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Cutdown [Mass Market Paperback]

John A. Miller
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 1 1998
When Margaret Tikkanen of the Northwestern Pacific Lumber Company calls on Vietnam vet-turned-lawyer Claude McCutcheon with a trumped-up story about buying commercial property, he gets tangled up in a decades-old, and life-threatening conspiracy. Miller is the winner of the 1996 California Book Award for First Published Work of Fiction for this, his debut novel.

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From Booklist

Claude McCutcheon is a laid-back bachelor lawyer who takes only those cases with social merit, eats well, and is irresistible to women. He's yet another sardonic knight-errant in a world gone bad--the world, in this case, being San Francisco and the Bay Area. Miller is only lightly satirical, but California presents so many targets that his offhand swipes are the best thing about his novel, establishing an agreeable undercurrent throughout. The story? In 1943, an Italian POW escapes from a North Carolina camp, murders several people, and returns to Europe. Much later, he immigrates to California, where he becomes a timber magnate, keeping environmentalists at bay by bribing various officials. But his records are stolen, and McCutcheon is swept up in the murders that ensue as would-be blackmailers converge with an old sheriff who has been on the trail of the escapee for 50 years. There's the requisite beautiful woman and some credible sleazy villains. The first in what looks to be a perfectly serviceable series. John Mort --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Rugged, gory, misanthropic tale of a Vietnam vet turned lawyer who can't keep himself away from sleazy characters and the trouble they bring. San Franciscan Claude McCutcheon, first seen as a naive soldier flummoxed by his girlfriend's pregnancy in ``Bethune, South Carolina'' (from Miller's story collection, Jackson Street, 1995), resembles the burned-out, hard-punching movie heroes Clint Eastwood used to play. Before we meet him, a dark prologue describes a Nazi POW's murderous escape from a Virginia internment camp and the obsessive but ultimately futile efforts of Prince George County Sheriff A.G. Farrell to recapture him. Thirty pages, and nearly fifty years later, McCutcheon, a bearded, cotton-shirt-and-blue-jeans loan wolf who spends more time working out in the gym than in a courtroom, swaggers into Berkeley's holding tank to extract Bobby Norton--a disreputable nightclub owner being held for questioning in the fatal shooting of lawyer Myron Hirsch, a zealous ``radical environmentalist'' who indulged in blackmail. At about this time, McCutcheon also draws the distant attentions of Margaret Stewart Tikkanen, the beautiful ice queen CEO of a phenomenally profitable northern California lumber company that had been the target of Hirsch's public and private scheming. McCutcheon's acidic dislike for phony mystics, bed-hopping Berkeley professors, liberals, and such grotesques as Feather Rainforest, a fearsomely fat ecoterrorist (and her whining, sociopathic son Wolf Walks Far) doesn't justify the cruel action-movie fates these figures meet here. Meantime, the lawyer himself takes as many blows as he gives, including a pistol-whipping and stabbing. Varying slightly from the formula, Miller follows the requisite slam-bang climax with a series of what-it-all-means meditations about the relationship between a soldier's duty and what survival demands. A tentative, turbulent, yet promising first novel that aspires, somewhat unsuccessfully, to a grand statement on personal destiny and military honor. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Miller populates his novel with a cast of caricatures, not characters. Additionally, the "anti-hero" seems to dismiss the murders committed during the course of the novel as business as usual, something you can't really have in a mystery novel. There are some interesting plot twists (the WW2 part), but all in all, a disappointing effort, especially given the favorable press reviews.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A rough - gem of a first novel. Feb. 16 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
John A. Miller has created a very interesting character in Claude McCutcheon, the almost anti-hero of Cutdown.
I liked the characters in the book and the prerequisite violent scenes were different in that Claude is not the typical "superhero" type who never bleeds.
The violence is at times excessive, but Miller also makes Claude a likeable guy you wouldn't mind having a beer with.
The conclusion is very satisfying and true to the development of the plot.
This novel is a promising start to what I hope will be an extended series.Brian Sage (sagebrian@hotmail.com),Woodstock,Ontario,Canada.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A rough - gem of a first novel. Feb. 16 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
John A. Miller has created a very interesting character in Claude McCutcheon, the almost anti-hero of Cutdown.
I liked the characters in the book and the prerequisite violent scenes were different in that Claude is not the typical "superhero" type who never bleeds.
The violence is at times excessive, but Miller also makes Claude a likeable guy you wouldn't mind having a beer with.
The conclusion is very satisfying and true to the development of the plot.
This novel is a promising start to what I hope will be an extended series.Brian Sage (sagebrian@hotmail.com),Woodstock,Ontario,Canada.
5.0 out of 5 stars John A. Miller, Author April 19 2012
By Becky A. Hughes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"Cutdown" is a very good book. I've read all of his books, and Mr. Miller is an excellent author. Mysteries are well plotted, with interesting characters. "Coyote Moon" is another of his books, and it is something quite different. I really liked it, too, even though it is not a mystery. I wish he'd write more books. As far as I know, he's only written four or five books total.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Stereotypical Characters Make "Cutdown" less than fulfilling March 4 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Miller populates his novel with a cast of caricatures, not characters. Additionally, the "anti-hero" seems to dismiss the murders committed during the course of the novel as business as usual, something you can't really have in a mystery novel. There are some interesting plot twists (the WW2 part), but all in all, a disappointing effort, especially given the favorable press reviews.
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