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Sailor [Hardcover]

Tom Epperson
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

March 27 2012

Acclaimed novelist of The Kind One and screenwriter of such films as One False Move and The Gift, Tom Epperson brings the violence-soaked world of Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men and the heroism of Jack Schaefer’s Shane together to create an iconic action thriller for the twenty-first century.

Gina fell for the wrong guy. Joe came into her life promising her everything, and he gave it to her, along with a world of hell.

But Gina was stronger than Joe realized. After years of suffering the terror of being married to a criminal, she took the one thing he ever gave her that she wanted—her son, Luke. Then she turned the bastard in.

With her husband behind bars, her father-in-law will stop at nothing for revenge.

He wants his grandson back, the heir to his criminal empire. With a vast network that stretches across the country, every favor is called in to kill Gina and return Luke to his grandfather.

Gina can trust no one. Even the U.S. Marshall assigned to keep Gina and Luke safe is on the payroll.

So with a gun and stolen diamonds in her purse, and derelicts, the law, and hit men on her tail, Gina takes Luke and runs.

Los Angeles was only supposed to be a quick stop—sleep, eat, and continue running—but then they meet Gray….

He says he’s a sailor, but he seems to be hiding a lot. And when the time comes, he’s the only thing standing between her and the grave.

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"This book is as au courant as any crime-fiction novel or neo-noir flick, but its themes (courage, morality, loyalty, grace under pressure) are as old as Hemingway or Lao-tzu….Mr. Epperson delivers his text through third-person points of view, in a manner both cinematic and Chekhovian; it underscores the interconnectedness of these disparate characters and indicates an interplay of good and evil, dark and light….What Sailor might remind one of is the 1950s film Shane, in which a taciturn loner, trying to leave behind a violent history, is pushed into violence again to protect the family of which he has become a surrogate part. But Sailor extends that trope with an emotional ending that ripples through past, present and future, like a pebble tossed in a haiku pond."---The Wall Street Journal

"A 21st century noir novel. . . . Deftly captures a fun-house reflection of a brave new world where crime and criminals have gone global, entering partnerships to encourage synergies between the skill sets of each.... The story may be dark, but Gray's road to redemption has flashes of black humor, mostly courtesy of one of the most inspired collections of offbeat to plain psycho characters ever written.-- Los Angeles Times

Sailor is a modern-day fable, compelling and heartbreaking. It will grab you from page one and keep you a grateful hostage until its surprising and moving conclusion.” 
—Robert Crais, New York Times bestselling author of The Sentry

“Employing spare, almost hallucinatory prose, and a keen eye for detail, Tom Epperson has created an unforgettable cast of characters set against a sun-bleached noir background. By turns frightening and darkly comic, Sailor is the literary equivalent of a Coen brothers film.”
—Eric Van Lustbader, New York Times bestselling author of Blood Trust

“Simply a great thriller—full of action but about people, tough but not bleak, fast and yet thoughtful. Highly recommended.”
—Lee Child

"Sailor is a great read! Just as you think you know where you're going, Tom Epperson throws another twist in your path. Style and story, I loved it all."
—Michael Connelly, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Harry Bosch novels

About the Author

Tom Epperson is the cowriter, with Billy Bob Thornton, of A Family Thing (starring Robert Duvall and James Earl Jones, nominated for the Humanitas Prize), One False Move (named as one of the year’s best films by a number of top critics), and The Gift (directed by Sam Raimi, and starring Cate Blanchett, Keanu Reeves, and Hillary Swank). Epperson’s first book, The Kind One, was nominated for an Edgar and a Barry Award in 2009. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this book very much Sept. 18 2014
By Laraine
An engrossing thriller. This title had popped up on my book lists from time to time and I was finally motivated to read it. I enjoyed this book very much. Two strangers with secrets meet. The woman, Gina, is on the run with her son Luke. The man, Gray, is a man with a mysterious past. Gina doesn't know much about him other than that he was a sailor. Gray is just passing through until he meets up with Gina and Luke. And once the bad men from her past catch up with Gina and the body count mounts, Gina and Gray and Luke are together, struggling to survive. Well developed characters and enough plot line to keep me turning pages until the end.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  33 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great thriller and great literature March 31 2012
By Jim Metzler - Published on
Great thrillers are fairly commonplace. Built for speed, these thrillers are generally very well-plotted but are stripped of all other elements that might slow the rush to the climax. "Sailor" elevates to the level of great literature because Mr.Epperson is unafraid to add true dimension to the characters while he exhibits a love and respect for the written word. And "Sailor" is no less thrilling for the inclusions!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT read... March 29 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on
I've just finished reading Tom Epperson's exciting and compelling "Sailor." Wow! This modern-day noir thriller grabs you on the very first page and never lets go. Like Hitchcock's "Psycho," Epperson's "Sailor" plays a bit with the reader in its early pages, leaving one guessing just who is the protagonist here--and, without giving too much away, let's just say the body count is high in its first few chapters. But, once things settle in, a real and affecting story of cautious relationship and love plays out in the shadow of evil and the constant threat of violence. Epperson's grasp of human nature and his knowledge of the dark side of sunny Southern California is perceptive, moving and...always entertaining. Chandler, Macdonald...move over. Meet Tom Epperson.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Mysterious Sailor Protects a Mom and Her Son from Ruthless Hit Men in Tom Epperson's Bloody California Noir! July 1 2012
By J. B. Hoyos - Published on
Gina's testimony imprisoned her ex-husband Joey Cicala for life. Now she and her ten-year-old son Luke are in the witness protection program in Brady, Oklahoma. A traitorous U.S. marshal, Frank terHorst, is determined to kill Gina and take the diamonds she's stolen from Joey. TerHorst has enlisted the help of uncouth, redneck hit men, Mac Lingo and his sons Ronnie and Steve. New York City mobster, Pat the Cat Cicala, also wants Gina dead. He enlists the help of the System, which hires two ruthless, sophisticated European hit men, Markus Groh and Dima Bulgakov. A bloodbath ensues as the contract killers surround Gina. Her only salvation lies with a mysterious drifter, Gray, who claims he was once a sailor.

