startling and always funny, it's one of my favorite books of the year.
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on December 17, 2012
Everyone has a writer about whom they say, "No one else writes like this." Excepting the times the phrase is used as a meaningless platitude (which is too often), this means the author in question has gotten off the main trail and is finding his or her own way and no one is likely to follow because it's scary down there. No light, no handholds, forks and switchbacks that can get you lost in a heartbeat, never to be heard from again. Sheer rock wall to your left, a thousand-foot drop on your right, and the path is a foot-and-a half wide. Then there's the bridge across the Gorge of Eternal Peril, where if you fail to give the right answers, your bones will join the others strewn about, the careers of writers who lacked the courage of, and confidence in, their convictions. They should have turned back a long time ago.

James Ellroy's name comes up a lot in such discussions, with good reason. My personal favorite is Scott Phillips.

In The Adjustment, Phillips builds his story around a thoroughly unlikeable character (Wayne Ogden). Ogden is a true sociopath, a small-town version of Warren Zevon's "Mr. Bad Example." Wayne's greedy and he's angry and he doesn't care who he crosses. He likes to have a good time, and he doesn't care who gets hurt. Really. Times two.

It's not that Ogden is amoral. He knows what the right thing to do is most of the time, and is willing to do it, so long as it doesn't interfere with what he wants or feels like doing at the time. He puts up with his pregnant wife's abysmal cooking because he feels bad when he hurt her feelings one time, then goes out a sleeps with pretty much whoever will have him. He's a strong advocate on condoms, though it's primarily because the clap will keep him from getting laid as often as he'd like. This is 1946, so AIDS is not an issue for Wayne. Pregnancy is an issue, but only for his partners.

That's an unappealing picture, and Phillips does nothing to soften Ogden's aura. Writing in the first person, no apologies are made for Ogden's actions or attitudes. He is what he is and you can take him or leave him. Ogden's okay either way, and he's too busy to talk you into anything. It's the matter-of-factness that makes the book so readable, that and Phillips's wit, which is considerable. By "wit," I don't mean what passes for wit in popular culture today, Judd Apatow least common denominator cleverness (which, admittedly, can be quite funny), but the dryness present in Thurber or Robert Benchley. Not that either Thurber or Benchley would touch a character like Wayne Ogden with a cattle prod. You'll read the description of an unsavory, heavy R-rated action through Ogden's eyes and find a smile growing at the same time your conscience is stripping off its clothes, looking for a place to burn them.

The Adjustment is not for everyone. (Including, I believe, Phillip's agent at the time.) You may find yourself smiling at things that are only funny from Ogden's perspective. The writing will bring the smile, but any self-aware reader will be unable to escape what an unsavory narrator he is. If you enjoy atypical novels written with understated panache and don't mind spending time with a main character who will screw your wife and piss in your drink while you're in the bathroom, you really ought to check it out.
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on July 15, 2011
In The Adjustment, Scott Phillips takes America's sacred cows and gleefully grounds them into hamburger. Wayne Ogden, a fixer in the marketing department of the Collins Aircraft company in post-WWII Wichita, is not exactly a poster boy for the Greatest Generation. Wayne has bypassed a nodding acquatintance with the Seven Deadly Sins; they've become best friends. The Adjustment is wicked, well-written fun. It's Candide by way of Celine.
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on July 15, 2011
Wayne Ogden is pretty much a reprehensible human being. But Scott Phillips sure as hell makes him a lot of fun to hang out with. Every character in this story is, for better or worse, memorable. Five stars ain't enough to measure how much fun I had with this little package of nastiness.

Setting, humor (lots of that), great dialogue, perfectly drawn characters. It's got it all. For folks who aren't overly timid in their reading, this one is perfect.
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VINE VOICEon October 13, 2012
The Adjustment is entry number four in Scott Phillips' Kansas based series of novels. The other three being The Ice Harvest, The Walkaway and Cottonwood. The narratives of all four books are intertwined in one way or another with The Adjustment most closely related to The Walkaway.

It should be noted that The Adjustment contains an abundance of graphically explicit sexual material. So if you are easily offended do not read this book.

Wayne Ogden provides the narration. The year is 1946. Wayne is newly returned to Wichita from the war in Europe and is rapidly developing a case of reverse PTSD. As a Master Sergeant in the Quartermaster Corps stationed first in London then in Rome, Wayne did not want the war to ever end. He was having the time of his life as a successful mover and shaker in black market commerce, as well as being a pimp. At his heart, Ogden is not a very nice man and would probably be in prison if not for his above average intelligence. His actions are driven by selfishness and an insatiable sexual appetite.

Civilian living just does not agree with him. He can barely tolerate domestic life and is becoming fed up with the semi-legit job he has as babysitter and procurer for Everett Collins, founder and president of Collins Aircraft.

Scott Phillips pulls no punches as he acquaints the reader with the despicable yet ever fascinating Wayne Ogden. This is a very smoothly written, no holds barred novel that dares to tell its story from the point of view of an amoral individual. An enthusiatic five stars.
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on December 14, 2011
If you like your Noir as dark as possible this is a book for you. The protagonist has almost no redeeming qualities. Well he does love his wife when he's not bedding other girls, and he has a sense [if warped] of justice. A fun read
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on October 10, 2011
Scott Phillips has done it again! I've always thought his novel THE ICE HARVEST was a modern classic on the level with James M. Cain and Jim Thompson. This time Phillips paints a dark and compelling portrait of post WWII Wichita, Kansas, using his "badman" Wayne Ogden to press the action. Phillips is unafraid to create in Ogden that dark side of humanity that is charismatic and addictive...and, yes, he's a little guy taking down bigger corporate forces. Even though the novel takes place in the post WWII era, it resonates and feels utterly relevent to the forces at work today that would drive returning vets to crime...the writing, tight dialogue and plot come together into a perfect hardboiled stew of blood, revenge and mayhem. Another winner from Phillips.
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on June 16, 2016
Another stunning display of country pulp western noir. My favorite thing about this book is my favorite thing about books in general. I love when a sentence or chapter leads me into a whole other realm or genre for a spell. In this case Phillips referenced the Machine in Kansas City shortly after Pendergast died which reminded me how I have always wanted to research the vivid organized criminal history in Kansas City. So I thank you Mr. Phillips for yet another awesome portrayal of what really goes in our secret, sordid lives of vice, greed, avarice and lust. I wonder what the world would be like if people were more honest and did not pretend to be well. I find it interesting how nearly every loud mouthed republican, religious fanatic or preacher raging against the sin of drugs and homosexuality always gets caught getting two dollar squeezers high on trucker crank.
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