Sailor Hardcover – Mar 27 2012
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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.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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
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.
Gray is also a man with a singular focus, and when that focus becomes the delivery of Gina and her young son, Luke, to a safe place, this novel will take you to places you never knew existed. And like Gina and Luke, you'll be both amazed at and eternally grateful for your arrival--grateful to Gray for his courage and decency, and grateful to Epperson for his first class artistry.