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The Crimes of Jordan Wise by Bill Pronzini
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The Crimes of Jordan Wise

by Bill Pronzini

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This Bill Pronzini novel is a compelling page-turner and will stick with you long after you have read the last page. Why? Because the story not only makes for good crime fiction but is a penetrating meditation on several key philosophical questions: what is the nature of love; what means should we take to realize our dreams; how valuable are such things as friendship, peace of mind and knowing oneself? In the spirit of freshness, my focus will be on how first-person narrator/main character Jordan Wise relates to these philosophical questions.

Love – At the beginning of the novel, it appears to be a clear-cut case of Jordan’s love for sexually-charged, alluring Annalise, his like-minded female alter-ego, a 26 year old willing to do anything for a life of excitement and living on the edge. But the more Jordan tells his tale, the more the plot thickens, a thickness that’s as dark and as rich as Jordan’s favorite rum, Arundel Cane, the only run he ever drinks.

Jordan also loves sailing, especially as captain of his very own yawl, the feel of the wind in his face, the tropical sun overhead, the exhilaration of being on the wide, open sea. And Jordan comes to loves Bone, a fiercely independently minded Caribbean man whose skin is "the color of milk chocolate", an expert seaman who acts as his mentor, the man who later becomes Jordan’s best and only friend. Lastly, we come to understand Jordan has another love, perhaps his deepest love of all, a love that grounds him in the world and gives him a sense of identity, a very, very special identity – his perfect crimes.

Realizing our Dreams – Oh, Jordan, through your well-calculated plan of embezzlement, you set yourself free from the work-a-day white-collar world of your office, where you spent ten years crunching numbers as a trustworthy, accountant. You can now live on a Caribbean island with your lover Annalise and take up sailing by day and drinking your rum and having great sex by night. What a life! What a dream come true! If only this life could go on and on for you. But there’s the rub. Life is forever changing, forever evolving or devolving – over time, the dream can vanish so quickly. And it did for you.

Friendship --- Ancient philosophers from Plato to Aristotle to Cicero, Seneca and Epicurus put great emphasis on friendship as an indispensable part of the good life. Jordan’s friendship with Bone has all the soulful qualities those ancient philosophers spoke about in such glowing terms. When Bone is not longer a friend, Jordan finds out the hard way just how much wisdom is contained in the words of those Greco-Roman philosophers.

Tranquility – Toward the end of the novel, when Jordan appears to have life on his own terms, we read, “the tight, structured little world I established for myself on St. Thomas was secure. I could continue to indulge my simple tastes for the rest of my life. I could be at peace. Only I wasn’t.” Rather than delving into the specifics of Jordan’s story, let’s pause and note how many ancient philosophers, most notably Epicurus, held ataraxia (a combination of tranquility and joy) to be life’s highest value and ultimate goal. Epicurus reasoned without ataraxis, without peace of mind, no matter whatever else a man or woman has in life, their life doesn’t amount to that much. Jordan lived his dream, at least for a number of years, but ultimately, it wasn’t enough.

Know thyself – No doubt about Jordan having a dark side -- he philosophizes about his own dark nature and also human nature in general. But how deep is his understanding?








( )
  GlennRussell | Feb 16, 2017 |
Yow.....the more into this I got the more I wanted to see what would happen --- sort of chewing my nails along the way, figuratively speaking!! It was amazing to watch things unfold as the character told his life story. Misguided brilliance from the beginning, only becoming much, much worse over time? A huge YES!! Not sure I was glad I listened to it or not! ( )
  nyiper | May 14, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802714935, Hardcover)

Jordan Wise is a mild-mannered accountant with a large San Francisco
engineering firm in the late 1970s. By his own admission, the first
thirty-four years of his life were dull, empty. But that all changes
when he meets and falls in love with Annalise Bonner, an ambitious
young woman who craves excitement, a life on the edge.

With her as the catalyst, Wise concocts and executes a meticulous
plan to steal more than half a million dollars from his firm. They
escape to the Virgin Islands, but their plans to live a life of quiet
luxury are beset by unexpected pitfalls -- and Wise is forced to
carry out two more ingenious schemes as a result. All three of his
crimes are perfect -- or are they?

THE CRIMES OF JORDAN WISE is a classic tale of love, greed, betrayal,
and violence told with Bill Pronzini's characteristic twists and
turns and his special brand of suspense. It is also a powerful
psychological examination of a man, a woman, and the wages of sin.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:49 -0400)

"Jordan Wise is a mild-mannered accountant with a large San Francisco engineering firm in the late 1970s. By his own admission, the first thirty-four years of his life have been dull and empty. But that all changes when he meets and falls in love with Annalise Bonner, an ambitious young woman who craves exictement, a life on the edge." "With her as the catalyst, Wise concocts and executes a meticulous plan to steal more than half a million dollars from his firm. They escape to the Virgin Islands, but their plans to live a life of quiet luxury are beset by unexpected pitfalls - and Wise is forced to devise and carry out two more ingenious schemes as a result. All three of his crimes are perfect - or are they?"--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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