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The Caretaker of Lorne Field

The Caretaker of Lorne Field

4.1 7
by Dave Zeltserman

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Dave Zeltserman's last novel was named by NPR as one of the top five crime and mystery novels of 2008 and one of The Washington Post's best books of the year.

Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, said his "breakthrough third crime novel deserves comparison with the best of James Ellroy." And Crimetime calls him a name to watch." Now, Zeltserman has written


Dave Zeltserman's last novel was named by NPR as one of the top five crime and mystery novels of 2008 and one of The Washington Post's best books of the year.

Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, said his "breakthrough third crime novel deserves comparison with the best of James Ellroy." And Crimetime calls him a name to watch." Now, Zeltserman has written the book his fans have been waiting for?a classic unlike anything you've ever read.

Jack Durkin is the ninth generation of Durkins who have weeded Lorne Field for nearly 300 years. Though he and his wife Lydia are miserable and would like nothing more than to leave, Jack must wait until his son has come of age to tend the field on his own. It's an important job, though no one else seems to realize it. For, if the field is left untended, a horrific monster called an Aukowie will grow?a monster capable of taking over the entirety of America in just two weeks. Or so it is said. . .

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Zeltserman’s superb mix of humor and horror focuses on Jack Durkin, the ninth generation of firstborn sons in his family who have daily weeded Lorne Field to purge it of Aukowies, bloodthirsty plants that could overrun the world in weeks if not attended to. Though Jack takes his job seriously, no one else does: his oldest son doesn’t want to follow in his footsteps; his wife is tired of living poorly on his caretaker’s salary; and the townspeople who subsidize him are increasingly skeptical of purported menaces that no one has ever seen because Jack diligently nips them in the bud. With his support dwindling, Jack finds himself driven to desperate measures to prove that he’s truly saving the world. Zeltserman (Pariah) orchestrates events perfectly, making it impossible to tell if Jack is genuinely humankind’s unsung hero or merely the latest descendant of a family of superstitious loonies. Readers will keep turning the pages to see how the ambiguous plot resolves. (July)
From the Publisher
"If Stephen King had a true Noir calling and Peter Straub added contemporary horrorS and Dean Koontz threw in his fine depiction of ordinary life on the edge of the unknownS then bring the specter of James M. Cain to write the narrative, you'd come close to describing the whole effect of this stunning slice for the zeitgeist wondrous novel and the writing is- pure dark bliss." — Ken Bruen, author of London Boulevard

"The Caretaker of Lorne Field is a magnificent novel, with truly believable characters and suspense that keeps building to an explosive climax. There it is, plain and simple." — Seymour Shubin, Edgar Award finalist, author of Anyone's My Name

This superbly crafted horror story explores the dichotomy between belief and rationality. Why has a small town maintained a contract since the eighteenth century with a member of the community and his heirs to pull weeds in Lorne Field? Jack Durkin, the current and ninth generation of Lorne Field caretakers, says the things he pulls from the ground aren't weeds; they are something called Aukowies, and if they're not pulled up by the roots and burned every day, the world will end. Under pressure from his wife to get a real job; from the town fathers (looking to save a few bucks and end the contract); and from his sons, who don't see themselves as career weed- pullers, Durkin is finally out of a job. No more weed pulling. So is he just a nut case, or does the novel segue into another Little Shop of Horrors? Sorry, we don't do spoilers. Horror fans will have to read this first-class cautionary tale themselves. — Elliott Swanson, Booklist

"Zeltserman is the author of increasingly accomplished crime novels, distinguished by spare and crisp prose, believable dialogue, imaginative plot twists and tightly wound characters who don't wear out their welcome." — Newsday

"Delicious horror-ish novel-Zeltserman is fully in control." — Newsday (Long Island)

"Dark and exciting as all hellS With every chapter Zeltserman turns up the tensionS This is one of those novels, like Cormac McCarthy's The Road, that should be shoved in the hands of young readers to show them that books can be complex thematically while also fucking thrilling at the same time. The prose, typical of Zeltserman's work, is tight, no-bullshit stuff and the story masterfully never tips its hand or oversells its message." -Spinetingler Magazine

"Zeltserman deftly drags the reader through the story, keeping you wondering about the truth." — Dallas Morning News

"Superb mix of humor and horrorSZeltserman orchestrates events perfectlySReaders will keep turning pages to see how the ambiguous plot resolves." — Publishers Weekly

"Harrowing. Zeltserman colors it black with the best of them." — Kirkus Reviews

"The black comedy of errors that ensues invites comparison to storiesby Kafka, David Prill, James Hynes, William Browning Spencer, and other authors who have mused on the dark side of daily breadwinningS Though Zeltserman's approach is clearly tongue-in-cheek, he deftly balances the competing interests of the characters to keep the truth of the narrative events ambiguous. A few deaths at conveniently inopportune moments and several coincidental fades to black only add to the dramatic tension of the narrative. Stories of this kind are hard to pull off and often collapse under the weight of their outrageous premises long before they end. It's to Zeltserman's credit that his novel holds together up to and through the final paragraph, and that it compels the reader to stay with it for that long." — LOCUS Magazine

"Crime writer Zeltserman has produced a nail-biter...The narrative is straightforward and gritty, reminiscent of works of Dashiell Hammett...gripping and actually Ohorrifying," this title is recommended for horror fans and readers who may relish unpleasant surprises." — Library Journal

"The Caretaker of Lorne Field is a fabulous amusing tale that grips the reader with a need to know whether the monster is real, a centuries old con, or generational lunacy" — Midwest Book Review

"Part noir and part Stephen Cain, with a dash of James M. Cain thrown in for good measure. Zeltserman is one of the more cogent of the neo-noirists, and this might be his best yetS Book by book, Zeltserman is proving himself to be one of the best." — CrimeTime Blog

"The Caretaker of Lorne Field succeeds as a horror novel, a psychological thriller and a haunting parable, even in some ways that Zeltserman may not have intended. There are dark levels to this work, some of which are immediately evident and others of which reveal themselves only upon later reflection. I don't know if the book will come to be regarded as a classic, either now or at some point in the future, but it deserves to be." —Bookreporter

Product Details

The Overlook Press
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File size:
941 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Dave Zeltserman is the author of ten horror and crime novels, including Monster, a Booklist Top 10 Horror Fiction selection; The Caretaker of Lorne Field, shortlisted by the American Library Association for best horror novel of 2010; and A Killer’s Essence. He lives in the Boston area.

