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Recoil by Jim Thompson


by Jim Thompson

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Patrick Cosgrove has spent 15 years in prison for an impulsive and botched bank robbery when he was eighteen. In order to be paroled, he needs a sponsor and a job, which finally happens when one of his random pleas for help to the outside is answered by a stranger. Dr. Luther spends a lot of money and political favors to have Pat paroled, even giving him a room in the house Luther shares with his sultry wife. Pat wonders why a stranger would go to so much trouble for him, yet he's so grateful to be out of prison he's willing to help Luther out in any way he can, but the little hints and coincidences build up to a point that even Pat can't ignore them. ( )
  mstrust | Jul 3, 2015 |
I don’t know quite what to make of this book. I have been a long-time fan of Jim Thompson, but this one struck me as slightly flat. I wasn’t sure if it was a screed decrying corruption in government, a revenge story, or just exactly what. Perhaps this is a reflection of the character's ambivalence to his situation as he tries to understand the motivation of Doc Luther. It had an amateurish quality to it that bothered me, and the characters seemed flat. 2.5 stars rounded to 3. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
Convict wins his parole in the custody of a shady psychologist turned lobbyist called "Doc" who showers him with favors. So obviously something is up. What does Doc really want? We don't find out until the end of the book, and it is a very weak ending indeed. But along the way, we are treated to a pretty good picture of a bunch of disreputable politicians not much different from the bulk of what we have today in our so-called democracy. And, unlike the first Thompson books I read, this one isn't so downbeat and nihilistic that it makes you depressed. It's a well-written, very quick read. It's a shame he couldn't come up with a better payoff. ( )
  datrappert | Jan 3, 2011 |
Pat Cosgrove has served 15 years of a 10 years to life sentence in Sandstone prison for an armed robbery he committed when he was 18 years old. He can't get out without someone giving him a job. He writes to 200 people to try and get someone to go to the parole board with him so he can get a parole. Doc Luther, who he has never met, gives him that job, a car, new clothes and money. The only problem is, Doc Luther isn't the kind of guy who does things like that for anybody, especially not for someone he never met before. It's obvious that Doc has an angle he isn't telling Pat about and neither are any of Doc's partners. All Pat can do is be thankful he is out of Sandstone and wait to see what Doc has really gotten him out of prison for.

Such is the paranoid, noose tightening world of Jim Thompson. Where everybody has an angle and everyone is slowly sinking into the quicksand of the life that losers live and where their dreams are just shortcuts to the next lower level of hell that they have been destined to reach from their birth. Except that in Recoil, Jim Thompson writes about his normal group of characters with their usual flawed decisions and underhanded dealings only to get to the last 10 pages of the book and gives the reader a happy ending. One that doesn't fit very well with the rest of what he has written in the book. I don't know if he ever had another happy ending or not, or why he decided to have one this time. Maybe he was auditioning for Hollywood to give him a job writing movies since he wasn't making a lot of money writing the pulp fiction paperbacks that he was so good at. He did move to Hollywood soon after this novel and did write screenplays for both the movies and TV. But this book is not one of his greats, though the things that made him great are very much in evidence here. It is definitely worth reading though for the happy ending that he doesn't try many more times that I'm aware of. ( )
3 vote markatread | Jan 25, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679733086, Paperback)

Pat Cosgrove was a convict in the state's vilest prison, and Doc Luther gave him his freedom. Cosgrove had never been loved, and Luther gave him two mistresses--one of them the beautiful Mrs. Luther. Cosgrove owed Luther his life . . . and now Luther was going to collect.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:26 -0400)

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