- Hardcover: 464 pages
- Publisher: Little Brown & Co; 1st edition (December 31, 1998)
- ISBN-10: 0316561185
- ASIN: B000F6Z5WC
- Package Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 51 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,183,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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What prompted me to give only 4 stars was the surprise ending - and my lack of understanding of the very clues Gardner McKay had been feeding me for some time before reaching the end. Annoyed at myself, I guess
I highly recommend Gardner McKay's memoirs, Journey Without a Map, written during his final days. I wish I'd known Gardner McKay as a friend.
Maude Garance is the doctor who treats Toyer's victims. The knowledge of what Toyer has done to his victim's sits heavily upon the shoulders of Dr. Garance, who calls the victims 'little flowers' and thinks of the photos taken by the victim's families as 'still life portraits'. She finds herself enraged at the havoc that Toyer causes for the victims and their families, who have lost a member, who they can't even grieve for because they are still alive.
This, of course, sets up a conflict between Dr. Garance and Toyer, and it is this conflict which becomes the central story to this novel. There are other subplots and minor stories, which I will allow the reader the fun of discovering.
There are some plot holes in this novel, and a few character motiviations which I find frankly unbelievable under most any circumstance. That being said, McKay writes his characters so well, with such depth and nuance, that the reader feels willing to suspend disbelief and trust the author to bring it all off in the end. Here the author brings us imperfect, and not even entirely likable, sympathetic characters, as well as a bad guy that you can't quite hate altogether. These character formulations, along with some plain old fashioned good prose writing, bring Toyer together as an imperfect, but still very good novel.
Readers who enjoy James Patterson, and are looking for something slightly similiar with better prose, will likely enjoy this novel, as will readers who enjoy novels that have a dark feel almost all the way through.
Toyer is a criminal in Los Angeles. But Toyer doesn't kill anyone. He simply invades the homes of young, beautiful women and lobotomizes them. This essentially makes them vegetables, and the book's characters claim that Toyer can only be charged with "criminal mayhem." (Not sure how true that is...) The main characters of the novel are Maude Garance, a physiatrist at the medical center which treats the victims of Toyer, and Sara Smith, a reporter for the Los Angeles Herald, which is the first and foremost source of new Toyer information for all residents of LA.
The funny thing is that for a book that had "a novel of suspense" written right on the cover; there is absolutely no suspense at all. The novel consists mostly of some sort of contrived, convoluted look at the media and the way it portrays criminals. You know the whole ordeal. Are we making him a celebrity? Is this ethically correct to be reporting? Been there, done that, and I'm not any more interested this time than I was before.
I originally read this book because I saw online that Brian De Palma has written a screenplay and intends to make a film out of the novel. If he does go through with it, in order for it to be a good film, I hope he changes almost every aspect completely.