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The Executioners by John D. MacDonald

The Executioners (edition 1992)

by John D. MacDonald

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338632,536 (3.42)8
Title:The Executioners
Authors:John D. MacDonald
Info:Severn House Publishers Ltd (1992), Hardcover, 208 pages
Collections:Your library

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Cape Fear (Formerly Titled the Executioners) by John D. MacDonald



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"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 |
Giving to si cotic ( )
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
Evermore convinced of MacDonald's brilliance. True, the Bowden family could have been given a few more warts, but what is important is that they are meant to be average. In the midst of a page turner of a thriller, MacDonald also examines the effectiveness of our legal system, the frailty of life, the effect of fear on the individual -- all while painting the picture of everyday terrorifying menace which is much more believable than thethriers where the body counts are in double digits. Starting to reach conclusion thatMacDonald is the most complete mystery writer of all. ( )
  RDHawk6886 | Dec 30, 2012 |
Sam Bowden testifies against Max Cady in a rape trial and Cady is sentenced to life in prison. After 13 years Cady gets out of prison and is determined to gain revenge agaisnt Bowden by harming his family. This is hard-boiled crime fiction and is gripping. In fact, Cady is portrayed as so evil that it was not fun reading about him. Exciting crime fiction. ( )
  Schmerguls | Oct 21, 2009 |
Sam Bowden figured he'd never see Max Cady again but he was deadly wrong. While on leave in Australia from his World War II JAG position, Bowden pulls Cady off of a fourteen year old girl whom Cady is raping in a dark alley. Cady is sentenced to life in prison at hard labor over the matter. Bowden returns home after the war, with Cady just a distant, if troubled, memory. As Bowden is at the apex of his life, enjoying success at work and at home, Cady is released after only thirteen years on his sentence. Cady tracks Bowden down with a reckoning in mind and begins a campaing of terror, tageting Bowdens famliy. Unable to get help from any legal authority, Bowden must handle Cady on his own, outside the constraints of the legal system in which he so ferverntly and innocently believes. As one dark figure tells Bowden, "Life is a continual process of compromise. ... The idea is to come out on the other end still clutching a few shreds of self-respect."

MacDonald is famous for his hard boiled fiction and there is some of that fare here. I was disappointed, however, with the first few chapters which focus more on Bowden and his family. The characterization of the Bowden family was a little too picturesque; the whole family is just a little too perfect, engaing in dialog which would be more at home in a bad commercial. Eventually, as Cady turns up the heat and Bowden's naive construct begins to unravel, the novel really begins to roll. Unfortunately, the ending is somewhat anti-climatic and hurried.

All in all, there was a lot to like about MacDonald's writing, certainly enough to try another.

Three bones!!! ( )
  blackdogbooks | Dec 21, 2008 |
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For Howard, who believed; and for Jennie, who believed in Howard
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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.
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:34 -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.

(summary from another edition)

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