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The Good Father Hardcover – March 20, 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 207 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews



“The father of a man who assassinates a presidential candidate tries to make sense of his son’s crime in Hawley’s gripping new novel…With great skill, Hawley renders Dr. Allen’s treacherous emotional geography, from his shock and guilt to his growing sense that he knows far less about his son than he thought…Hawley’s complicated protagonist is a fully fathomed and beautifully realized character whose emotional growth never slows a narrative that races toward a satisfying and touching conclusion.”
--Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Good Father is hypnotic and haunting and I lost all track of time when I was reading it. Suddenly the day had become night and still I was engrossed in one father’s poignant story and Noah Hawley’s mesmeric tales of a long litany of assassins.”
--Chris Bohjalian, author of The Night Strangers, The Double Bind, and Secrets of Eden
 “Brilliant and heartbreaking, The Good Father is a thriller, a mystery and above all else a savagely contemporary, hugely important story about the relationship between a father and the boy he left behind in his first, failed marriage. This is a rare and important book, and it will haunt the reader for a long time. It is impossible to read the final pages without weeping, and hard to read any of it without taking a long hard look at your own life, and the damage we do when we dare to love, or let love slip away.”
--Tony Parsons, author of Man and Boy
 "This book pulls off something close to impossible.  It's both a thriller and a moving, literary novel.  A tender father/son story I couldn't put down, a page-turner with depth."
— Stephen Elliott, author of The Adderall Diaries

About the Author

NOAH HAWLEY is an author, screenwriter, and producer. He has published three previous novels, conceived and run two network television shows, and written one feature film. Before creating his own shows, he was a writer and producer for the hit show Bones on FOX. He currently splits his time between Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, where he lives with his wife and daughter.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (March 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385535538
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385535533
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (207 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #436,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Dr. Paul Allen is a good man. As Noah Hawley's novel opens, he is enjoying the family tradition of shouting out Jeopardy questions with his wife and twin sons. The game is interrupted by breaking news. The Democratic candidate--the presumed next President of the United States--has just been shot at a public rally. The coverage is chaotic, with reports and footage coming in from a variety of sources. Finally, some images of the shooter come up on the screen. It's Daniel, Paul's 20-year-old son from his first marriage. So begins a nightmare.

I think this premise alone is enough to intrigue most readers. We've experienced these atrocities, seen the breaking news coverage, hoped for the best. Who hasn't spared just a moment to think of the people who love the perpetrators of these crimes? Just because your child turns out to be a monster, doesn't mean you stop loving them.

Within moments, Secret Service agents have shown up at Dr. Allen's door. He is taken in for questioning. They need to know everything about Daniel. He is shot, in custody, and branded as a terrorist. Paul is in shock and in denial. Yes, he's seen the footage of his son with gun in hand, but he knows that Danny didn't do it. As events unfold, Danny refuses to speak or defend himself, so it falls to his father. But Dr. Allen is a diagnostician, and even as he consistently proclaims his son's innocence, he mentally searches for the trauma that broke him.

This novel is about the people on the periphery of a terrible act. It's about the toll a child's action takes not only on the parent, but on the entire family. The story is realistic, honest, and utterly compelling. Though flawed, Paul is a hugely sympathetic protagonist, even as he's being reviled by the world.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Noah Hawley's book THE GOOD FATHER is filled with descriptive analogies. In fact the physical book (or at least the advanced reader's copy I received) is in itself an analogy as it features a rip mended with scotch tape that slashes across a typical suburban home surrounded by lots of foliage. This cover works well with the book's plot of an affluent and professionally very successful dad who desperately tries to tape his casually treated first born back together after the son is accused of assassinating the leading candidate for United States president.

The book is told by Dr. Paul Allen a prominent medical doctor with a New York City practice and an upscale Connecticut home. At age fifty Dr. Allen lives a comfortable life with his ten years younger wife and their elementary school aged twin boys. Dr. Allen has an unsettled older son from a previous marriage named Daniel who has dropped out of college and drifted rather aimlessly around the U.S. in an attempt to find himself. Daniel has had some conflicts with his immature mother in California and briefly lived with Allen and his younger family while in high school but has not been identified as having any particular worrisome problems. In his journals though Daniel reveals he has always felt like his father's shadow son. The Allen's lives become the stuff of nightmares when Daniel shoots and kills a charismatic Montana presidential contender at a UCLA campaign rally.

The bulk of the novel describes Dr. Allen's search to understand what has happened to his son and why. As a trained physician he approaches his task with a scientific mind. He sifts through Daniel's life and reads about true life young men who gained fame through murderous attention grabbing acts.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm afraid I didn't get on as well with this book as most other people did. I admire its aims and courage in dealing with difficult and in many ways unappealing subject matter: trying to understand the motivations of the assassin of a noble and popular politician and the effect of the assassin's actions on his family isn't an easy route to popularity and a wide audience, and Noah Hawley does a creditable job in attempting to explore these things. It's just that it didn't really work for me.

Hawley writes reasonably well in that his prose is generally well crafted, but it felt rather turgid to me and often left me with a slight sense of wading through treacle. The narrator's voice isn't badly done, but I didn't really find that it engaged my attention and it has some very trying traits - he used the phrase "As a doctor, I..." so often, for example, that I began to want to give him a slap. I found that the whole thing had a sense of trying just a bit too hard, and in the end, however laudable its aims and conclusions, it became quite a slog getting through it.

My problems with this book are plainly very personal because lots of others have found it very good indeed so please don't let me put you off - it's just that it didn't really appeal to me.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am so impressed with this book. At the beginning, the father, Paul, is a prominent doctor at Columbia-Presbyterian, living in Westport, CT with his second wife and their two children. His son Danny by his first wife has dropped out of college and taken off. Paul seems to have a perfect life until he turns on the news one evening to see that a presidential candidate has been shot and killed and his son Danny is accused of the crime. This is a terrific plot set up, but the author's depiction of characters really makes the story. He doesn't just tell the story from various points of view. He literally takes you inside the brains of Paul and Danny, and in addition, recreates the thought processes of other killers and political assassins throughout history. You get inside the minds of Charles Whitman, John Hinckley, Sirhan Sirhan, where the facts don't fit, who might be legally insane, whose thought patterns could be considered logical. I have never read anything like this. What was Danny thinking? Why doesn't Paul understand him? How can "good" parents deal with a child who has a twisted mind? It's a family drama, as well as a chilling psychological and political thriller. Read it right to the end.
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