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A Conspiracy of Tall Men Hardcover – June 23, 1998

3.2 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Noah Hawley quickly sucks us into his loopy, frightening first thriller by creating a perfect world of present-tense paranoia. "Here among the tabouli salads and unprocessed soy drinks the three conspiracy theorists meet each week to discuss developments in the interconnected network of plots driving the world toward a new order," he writes about the lunches that his hero--Linus Owens, a 35-year-old professor of conspiracy theory at Modesto College in San Rafael, California--has with his two friends. "Edward and Roy, despite Roy's innocuous job at Radio Shack and Edward's mostly shut-in status, are cutting-edge anarchists, publishers of anarchic newsletters, organizers of the new virtual revolution. Linus, in contrast, feels sheltered in the fat nest of academia. Sometimes he doubts his phone is even bugged...." But when Claudia, the perfectly normal wife he has somehow managed to acquire, is apparently killed in a plane crash on her way to Brazil (Owens thought she was in Chicago visiting her mother), he has to leave that fat nest and move out into what passes for the real world. It's a place where CIA agents lie about being FBI agents, where his wife's advertising business has sinister connections, and where nothing--or everything--is what he and his crazy companions think it is. --Dick Adler

From Publishers Weekly

Orwellian echoes haunt this provocative, tongue-in-cheek debut chiller about bureaucratic mind control. When the feds fly Linus Owens, a professor of conspiracy theory at a small San Francisco college, to Florida to identify his wife's body at the site of a terrorist airliner bombing, he's devastated to learn she was on her way to Brazil with a secret lover. Mistrustful of the government, Linus coerces the airline into supplying him with the plane's unaltered passenger list and sets out with a pair of fellow conspiracy analysts to find the radicals responsible for his wife's death. After the three academics pull off some fancy computer hacking, Linus escapes the spying eyes of his pill-popping, neurotic "FBI" (really CIA) babysitter and heads cross-country to track the culprits to their lair. Marital infidelity, an enigmatic terrorist group called Danton, the long-forgotten disappearance of a talk-radio rabble-rouser, pharmaceutical intrigue involving clandestine trials of a mind-control drug, government-orchestrated kidnapping and murder all figure in the plot. Linus's search turns up more dead ends than a street map of Washington, D.C., until, by the end of this suspenseful, cerebral satire, staying alive becomes more important than finding answers as the outraged professor matches wits with men in black.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 295 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; 1st edition (June 23, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609602802
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609602805
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Carol S. VINE VOICE on March 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book defies genre. It is at heart, a thriller in the manner of a Hitchcock man-against-dark-forces movie, but at the same time it is a satire of the 90s tendency to see conspiracies everywhere while at the same time a chilling & credible vision of one possible conspiracy. It is also a well-written book with a lot of funny observations about our culture & insights into human relationships.
To say this book is like a bad X-files episode is, I think, to miss the point - like criticizing Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein" for being like a bad monster movie. As satire, it necessarily takes the elements of the conspiracy thriller and exaggerates them. What is so unique about this novel is that at the same time as it skewers this paranoid mentality, it sucks you into believing that the conspiracy played out in the book could/does really exist.
The book has a very postmodern feel, so if you like your fiction to be more traditional in writing style, this rapid-fire present-tense perspective-shifting style may turn you off. Given the subject of the book, I thought it worked.
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Format: Paperback
I'm not looking for the next Henry James when I read fiction. I'm looking to be entertained with an intelligent story and insightful characters that I can sympathize with. I just read this again for the second time and still found it satisfying in its mix of progressive prose style, witty commentary on society and sheer entertainment value.
Don't stop short at comparing the plot and characters to an X-files episode. If you do you're missing the point. Read it again, now that the TV show is on its last legs, for the refreshing dose of paranoia that we all need once in awhile.
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Format: Paperback
Not being a professor I do not pretend to critique Mr. Hawley's technical abilities as a writer, nor can I comment on overuse of material seen already in X-files as I quit that program after the first year. I can, however, endorse the mental images his writing conveys, especially when describing events in Florida, having been a long-time resident there myself. His book did exactly what I want any book to do - it entertained me, kept my interest and made me care about the characters. In my view, most writing is at least slightly an echo of the efforts of others. How could it not be? There has been so much writing it would be almost impossible not to allude to something someone else has written, but I think perhaps he may have avoided the Shakespear trap.
Regardless of any legitimate criticism another more advanced writer may have, I enjoyed the book thoroughly. At one point, I recall a newspaper article about Patrick Stewart being interested in making it a movie. While the book may not go down as deathless prose in the eyes of the scholars, I think it would make one heck of a movie and hope something comes of that.
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By A Customer on October 20, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I wish Mr. Hawley knew his characters better so when he wrote their dialogue, the reader would know who's speaking. Strange and awkward metaphors and similes. I had hoped for an intelligent thriller--I read an unintelligible one.
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By A Customer on April 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
In an age typified by "modern" writing, it's finally nice to pick up a book with a Noire cobled cover, a title so thin you could eat it with a straw, and find the next Lermontov, or a post-modern version of Underground Man. If Henry James, Elliot or Woolf were alive today and wanted to talk to a literary Quentin Terrantino, they'd invite Mr. Hawley over for a spot of tea and Q/A about what it's like to be alive during a linguistically vapid age, patting him on the back with congratulations at having made art. The book is fantastic! A hipster plot, with Rita Hayworth, Porche Carrera curving turns. It's Burroughsian in the way Burroughs never imagined he could be: straight, no caffein, never had a cigarette of any kind....and at the typewriter 24-7, busy hatching language and Brazilian plot devices. One could read it and read and.....and re-read it, never failing to be entertained over and over again........that's if the above were true. The first page tells the tale: the book's paper would be better served as price reduction notices at your local GAP.
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By A Customer on April 13, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Breath-taking, witty and very well written. And the love scenes between the college boy and the filipina maid left my book group and I smoldering in our seats. My friend Dorothy ignored our debate and stared out the window. When we finally asked her what she thought of the confrontation in the garlic field, she sighed and said, "where did that boy learn such steamy writing?" All I can say is "Noa Hully, you've got a fan club in Bakersfield!"
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Format: Paperback
This book was made for:
People who like to skirmish in conspiracies, but not make it their entire life. Occasionally find youself looking behind your shoulder for no apparent reason. Sit outside at night and watch the skies, but not for stars. Believe that Area 51 does harbor alien technology. Like the song "Subterranean Homesick Alien." Like to see the other sides of life, beside the clean streets and the big houses. If you like things fast and not meandering (meander only in the desert). Believe that the government is too powerful for its own good. And finally you would like to read this book if you're ready to become suspicious and nervous all the time (well most of the time).
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