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The Walkaway Paperback – September 30, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (September 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345440218
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345440211
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,367,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Gunther Fahnstiel is an ex-cop with a secret he can't quite remember, which is understandable in an elderly man who's not exactly certain of why he walked away from his Kansas nursing home, either. It has something to do with some missing money, a couple of murders, and a prostitution ring Gunther broke up 10 years ago... or did he? Readers may be confused by the way Phillips handles flashbacks to two different time periods, but they'll like Gunther, who's a complex and mutlidimensional old coot despite his failing memory--or maybe because of it. This darkly funny prequel to The Ice Harvest, Phillips's earlier crime novel, is populated by a cast of interesting and picaresque characters, some of whom make their second appearance here. --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Phillips turns the image of Kansas heartland virtue upside down in his latest noir thriller set in Wichita's underbelly, in which all the big city problems drugs, prostitution, corrupt cops and psycho killers are present on a somewhat smaller and seedier scale. The year is 1989, and Gunther Fahnstiel, a retired cop in the memory-loss ward of an expensive nursing home, escapes to wander through a Wichita he only intermittently recognizes. His mission: to find a briefcase of money he buried in a rock quarry 10 years before. His wife, Dot, suspects what he's up to, though she doesn't know where he is; what she does know is that the money has already been dug up and spent, on Gunther's care among other things. Gunther's stepson, Sidney, to whom Gunther once gave $12,000 to buy a strip joint, attempts a payback by setting up a reward in the same amount for anyone who finds Gunther. This motivates sleazy Eric Gandy to search for Gunther; Eric is the son-in-law of Sally Ogden, who used to coordinate orgies at the rock quarry. With this information in place, Phillips segues into the book's other time frame 1952 in which readers are treated to first-person narratives by the menacing Wayne Ogden, Sally's husband, as he goes on a crime spree, and the younger Gunther, as he tracks Wayne down. In what's identified as "both a prequel and a sequel" to The Ice Harvest, Phillips pens a story full of blood and bad attitude.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 18 customer reviews
It's hard to know what to expect in a book by Scott Phillips.
Dana King
Finally, I had to give in and realize the book was going nowhere, but darned if I would quit.
Miss Terry Reader
The novel works as a literary achievement as well as a top-notch crime tale.
Victor Gischler

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Untouchable on October 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is an interesting, character-heavy book, which relives the past while living through a present-day upheaval. The upheaval in question revolves around Gunther Fahnstiel who has walked out of his nursing home without any of the nursing staff noticing. Naturally his family is beside themselves and are very keen to have him found again. Gunther was in the nursing home because of the steady onset of senility. He's an ex-policeman and believes that he has some urgent unfinished business to take care of, leading him through the streets of Wichita, Kansas.
The time setting switches from chapter to chapter, taking us from 1989 back to 1952. The chapters about the earlier years are all written from a third person perspective, but the person whose perspective it is coming from changes in each chapter providing very interesting insights into each character.
Through Gunther's slipping mind it becomes clear that something very important happened in 1952 that has affected Gunther and most of the other characters in the book quite deeply. Gunther is drawn back to the place it all happened thinking he has some loose ends to tie up and so, all plotlines are inevitably drawn along with him, providing a satisfying, yet somewhat wistful ending.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Scott Phillips has managed to both top his sparkling debut The Ice Harvest and create expectation for what he might do next. This novel within a novel -- the story takes places in two different time periods and in several voices -- is just as violent, funny, and well written as Phillips' debut while maintaining a fascinating narrative thread. Only two books into his career and already Phillips has to be considered one of the best in the business. A great read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Victor Gischler on November 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
After reading ICE HARVEST, I could not wait to get my hands on Phillips' next novel. If it had been another pulp yarn in the vein of his first novel, I would have been plenty satisfied. But THE WALKAWAY goes far beyond expectations. It is a sophistcated book showcasing Phillips' deft skills as an author. He expertly handles different times and points of view. The novel works as a literary achievement as well as a top-notch crime tale.
There's a lot of [stuff] to wade through out there in the book stores -- same-old-same-old cops-n-robbers plodding through the usual formulas. It was a breath of fresh air to read a novel with ambition and style.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T.L. Lankford on November 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"The Ice Harvest" was my favorite book of 2000. With "The Walkaway" Scott Phillips confirmed my suspicions that he is one of the best writers working today. Yes, there are many characters and overlapping storylines in this book. So what? I had no trouble whatsoever following these stories, and the subtle emotional payoff that was delivered as they all tied together was an original, unexpected delight. Phillips doesn't write for dummies. He's hunting big game on the literary frontier. And with this book he has bagged a winner. He manages to combine deadpan humor, stark reality and deep, resonant emotions in a way unique to the current spate of by-the-numbers best sellers clogging the bookstores. I can't wait to see what he does next!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Neil Smith on November 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
THe Ice Harvest was a dark piece of noir, very funny and painfully good. With this one, Phillips paints several pictures at once, all a little different, all building to a great story. I like the fracture of different points of view, giving me more depth than a single POV, more complication added to the richness.
And still, he's just drop dead funny in the darkest sense, which is the best sense.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I found the Walkaway to be a compelling and dark novel about memory and crime. It's not a mystery in the conventional gumshoe sense, though at its heart it is a convincing tale about crime and the way crime dominoes into lives. Both funny and chilling, The Walkway is the Ice Harvest times two: twice the characters, twice the violence, twice the emotional significance. If you loved The Ice Harvest, you'll cherish The Walkaway.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I don't normally read "crime fiction" (or whatever this is) but I really enjoyed Phillips' first book, "The Ice Harvest," which created a neat, sweaty mood and sustained it.
The twist ending of that book sets up the beginning of this book, but you really don't need to have read that one to enjoy this one. Again, it's a well-written story of greed and lust and rage, set in a small Midwestern town. I couldn't put it down.
Two notes: First, as has been noted by other reviewers, there are multiple points of view here and two different time frames. You'll be well-served to take notes on the characters' names and who they are, what their relationships are, etc. This isn't Dostoyevsky, but there are a lot of names here and the relationships and time frames are pretty tangled. Half the fun, of course, is unravelling all of it (especially the relationships), but a simple list of characters would have helped. The publisher should really consider doing that in the paperback edition.
Second, as a result of keeping the notes above, I realized that one character is referred to by two different names, with no narrative reason or explanation. The character is "Carswell" who is also referred to in a couple of places as "Gladwell." I think it's just a mistake or an editorial problem or something. That should also definitely be corrected in future editions.
This is a well-written book, with a lot of depth, an interesting plot, and some despicable characters doing nasty things to each other - and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible.
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