Bullets fly and blood flows freely in Tom Epperson's brilliant, ultraviolent California noir, "Sailor." Action thrillers don't get much better than this one. Along with cruel, sadistic violence, there is plenty of mystery, drama, suspense, romance and humor. A cute, neglected boy and an ugly, abused dog are thrown in for good measure. The main mystery concerns the identity of Gray, the stranger who protects Gina and Luke. Who is he? Everything he tells Gina about his background is a lie. The reader doesn't begin to learn his true history (an extremely violent, depressing one) until over half-way through the novel. Gray's true identity (and why he refers to himself as a sailor) is gradually, and shockingly, learned piece by piece.

In my opinion, there is nothing more romantic than a handsome man protecting a beautiful woman from being killed by a relentless assassin. I thought Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton of "The Terminator" (The Terminator [Blu-ray Book]) were at their sexiest when they were being pursued by Arnold Schwarzenegger's cyborg. Coincidentally, in "Eraser" (Eraser [Blu-ray]), Schwarzenegger portrayed a U.S. marshal who was protecting Vanessa Williams from a rogue agent and his team of professional hit men. This film had the potential to be extremely sensual; alas, if only Schwarzenegger and Williams had made love in front of that cabin's fireplace.

In "Sailor," Gina and Gray have great chemistry. They, along with Luke and the ugly dog, become a family in peril. A loving person with a painful background, Gray will do anything, no matter how risky, in order to protect Gina and Luke. Also, in one of the novel's many subplots, there is some romance between terHorst's pudgy daughter Dee and the man in a black ski mask, DeWitt Smith, who is holding her captive while Groh and Bulgakov join forces with terHorst and the Lingos.

The sun-dappled, tourist paradise of Southern California and blazing, out-of-control brush fires provide the background for this fast-paced, high body count noir that is nearly impossible to put down. (Four people are brutally slain within the first thirty pages.) There are some gruesome scenes, especially those involving war-torn Kangari, that are not for the squeamish. Also, the overgrown, country hick Lingo brothers tell some racist jokes that might offend African-American readers. Some devout Christians might also be offended by the Bible-quoting terHorst who warns of God's coming judgment while brutally slaying innocent bystanders. A vile villain, Frank terHorst is the ultimate hypocrite.

Shocking, gruesome violence permeates Tom Epperson's "Sailor" from beginning to end. No one appears safe. The tension grows unbearable as the lives of all characters, both good and bad, are jeopardized. TerHorst was experiencing minor heart attacks throughout the novel and I thought I'd have one too as the violence intensified towards the end and the shocks appeared to be never ending. This is one bloody crime noir that fans will not want to miss. Furthermore, the ending is a highly emotional one that will pluck at the reader's heartstrings for a long time.

Joseph B. Hoyos
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bring Extra Body Bags June 21 2012
By Gary Griffiths - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Tom Epperson grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go in "Sailor," a neo-noir crime novel that is as taut as James Sallis' iconic "Drive," but not as bleak; a good old-fashioned tale of the mob with biting dark humor that would make Charlie Stella ("Shakedown," "Charlie Opera," "Johnny Porno"...) proud. This is high-octane entertainment that boasts a lean plot, a rapid pace, and an intriguing cast.

Start that cast with "Gray," a shadowy drifter with a quiet demeanor; a vegetarian, a student of qigong martial arts. And a self-proclaimed Navy vet of the engine room of an amphibious landing ship. By chance, Gray's path crosses with sexy Gina, a refugee of a blown witness protection program cover - a program she "joined" after ratting out her mobster husband. There seems no end to the colorful stream of thugs and assassins, including a rogue US Marshall, sent to hunt down and murder Gina, fetching her 10 year old son Luke on the lam with her for return to his grandfather, "Pat the Cat" Cicala, top goomba of a Staten Island crime syndicate. As Gina and Luke narrowly escape their predators, the mysterious Gray of turns out to have skills beyond a good tofu stir-fry recipe and kindness to animals. The sexual tension predictably but effectively builds, while the relationship between Gray and young Luke stays on the right side of maudlin. From the vicious Eastern European hit man pair to the oafish Mac Longo and his Neanderthal sons, Epperson spins a harrowing and gritty thriller flush with brutality, suspense, vengeance, and redemption, back-dropped with suitably harsh landscapes running from the desert's unlikely Salton Sea to the rundown hotels and ramshackle bars dotting southern California's coast and Interstate 10. While Epperson is apparently best know for his screen writing, this is crime fiction of the highest caliber - one of those rare novels that you can't wait to see how it turns out, while at the same time not wanting it to end.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing April 21 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on
`i find this book to be so satisfying.~that is why I read!!!!! ~I want to be Gina in my next life. Adventure is what it is all about. Thank you Tom.
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