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The Caveman's Valentine Paperback – February 1, 1995

4.3 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this remarkable first novel, the caveman is Romulus Ledbetter, a Juilliard graduate, husband and father, former mental patient and current resident of a cave in Manhattan's Inwood Park. His valentine is the naked body of Scotty Gales, a homeless former photographer's model. The police say Gales simply froze to death, but Romulus knows that he was killed by agents of the evil Cornelius Gould Stuyvesant, who rules the world from his offices in the Chrysler Building. Sometimes aided--and sometimes humored--by everyone from his daughter Lulu (a police officer) to people he meets on the street, Romulus tracks Scotty's murderer, doggedly following his twisted vision of reality into a world of money and violence where things and people are never what they seem. Although Green's plotting is solid, the narrative draws its power from the superbly realized protagonist. Romulus is that rarity, a truly original character whose fits and rantings retain a dangerous edge and never become lovable tics. Green makes a wonderful debut with this gripping, well-written portrait of modern dislocation and homelessness--although Romulus would object to the latter term: he has a home; it just happens to be in a cave.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Romulus Ledbetter has seen better times. Once a gifted Juilliard student of jazz piano, he fell in love, married, and fathered a daughter who grew up to be a New York City cop. At some point, however, Romulus succumbed to the gremlin voices in his mind, dissolved his home life to inhabit a cave in Inwood Park, and was labeled a paranoid schizophrenic. An unlikely character to turn detective, he feels compelled to do so when the corpse of a beautiful, young homeless man named Scotty Gates lands at his front door. Early leads point suspiciously to the affluent art photographer David Leppenraub, who had adopted Scotty as a teenager and used him as his model. The meanderings of the plot collide and coincide with those of Romulus's confused mind, adding complexity and depth to a suspenseful, quirky, and well-written murder mystery. A first novel, this is recommended for mystery/thriller collections.
- Sheila Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1993 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: 323 pages
  • Publisher: Time Warner Company (February 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446671517
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446671514
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,114,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on July 19, 1998
Format: Paperback
A very fine debut novel by an up and coming new author. The Caveman's Valentine has great characters and a great story. The central character, Romulus Ledbetter, is one of my favorite characters of all time. He's a bum, a vagrant, an intellect, a psychotic, a father, a hero, and just about the most interesting person you'd ever meet. His visions of Stuyvesant as the evil white controller are especially funny. But what really impressed me about this book was Green's impressive ability to move the mystery along without taking away from Ledbetter's conflict with the world around him and with himself. Green does not detract from the real story that interests every reader: what really goes on in the character's head. We read Valentine and feel sorry for Romulus and want him to succeed in whatever he sets out to do. Much of what he says is frank and to the point, which is a way in which we would all like to be. The dialogue and actions of this man are often times d! ownright hilarious. This is a character impossible to forget. While I have gone on endlessly about character and how it plays a great role in this novel, it is important to know that the plot aint to shabby either.
George Dawes Green's "The Caveman's Valentine is a definite "must read" for those of you who like great characters, humorous situations, and lively dialogue. Buy it, read it, and enjoy.
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Format: Paperback
I am a fan of Samuel L. Jackson. He is one of the few actors whose movies I will watch no matter what they are. That is how I stumbled on the film adaption of this book. I loved the movie, and so I went to read the novel. This book is fantastic. First of all, hats off to the film's director for making such a true adaption. And hats off to the author for writing such an increadible book. The character is hysterical and tragic and truely one of the most intriguing people I have ever read about. I wanted this book to go on and on. The characters are complex and the writing style is sharp and unique. The author made me care about what was happening, and that is rare in modern literature. I would recommend this book to anyone, and I am defiantly going to read more of the works of George Dawes Green.
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Format: Paperback
This is a wonderfully crafted mystery. Perhaps more importantly though, in these days of you-gotta-have-a-gimmick mysteries (quilting mystery,cooking mystery,Jane Austen mystery,cab-driver mystery.....) no one has yet to match the unique central character of Caveman's Valentine. Romulus Ledbetter lets us into his world of schizophrenia and, hopefully by the end of the book, the reader understands and gains empathy for this illness that affects one in every hundred people in the U.S.. Romulus captures our attention, our compassion, and our hearts. I salute Mr. Green for finally casting the schizophrenic as the hero in this novel, instead of the killer at the core of far too many mysteries and thrillers to count.
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Format: Paperback
Romulus Ledbetter is the undiscussed relative of his upper-class black family. He's a paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave and is a brilliant pianist, able to make the "Mr. Clean" jingle touching (whoever is scoring the movie is going to go through hell pulling THAT one off.) He also lives in a cave. He's a homeless man with pride.
This mystery is some really sharp stuff. Green writes with a great skill for placing words and creates some often hysterical vignettes and exchanges, but he's very careful, burying clues, motivations, and other crucial information in the text in such a way that it doesn't seem important until you finish and realize there are no cracks in the armor. It's meticulous and excellent.
This is definitely worth a read. It's off the beaten path and a good example of technique, well worth the money.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I can't remember how this book came to my attention but it was probably recommended by a source I trust. While other reviewers have given a pretty good synopsis of this novel, I had to take a step away and try to rationalize how the author came up with this unique and unusual story line. Today, a book written about our (often mentally ill) homeless population would be a timely discourse on our current society. After our federal, state, and local governments began closing mental health facilities and eliminating necessary services in the 1980's, it is not uncommon to see local law enforcement devoting almost half of their time and resources to the incarceration and control of the mentally ill. Having tried to keep tabs on a distant relative who has been diagnosed bipolar and schizophrenic, I have had several interactions with law enforcement officials who are doing the best job that they can under the circumstances. These officials know that jail/prison is not the answer for those afflicted with mental illness and yet they continue to do the best they can with the limited resources available to them.

The main problem in dealing with the mentally ill -- at least the schizophrenics -- is that they often dwell in a world which is different from what we perceive, resulting in aberrant behavior not accepted as "normal" in society. Other people can perceive their actions as dangerous and therefore contact law enforcement to deal with the apparent problem. In reality most people suffering from schizophrenia will do anything possible to avoid unwanted attention. They are well aware of the consequences of being scrutinized by law enforcement personnel.
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