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Cape Fear by John D. MacDonald

Cape Fear

by John D. MacDonald

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4601032,177 (3.43)28



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Successful small town attorney Sam was once an instrumental witness in the conviction of Cady for rape. Fourteen years later, Cady has been released, and turns up in Sam's town and begins terrorizing Sam and his family. Cady is clever about it, though, and the police seem to be unable to do anything about it. So Sam has to take things into his own hands.

Although I've liked what I've read by MacDonald in the past, it's been a long time since then. This was described as noir, but I found it to be dated in a way well in excess of the way in which some noir conventions can feel dated. Parts of it are unrealistic to the point of ridiculous. It's been made into two well-regarded movies, and I vaguely think I've seen the earlier version.

1 1/2 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Jun 19, 2018 |
Sam Bowden is a happy, contented man. He works as a lawyer for a thriving practice, he has a wonderful marriage and a great family but all of this becomes threatened when Max Cady comes to town. During the war, Sam testified against Cady at his trial for rape and was responsible for Cady being put in prison. Cady is free now, bitter and vengeful he has tracked Sam down and intends to make Sam pay and the best way to hurt Sam is through his wife or his three kids.

This is a powerful story of a normal family pushed to the limit by fear. I didn’t plan on it, but this seems to be the year I read books that were made into movies starring Robert Mitchum and, Cape Fear is one of his best. Mitchum played the vicious Max Cady to the hilt in 1962, a role that was then vividly replayed by Robert DeNiro in 1991. John D. MacDonald masterfully delivers this tight, well paced story of a 1950s family being terrorized by a psychopathic killer.

Originally published as The Executioners, this book is an edge-of-your-seat, suspenseful read but even though the ending here is quite believable, I think the movie versions were more exciting. Max Cady was a memorable role and Robert Mitchum perfectly underplayed this menacing, creepy killer out for revenge, and, while the 1991 Martin Scorsese film is a little over-the-top, an almost gleeful De Niro played Max Cady as an obsessively religious, crazed maniac. Cape Fear is a classic crime novel and with each John D. MacDonald book I read, I find myself becoming an even bigger fan of this author. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Jul 21, 2017 |
This is a heck of a read! Max Cady is a true psychopathic character and his presence brings terrific tension to this story! And this book gave me one of my favorite movies - "Cape Fear" - the one with DeNiro! It was cool to read this! ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Jan 23, 2016 |
This is a heck of a read! Max Cady is a true psychopathic character and his presence brings terrific tension to this story! And this book gave me one of my favorite movies - "Cape Fear" - the one with DeNiro! It was cool to read this! ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Feb 27, 2015 |
"The Executioners" has been sitting on my bookshelf for ages. Something made me pick it up for a new reading. It was such a big hit and the basis for the thrillers, "Cape Fear," in 1962 and 1991.

I anticipated a good read and the novel delivered. There is reason why the book is on many lists of the top 100 mysteries to read.

Sam Bowden was a young officer in the navy when he witnessed a rape during WWII. He testified against Max Cady and Bowden's testimony was the main reason why Cady was found guilty and sent to prison for life.

Years later, the court decides to lower his sentence and Cady is freed. Suddenly, he appears in Bowden's small town and begins to harass Bowden.

Bowden is an attorney and believes in the law. He has a wife and three children. As Cady begins tormenting Bowden, Bowden goes to the sheriff, the city attorney and others, looking for a solution but they can't find anything.

Cady's threats become more intense and something happens where Bowden fears that Cady plans to hurt him by hurting his family.

What would cause a man of the law to disregard the symbol he has believed in for his whole life?
Bowden becomes desperate as Cady begins making innuendos about Bowden's fourteen-year-old daughter and Bowden's wife.

This is a well written drama and re-reading it was like visiting with an old friend, definitely enjoyable and a highly regarded author from our past. If you haven't read it, you're missing one of the legends in mystery writing.” ( )
  mikedraper | Nov 28, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
MacDonald, John D.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Koontz, DeanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Howard, who believed; and for Jennie, who believed in Howard
First words
Sam Bowden lay on his back under a high Saturday sun, eyes closed, right hand clasping the fading chill of half a can of beer.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0449131904, Mass Market Paperback)

An insane criminal threatens to destroy a family, and the police are powerless to protect them.
For fourteen years convicted rapist Max Cady nursed his hatred for Sam Bowden into an insane passion for revenge. He lived only for the day he would be free -- free to track down and destroy the man who had put him behind bars.
Murder was merciful compared to what Cady had in mind -- and what Cady had in mind was Bowden's innocent and lovely teenaged daughter . . . .
"A powerful and frightening story." -- The New York Times

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:10 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Sam Bowden's teenage daughter becomes the target of Max Cady's obsessive scheme to destroy the man who sent him to prison for rape.

» see all 2 descriptions

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