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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio; Abridged edition (July 8 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1423367804
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423367802
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3.5 x 17.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 68 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Review

Bookreporter.com
"Stephen J. Cannell's "At First Sight" is arguably his best work to date -- enthralling, engrossing, addicting. As fresh and new as today's headlines.... "At First Sight" is yet another triumph for Cannell, who, even at this late date in his career, continues to handily trump his own best work." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

In his thirty-five-year career, Emmy Award-winning writer Stephen J. Cannell has created more than forty TV series. Among his hits are The Rockford Files, Silk Stalkings, The A-Team, 21 Jump Street, Hunter, Renegade, Wiseguy, and The Commish. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and children.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Sept. 19 2008
Format: Hardcover
Chick Best isn't anyone you are going to like. That's one of the problems with this book. An even bigger problem is that what Chick does will more often disgust you than interest you. Beyond that, much of the story is predictable . . . so there isn't much to look forward to . . . except the book being over.

Even if you are a big Stephen J. Cannell fan, you may not like this book. You can definitely skip it unless you feel like you need to read every word he's ever written.

Chick Best is seeing his dot-com business go down the tubes when the family's annual trip to a tony resort on Maui makes him angrier than usual at his wife. While grouching to himself about her unreasonable demands, Chick is jolted out of his bad mood by a glimpse of a gorgeous young woman. At first, he hopes she's single. By staring and eavesdropping, Chick learns she's married. Chick can't help himself. He's got to have her. How will he do it?

From there, Chick's life comes to narrow down onto being with Paige Ellis. Nothing will get in his way.

At First Sight appears to have been intended to be a comic satire about how middle-aged men falter through trying to reverse the effects of time. I compared the book at first to some of the more extreme works of that Florida philosopher, Carl Hiaasen. But Hiaasen maintains a light touch that keeps the reader wondering what prank the author will pull next. Mr. Cannell by comparison is like the butcher who sticks his thumb on the scale to make a bigger sale; he gets your attention in an expensive way.

I find it hard to imagine a woman I know who would like this book. If seeing a man destroy anything that gets in his way appeals to you, you'll like this book a lot more than I did.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 48 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Gross, Self-Absorbed Materialist Decides He Has to Have the "Perfect" Woman Sept. 19 2008
By Donald Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Chick Best isn't anyone you are going to like. That's one of the problems with this book. An even bigger problem is that what Chick does will more often disgust you than interest you. Beyond that, much of the story is predictable . . . so there isn't much to look forward to . . . except the book being over.

Even if you are a big Stephen J. Cannell fan, you may not like this book. You can definitely skip it unless you feel like you need to read every word he's ever written.

Chick Best is seeing his dot-com business go down the tubes when the family's annual trip to a tony resort on Maui makes him angrier than usual at his wife. While grouching to himself about her unreasonable demands, Chick is jolted out of his bad mood by a glimpse of a gorgeous young woman. At first, he hopes she's single. By staring and eavesdropping, Chick learns she's married. Chick can't help himself. He's got to have her. How will he do it?

From there, Chick's life comes to narrow down onto being with Paige Ellis. Nothing will get in his way.

At First Sight appears to have been intended to be a comic satire about how middle-aged men falter through trying to reverse the effects of time. I compared the book at first to some of the more extreme works of that Florida philosopher, Carl Hiaasen. But Hiaasen maintains a light touch that keeps the reader wondering what prank the author will pull next. Mr. Cannell by comparison is like the butcher who sticks his thumb on the scale to make a bigger sale; he gets your attention in an expensive way.

I find it hard to imagine a woman I know who would like this book. If seeing a man destroy anything that gets in his way appeals to you, you'll like this book a lot more than I did.
22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
exciting thriller July 19 2008
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Fifty-five years old Chick Best has run an Internet business for the past dozen years; however recently competition from the global chains threatens to bury him. The affluent Los Angelino is married to philandering Evelyn; though she cheats on him he thanks God for that. He is concerned with his sixteen year old daughter Melissa who knows more drugs personally than any pharmaceutical company.