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The Caretaker of Lorne Field 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Like eight generations of first sons of ancestors before him, Jack Durkin works weed control at Lorne Field. His job sounds mundane, but is actually dangerous. He and his ancestors remove the feral blood sucking Aukowies plants that could take over the entire globe in a few weeks if removal is neglected. Jack works diligently, but the next in line, his oldest son Lester, believes his father is a crackpot and refuses to do the job when it is his turn. He has his mom Lydia's support as she is tired of the family living impoverished on a caretaker salary while also seeing her oldest offspring as her ticket (and that of Jack) out of the caretaking drudgery. Even the townsfolk who have paid the Durkin salary for nine generations balk at a threat no one has seen; mostly because Jack takes care of business before the Aukowies can bloom. Feeling increasingly alone, Jack believes it is time to prove his worth, but the only way he can do so is let the plants bloom. The Caretaker of Lorne Field is a fabulous amusing tale that grips the reader with a need to know whether the monster is real, a centuries old con, or generational lunacy. Jack is great as he believes, but is caught in the dilemma of his only proof is to let the Aukowies run wild. Dave Zeltserman is at his zany, dark yet in an odd way profound thriller. Harriet Klausner
msockol More than 1 year ago
Dave Zeltserman has transformed a basic parable about monsters into a cautionary tale about the power and limitations of faith. A simple man fulfills a contract handed down from generation to generation. As his family, friends, and health betray him, he is left alone to face a crushing burden--the preservation of the entire human race. The Caretaker of Lorne Field offers a brilliant and timeless allegory about how each of us addresses the values and beliefs that guide our lives and the repercussions that we face if we stray from our appointed path.
CAJ45 More than 1 year ago
1.5 stars because I finished. Really....horror?? I must not know what horror is because this book is a far cry from what I think is horror. It is so slow and right when it starts to pick up it ends just like that. Horror? I'm scratching my on this one. I wouldn't even deem this thriller or suspense.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
medoohsa More than 1 year ago
My boychild told me to get this book. It's a really fast read, and have I mentioned..."Wow"...
The_Drowning_Machine More than 1 year ago
Jack Durkin would love to quit his job, but that's not possible. It's not the money; the money is lousy and he could do better. It's not that he has a rotten boss. He's basically his own boss, although his hours and duties are clearly outlined in his employment contract. No, Jack can't quit his job because if he does, life on this planet will end. So Jack works hard every day, saving the world. What this superhero does is pull the weeds in Lorne Field. Everyday, from can-see to can't. Well, those weeds aren't really weeds, they just disguise themselves as weeds. They're really a nasty, bloodthirsty bunch of monsters called Aukowies, that must be pulled from the ground and burned every day. Left unchecked, they would grow so fast, become so unstoppable, they would destroy the world in a matter of weeks. So Jack pulls the weeds and burns them. Jack is the ninth generation of Durkins to work this field. That's roughly 300 years the Durkins have been saving the world on a daily basis. And people used to revere Jack's family; they took care of the Durkins and paid them well. People used to understand that the Durkins gave up most of life's pleasures so that we could all stay alive. Used to. Nowadays everyone thinks Jack is just a crazy man. Including his wife, a woman worn beyond her years, a woman who wears her bitterness with a kind of twisted pride. Though misunderstood, ridiculed, and persecuted, the gentle Jack lets nothing sway him from the job. And then one day, his wife decides that the contract must be broken, setting in motion a wheel of tragedy and horror. I read several reviews of The Caretaker of Lorne Field, wanting to see if other readers had a similar experience with this book as I did. It quickly became clear to me that this is a book no two people will see in exactly the same way. Some reviewers saw it as strictly a horror story. Several reviewers called the book "darkly funny" or thought it a mix of horror and humor. I found this story layered with dread and unease, and not funny at all. Mostly I found it sad and poignant, an expose of just how callous and mean we are. Not "society," not "people." Us. That's how on-target are the characters in this book, how very ordinary they are in their selfishness, in their reliance on conformity, and their intolerance of whoever and whatever does not conform. Some reviewers thought there were underlying parallels to fascist politics, either modern or historical. I saw religious parallels, a morality play. Jack Durkin is in many ways subjected to the physical and emotional hammerings as Job of the Old Testament. Like Job, Jack endures but at enormous cost to himself and to those he loves. And in some ways, Jack is a Christ-like figure: Every weed Jack pulls is a sin forgiven, and sins must be forgiven because otherwise, the wages of sin are death. Like Christ, Jack intercedes, again at great personal cost and risk, to save an ungrateful humanity. Jack is persecuted and arrested for crimes he has not committed. Or has he? Is Jack really just a (pardon the pun) garden-variety maniac? Is he the kind of lunatic who would cut off his son's thumb to prove the existence of creatures who really only exist in his mind? Is Jack so deeply obsessed, so much a monster himself that he would murder to protect his delusions? Or was it the Aukowies who committed these crimes? Are they smart enough to know just how best to weaken their enemy? The autho