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The Minus Man Paperback – August 26, 1999


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It is an eerie, rueful tale Vann Siegert tells in McCreary's ( Mount's Mistake ) startling second novel. After a cross-country move from his native Oregon to a small Massachusetts town called Bledsoe, Vann is soon looking for employment, a place to live and victims. Vann is a serial killer who poisons hitchhikers from a flask of Southern Comfort laced with lethal sedgwort. "Go ahead and help yourself" are the last words these unsuspecting riders hear. In Bledsoe, Vann finds temporary work in the post office and victims aplenty. What sets this work apart from the usual serial-killer saga is the tone. In an uninflected but quietly impassioned voice, Vann relates the murders and bits and pieces of his own dark history--his mother, for instance, used to tie him to a chair in the cellar when he was a boy. Painfully self-aware and clearly suffering, Vann is a troubled, memorable character.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

On the plus side, The Minus Man is consistent in its message: there may be more meaning in death than in life. What happens in between life and death for most people is of little importance. Therefore, Vann Siegert, a serial killer with a gentle modus operandi, poisoning, is doing the world and his victims a favor by putting them out of their misery. On the minus side, the overall theme of this novel is so depressing, readers may lose interest before the ending, which holds little payoff. Since this novel is written in a first-person narrative, one would anticipate being able to get into the mind of the central character, but it is difficult to relate to Vann, whose thoughts and actions repeat themselves over and over again. A marginal purchase.
- Sue Mevis, Ludlow Memorial Lib., Monroe, Wis.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1st Grove Press Ed edition (August 26, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802136745
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802136749
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #513,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
I have read this book when it was published 4 or 5 years ago. It was Anne Rice (!) that praised the novel in the New York Times Review talking about great fiction and regreting that modern fiction was poorly written (she has since denied herself by writing poor executed popular fiction for teenagers). Anyway, the point is that this book feels like nothing you've read about the subject -serial killer- before. It is more like an inside monologue. Don't expect cheap thrills, or killer-on-the-loose-page-turner.
Sometimes weird, often hypnotizing,The Minus Man deserves to be successful. I hope that the movie coming out (good or bad) will give this book a second chance.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By aaron narocka on January 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
It's so simple and that is scary.With this story we get to see inside the mind of a simple man.A simple man that simply kills.His habit of killing is the equivalent to a nicotine addiction.He simply needs his fix and he doesn't have to go to great lengths to get it.A drop of some poison as easy as buying a pack of cigarettes. I loved this book but I have to admit that I had the ADVANTAGE of seeing the movie first.Owen Wilson is so damn lovable and cute and that made the story so damn terrifying.It is a completely believable work of fiction.I'm not sure what you should do first---rent the movie or read the book. Whichever order, make sure you do both.
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By Bpollen on April 12, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Come on in. Come into the mind of a serial killer. What does he think while he's killing someone? Does he feel remorse afterwards? Does he fight it, but succumb to an overpowering need to kill? Or is it simply part of who he is, what he does. He brushes his teeth, sleeps at night, eats, kills people, goes to work, watches tv? How long has he been doing it? You learn a bit of his past, but not everything. There is always a question about him, in my mind. All these things take you along on a ride with a very disturbed fellow who doesn't look or act disturbed, on the surface. That's what makes him so dangerous. Owen Wilson played him in the movie, and he fit the bill to a tee. A seemingly sweet fellow, considerate, quiet but not shy. A clean cut young man that anyone would want as a son. The story is narrated by the lead character, the killer. So you get to know him (as much as anyone can know such a person). It is chilling to see how his mind works. An interesting read, for those who are interested in macabre sort of books and in killers, true life or fiction. I found it chilling and fascinating. Written well, with the plot moving forward at a reasonable clip. Other interesting characters, also. Well worth the small cost.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Josh Mauthe on June 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
It's unlikely that you've ever read anything quite like The Minus Man, a book about a serial killer that plays out more like a quietly unsettling drama than a thriller. The Minus Man is narrated by Vann Siegert, a quiet, likeable loner who carries a poisoned flask with him in his glove compartment. McCreary has created a fascinating, enigmatic character in Siegert, whose stream-of-consciousness thought processes are filled with philosophical musings, self-awareness, a damaged psyche, and yet a quiet humanity as well. This is not a plot-driven tale or a gripping thriller; rather, it's a psychological study of a deeply damaged human being, one who acts in a way he himself does not always understand, even as he finds himself driven to kill again and again. Siegert's mind is a fascinating place, and McCreary's beautiful and poetic writing gives the book an unsettling and eerie mood that lingers long after the last page is turned. There's a story here, about Siegert's stay in a small town and his relationship with his landlords and their co-workers, but that's never the book's focus; instead, we follow Vann's wanderings and musings, ranging from his childhood to his imagined interrogation by detectives who will one day capture him. The Minus Man is definitely not a book for all tastes; many will find it dull, or complain that nothing happens, or be frustrated by how oblique Vann remains, even after spending so much time in his head. But for those who are up for its subtle, strange charms, it's a quiet masterpiece of psychological drama, a beautiful piece of writing, and a quietly unnerving tale.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of his best movies. It starts slow for maybe 6 to 8 minutes, it then makes you think about taking anything from a stranger. Especially the quiet ones.

Really great, SEMPER FI
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By W.W. on August 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
People who were let down by this novel, I think, don't appreciate the keen psychological insights that make this novel truly disturbing. I think they'd rather read works in which the villains are over-the-top and, therefore, not plausible, to validate their own rigidly held beliefs about people and the nature of evil. Vann's character goes in the complete opposite direction. He is, in the truest sense, an "anti-hero," a nobody, and the nothingness he feels--and the odd intimate connections he gets from killing--has a lot to say about the disconnect felt by so many Americans, which they try to mask with drugs, mindless entertainment, and religion. Vann is a true existentialist ghost. He reminds me a lot of Meursault, in Camus's The Stranger.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As good as the movie was, this is even better.
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