Chick and his two indifferent towards him women go to Hawaii on vacation. When he sees newlywed Paige Ellis emerge from the Maui hotel swimming pool, Chick finds himself in love at first sight. He insures he meets the object of his adult rated fantasy and to his chagrin, her spouse Chandler though he is cleverly nice to the man in his way. Back in the Forty-eight states, Chick is on a business trip to New York, but instead of going home he heads to Charlotte where the Ellis couple lives. There he accidentally runs over Chandler several times to eliminate the only person in the way of happily ever after with his obsession.

This is an exciting thriller with morbid dry humor as Chick allows his fixation for his love interest to get control of head as if his brain had one icon: Paige. The story line is told by the prime players, for the most part Chick. Although somewhat satirical, the reaction of Chandler's family including to a lesser degree his new wife seems too indifferent (especially when they learn how they died) even though that purposely contrasts their apathy to his killer's passion. Still Stephen J. Cannell provides readers with a fascinating "novel of obsession".

Harriet Klausner
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A lot of people are not going to like this novel Oct. 8 2008
By J. Norburn - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A lot of people aren't going to like At First Sight. A big reason for this is that the central character is a self absorbed, intolerant, jerk. Personally, I like novels with flawed, even detestable characters, as long as they are interesting and/or entertaining.

This is one of two significant drawbacks to the novel. Chick is boring as hell. He's superficial and whiny. It's always risky for an author to build a novel around a character who is unlikeable, and I have to admire Cannell for trying. I suspect a lot of people will give up on this novel about of the third of the way through (probably about the time Chick gratifies himself with a Hustler magazine in his car after killing someone) because they were either bored to death by Chick or just found him too unpleasant to read about. I think Cannell would have been more successful in his attempt if he had been able to incorporate a little morbid humor into the narrative in the first half. With the right tone, creepy behavior can become darkly funny.

And this happens to a degree in the final third of the novel (for those willing to stick with it). The narrative alternates between Chick and the woman he is obsessed with, and there is some morbid humor in the stark contrast between his perspective and hers. His thought process and behavior becomes more and more outrageous and delusional near the end and this adds to the entertainment value.

The second significant shortcoming of the novel is its lack of originality. For some reason, Cannell seems to think that he is writing something groundbreaking here. He says friends begged him not to write the novel, that he'd been harboring the idea for years and that it simply poured out of him when he started to write, as if it were something unique and special. It isn't. The novel's premise, a man becomes obsessed with another man's wife and then kills him so he can romance the widow is not new. Frankly the whole thing is a tired re-tread. I think the only semi-original idea here is that Cannell made Chick uncompromisingly unlikeable, and wrote most of the novel from his point of view.

On a positive note, the novel is lean and mean, and Cannell does a reasonable job of building suspense in the final chapters. I started to find Chick's antics reasonably entertaining near the end and appreciated the alternating narratives. I like that Paige, the object of his obsession, is a reasonably intelligent and resourceful woman. Her guilt and grief make her vulnerable and leads to some choices that put her at risk, but for the most part, she see's Chick for what he is.

While there are some positives to the novel, it isn't one I can recommend without reservations (if at all). The story is predictable and lacks originality and Chick's rants remind me of a loudmouth drunk in a bar that you wish would move to another stool. If you're thinking about giving up halfway through, I can tell you that it does get better, but only marginally. 2 ½ stars.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Not for everyone, but I enjoyed this tale of a horrible man's downfall Sept. 7 2010
By Bill Garrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
AT FIRST SIGHT by Stephen J. Cannell is an interesting thriller, one I had a difficult time deciding what I thought as I read. But one thing I can say, it's a fast read and kept me turning the pages. I was thoroughly entertained.

The book is labeled as a novel of obsession and that's the truth. Narrator Chick Best is in his fifties and has a trophy wife that he hates. While on vacation, he meets, falls in love with, and becomes obsessed with Paige Ellis. One problem. She's married to Chandler, and they're the perfect couple. As the book summary says, Chick kills Chandler early in the novel. But that's only the beginning of the descent of Chick.

But the problem is, Chick is telling the story. He's the lead male character and he's absolutely a horrible person. But, he's also witty and funny and that made the novel enjoyable. Paige, on the other hand, is salt of the earth. A perfect woman.

