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The Identity Man Hardcover – November 11, 2010

3.9 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Edgar-winner Klavan's compelling thriller focuses on smalltime criminal John Shannon, who commits petty crimes, usually burglary, out of boredom as much as any need for financial gain. When a job spins out of control and a man gets killed, Shannon goes on the run. After receiving an enigmatic text message, Shannon is captured and taken to a laboratory where he's given a new face, a new name, and a new life, courtesy of the mysterious "identity man." Shannon moves to an unnamed city that resembles New Orleans, where he finds work as a carpenter. In a parallel plot, Lt. Brick Ramsey, a good cop gone bad, finds himself drawn deep into a local political struggle with fatal consequences. How Klavan (Empire of Lies) merges the two plots and saves Shannon may confound some readers, but the inexorable pace and superior quality of the writing lift the story onto a level that feels almost mythic. (Nov.) (c)
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From Booklist

Strongly political authors sometimes present readers with a problem: instead of simply following the story, they become distracted by subtext—by the black politician, for example, who cynically preaches the politics of hope as he ascends from a corrupt city to the national stage, his rise heralded by a brainless media. Then again, that kind of reading may be exactly what Klavan (Empire of Lies, 2008) intends. There are really two stories here: that of John Shannon, a thief framed for murder but given a second chance by a mysterious benefactor, and that of Lieutenant Brick Ramsey, a self-loathing stooge for the aforementioned politician, serving in a city ruined by flood and riot. Klavan builds slow-burning tension like nobody’s business, and Shannon’s struggle to redeem himself is powerful and compelling. But this noir-tinted tale upends the conventions of that genre: instead of noir’s existentialism, where little people are crushed by unfeeling bureaucracy, in Klavan’s world the bloodthirsty bureaucracy actively wants to crush the little guy. Klavan’s world is dark, indeed, and not everyone will want to visit. --Keir Graff

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (November 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547243286
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547243283
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,364,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mr. August VINE VOICE on September 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is my first Andrew Klavan book and I cannot believe I have not read the works of this intelligent, far-reaching author. Well, I will certainly backtrack and read his other books if this writing is any indication of his talent.

Klavan crafts a story about an inconsequential thief who has a sad history. He has never caught a break and has resorted to crime when his "skin begins to crawl." His name is John Shannon and there are parts of him that represent universal desires. He would have liked to have had a loving childhood, he would have liked to have fallen in love with a good woman but, instead, he is a two-time loser who could face years in prison if he commits another felony. And yet, he cannot stop himself, he teams up with a despicable character who draws him into a breaking and entering transgression that sets up Klavan's plot.

The backdrop of the story is a ruined city, denigrated by floods, fire, corrupt police, clergy and politicians. There doesn't seem to be any saving grace; he paints a bleak picture of American corruption from the top to the very bottom. John Shannon is played and pushed through this immorality unknowingly. He is given a new identity, plastic surgery and new name, which he naively accepts as his ticket to freedom from a life of failure. John also has an unusual talent. He is able to look at a piece of wood and see something and carve an inspiring piece that sets him apart from being just an ordinary carpenter. His talent leads him to the possibilities of happiness. They are only possibilities because crooked factions want vengeance and will stop at nothing. Some of the scenes are truly brutal.

Klavan brings in all that we fear, our normal lives being torn from us and the few that we trust prove to be purely evil.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Andrew Klavan has crafted a finely honed thriller, one that if Alfred Hitchcock were alive to read, would surely be optioned by the master to convert to film. In many ways, this book reminded me of The Man Who Knew Too Much, or North by Northwest. All of them have the common element of a person thrust into the center of a situation where other players know what is going on, but the protagonist, and ourselves, are left to wonder about the actions that are taking place.

A quick read, and well-written.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Actually there is nothing new under the sun. Most books are just a variation of the same themes and plot points. Andrew Klaven's latest offering, THE IDENTITY MAN is no exception to this premise. The theme here is "wanted man (John Shannon) gets a new face and a new identity, is relocated to a new city (New Orleans......or its doppelganger) to begin life anew and meets the woman of his dreams". Sound familiar so far?

What is different and compelling about Klaven's approach to this subject matter is that he presents us with a mystery within a mystery as well as some political and cultural questions that confront us on a daily basis.

As for the mystery....it poses numerous questions. For example:"Who is our protagonist's benefactor?" "What is his/her motive for providing Shannon with a second chance?" "Why has this particular city been chosen for Shannon's new beginning"? Additionally, each character in this tale is not your run of the mill good guy/bad guy. These are complex personalities motivated by their individual needs and aspirations. From the foreign sounding plastic surgeon, to the retired teacher, and from the questionably motivated law enforcement officers and local politicos to the street gangs that wreak havoc on the damaged city, Klaven has presented us with not only well develop characters who, like most of us, are plagued by those pesky inner conversations each of us carries on (I believe it's called conscience, or in some cases lack thereof). In doing so he has obliquely encouraged his readers to examine the direction that we are taking not only as individuals, but as a society. He seems to ask if we have all become as skeptical and pessimistic as one of Shannon's acquaintances who took the words of Dr.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Andrew Klavan's IDENTITY MAN is slick thriller full of insights into the human condition. John Shannon is a career criminal who is offered a new life from a stranger while being wanted for a murder he didn't commit. Shannon gets a new face and new identity. A big part of the novel is the unnamed city Shannon lives in. It could be New Orleans , since Shannon arrives during the aftermath of a massive flood that ravaged the city. But the city is ruled by a corrupt, nationally rising politician named Augie Lancaster. Augie has the entire police force under his thumb, including Det. Brick Ramsey.

Shannon slowly builds a new life and gets close to a woman, Teresa, and her son. Shannon , perhaps foolishly, believes he was given his new life with no strings attached. But, soon, it becomes time for him to pay the price, and he soon faces the corruption of the city head on.

I really liked this novel, but admit it might not be for everyone. I don't know if this is more of a literary thriller or what, but the action is a little slower, and the internal thoughts of characters are a lot more upfront. Some readers might not notice it, but if you know Klavan is an outspoken conservative, you'll definitely catch on to his political and even spiritual message in the novel. Some readers won't mind, as I didn't, but it is there so be prepared.

I should also mention that Klavan is writing a young adult series for the Christian market. Fans of those novels should know this book is full of swearing, violence and other situations not found in Christian fiction.

IDENTITY MAN is a thriller with political and social commentary. I really liked it, but I'm a conservative. Liberals may not appreciate it. If you don't care either way, then check this book out. The commentary isn't blatant and the rest of the book is really good.
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