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The Straw Men [Paperback]

Michael Marshall
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 2002
In Palmerston, Pennsylvania,
two men in long coats walk calmly into a crowded fast food restaurant-then, slowly and methodically, gun down sixty-eight people. They take time to reload.

On the Promenade of Santa Monica, California, a teenaged girl gives sightseeing tips to a distinguished English tourist. She won't be going home tonight.

In Dyersburg, Montana, a grief-stricken son tries to make sense of the accident that killed his parents-then finds a note stuffed in his father's favorite chair. It says, "We're not dead."

Three seemingly unrelated events, these are the first signs of an unimaginable network of fear that will lead one unlikely hero to a chilling confrontation with The Straw Men. No one knows who they are-or why they kill. But they must be stopped. Michael Marshall's electrifying debut novel is an instant masterpiece of modern suspense. An epic thriller for anyone who has feared that someone is watching us.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Marshall's debut thriller, which is essentially two seemingly independent stories that meet in the middle, takes its time hooking readers. But once the complex and disparate plot lines meld, this expansive work demands the readers attention. In Dyersburg, Mont., narrator Ward Hopkins, attempting to make sense of the accident that killed his parents, discovers a note and videotape that lead him to believe their lives (and deaths) were not as they appeared. Meanwhile, the abduction of 14-year-old Sarah Becker renews the search for a serial killer who scalps his victims, embroiders their names into sweaters using their hair and then delivers the clothing to the victims parents. As Ward and his CIA buddy slowly unravel the mystery surrounding Wards parents, FBI agent Nina Baynam and former LAPD homicide detective John Zandt search for the elusive killer. Their paths cross when a series of connections is made between the victims and a bizarre cult known as The Straw Men. Marshall's book is filled with pages of uninterrupted description, which, while compelling, doesn't make for fast reading. But, to borrow a cliche, the devil is in the details. Thats certainly the case with this novel, whose graphic scenes of child abuse and dismemberment depict humankind at its most evil.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.


It's brilliantly written and scary as hell. -- Stephen King

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THE FUNERAL WAS A NICE AFFAIR, IN THAT IT was well attended and people dressed appropriately and nobody stood up at any point and said, "You realize this means they're dead." Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, maybe 3 and a half stars Jan. 24 2006
Format:Mass Market Paperback
It was suspenseful enough to make me keep turning the pages.
Not so bad a book however like many other reviewers were saying there were some things that weren't really explained. Maybe Marshall wanted to leave them up to the readers' imagination.
For example, I am still curious on why Ward's Dad left him the note in a very hard-to-find spot ?...and that the note really meant nothing after all..
As a whole, the story is well-written. I wouldn't mind reading the sequel, The Upright Man.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Decent from start to finish July 17 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The book is a smooth read. Somewhat predictable but good character development and a ending that welcomes a sequel that has just been released. Defiantly a must have book for the beach or camping trip. I give it a 7.5 out of 10.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Be prepared to feel cheated... May 15 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
At this point I don't think I need to go over what the book is about, the other reviews do that quite well. I am not the type of person who has to have all the loose ends tied up for me when I read a story or watch a film. I do not need everything neatly concluded and explained at the end. However, this book has some major issues with the believability of the circumstances that result in the twists and turns of the plot. It also has a problem with bringing the numerous story lines of the novel together. I don't mind a novel that leaves me with a little thinking to do, a need to perhaps go back over what has happened in the story to piece together some clues on my own. What I do mind, however, is an ending that is almost deliberately void of ANY conclusions regarding the mysteries that have kept me turning page after page. It is very easy to start a story, very easy to build suspense. It's not so easy, I guess, to end a story in a coherent and believable fashion. People want some reward for the suspense the author has easily created, not to be completely let down for their efforts----their efforts in following the story, keeping all the different plot twists and characters in mind, etc. I felt that the characters in this novel were not very well drawn. The main character, Ward Hopkins---not once could I even remotely picture him as a CIA agent, ex- or otherwise. The FBI agent, Nina---not one glimpse of who she was as a person ever came across, she seemed to be simply a mannequin used to fill the need for a certain type of character in the story. The characters of CIA agent Bobby, and detective Zandt, seemed more real. In one chapter, Ward goes to visit his childhood home, in which someone else is now living. Read more ›
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
THE STRAW MEN plays out like a dream-team collaboration by Stephen King (who hailed the book a masterpiece), Dean Koontz, Thomas Harris, and Michael Slade. Deliriously paranoid, lightning paced, crammed with surprise and invention, action and terror, humor and heartbreak, this is the kind of book that lesser writers will envy and everyone else will just admire to no end. And the happiest part? The formidable Mr. Marshall is clearly here to stay, as evidenced by the recent release of a sequel to this book, entitled THE UPRIGHT MAN. Discover this guy as soon as you can - once everybody is reading him and hit movies are being made from these books, it's sure gonna be fun to be able to say "Oh, yeah, I've been reading him from the beginning!"
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5.0 out of 5 stars New book out!- Sequel! March 24 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I see there's a new paperback out, featuring Ward Hopkins, which I assume is a sequel. Due out 3/30/04. The Upright Man, Michael Marshall. I can't wait to get my hands on it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Will leave you pining for the sequel Dec 17 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Excellent read. The Straw Men has it all. Intriguing main characters, compelling plot, and mind-blowing plot twists. I have no idea why others hated it. I guess there's no in-between. I would highly recommend The Straw Men. I cant wait for the follow up novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars James Patterson Plus Dec 5 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Michael Marshall is the thinking man's James Patterson. It's a shame more people haven't heard of him or more importantly, his book, The Straw Men, which is really more like two books in one. This novel is a mystery and a thriller that is more complex and more satisfying than the typical novel of this type. Pick it up and you won't be able to put it down.
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1.0 out of 5 stars WHY DID MICHAEL MARSHALL DO US THIS WAY? Oct. 24 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Like many other readers I tried to believe that Stephen King Blurb about how scary as $%#% this book was. This was the absolute worst book that I have ever read! I will go on to say that this book got on my nerves. I got to page 221 and deceided that I would not take anymore of this and I just gave up! Please Mr Marshall "DON'T WRITE ANYMORE BOOKS LIKE THIS"
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