How does it all turn out? As I read, I wondered how I would feel about a novel that is dominated by such an evil man. Could Cannell pull it off? The answer is, yes. He solves the narrator problem by slowly shifting the story to Paige's point of view.

I think this novel is a bit too humorous and light to take away a serious message. Still. Chick's obsession with appearance and what others think of him probably comes straight from Cannell's observations of those living in Hollywood . I read Cannell's first novel, THE PLAN, and hadn't read him again until this one. I definitely plan on checking out his other novels. He's a good writer.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Enthralling, engrossing, addicting - another triumph for Cannell July 17 2008
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
AT FIRST SIGHT is a radical departure for Stephen J. Cannell. It is neither a continuation of his Shane Scully series nor is it a return to the type of stand-alone novel he was writing early in his career. Rather, it is a "unique" book that, as he reports in his Acknowledgements, those involved in his career "beg[ged]" him not to write. The fact that Cannell chose to follow the impulse of his muse is our gain, as this is arguably his best work to date --- enthralling, engrossing, addicting.

Chick Best is a southern California dot.com millionaire whose life trajectory is quickly going south. He is married to Evelyn, a hellion who, at least from Chick's viewpoint, is interested in little more than spending his money and bedding her personal trainer. Their 16-year-old daughter Melissa, in Chick's words, has discovered more drugs than Dow Chemical and dates an outlaw biker. Actually, those are her more charming attributes; one expects Melissa's head to start rotating on her shoulders at any moment.

But Chick is not the put-upon Job he would have you believe him to be, and this is where we get a hint of what an excellent storyteller Cannell can be (as if, given his extensive bibliography and enviable list of hit television series, the jury somehow might still be undecided). Chick complains mightily about Evelyn's spending habits, but does so while drinking a bottle or two of wine bearing a stratospheric price tag. He bemoans his daughter's drug use while ignoring his own alcoholic intake as well as his other excesses, both named and unnamed. He is, so to speak, preoccupied with the moat in his neighbor's eye while ignoring the plank in his own.

It is while the Bests are on a hedonistic family vacation that Chick is hit by a thunderbolt named Paige Ellis, a beautiful younger woman vacationing with her husband Chandler, an all-around good guy. There is a subtle irony here --- Chandler and Paige, like Chick and Evelyn, deserve each other, but in entirely different ways. This becomes more and more apparent as Chick, instantly and irrevocably smitten with Paige, begins a skin-crawling campaign to ingratiate himself into their lives. Chick's obsession with Paige does not end with the vacation; it grows and festers, even as his life is slowly crashing down around him on all fronts. Given a sudden opportunity to murder Chandler, Chick takes full advantage, doing the deed and seemingly getting away with it. Paige is devastated, which allows Chick to be there for her and offer support.

Robert Butler is the homicide detective assigned to the case. He is Chick's polar opposite in every way --- homely, disheveled, spiritual, sincere --- but is determined to identify Chandler's murderer and bring him to justice. Robert has his own reasons for his obsession with the case: his wife was killed under similar, if unrelated, circumstances years before, and her death is unsolved and unavenged. Unaware that Robert is even investigating the matter, Chick is busily planning to remove what he regards as the final obstacle between what he envisions as a lifetime of bliss with Paige. As matters race toward a climactic showdown, anything can, and will, happen.

The book reads as if Cannell was channeling a brilliantly dark paperback writer from the 1950s --- Jim Thompson or perhaps Richard Prather --- yet his story is as fresh and new as today's headlines. His description of the manner in which Chick carries out a murder could conceivably cause at least one B-list celebrity some anxious moments (I will leave it to you to guess who), and his quiet comparisons between Chick's and Paige's feelings for each other --- Chick is entranced, while Paige thinks of him as just a friend --- are spellbinding. Cannell's glimpses into Chick's self-serving psyche are by turns chilling and hilarious; his ability to deceive everyone, especially himself, is incredible. It is ultimately Robert, however, who quietly steals the show, even as he remains off-page for most of it.

AT FIRST SIGHT is yet another triumph for Cannell, who, even at this late date in his career, continues to handily trump his own best work.


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