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Cul-de-Sac: A Novel

Cul-de-Sac: A Novel

4.0 6
by David Martin

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suspenseful, frightening, and gripping thriller about a family secret and a wrongly accused murderer from the author of Lie to Me. Here, David Martin brings back his most engaging hero: retired Detective Teddy Camel--a.k.a. "The Human Lie Detector"--on his last case.


suspenseful, frightening, and gripping thriller about a family secret and a wrongly accused murderer from the author of Lie to Me. Here, David Martin brings back his most engaging hero: retired Detective Teddy Camel--a.k.a. "The Human Lie Detector"--on his last case.

Editorial Reviews

Washington Post
Compelling and terrifying, David Martin dares you to read to the end.
San Francisco Chronicle
Reading David Martin is not unlike watching a death-defying tightrope walker perform without a net.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
At the beginning of Martin's stylish but unbearably brutal new thriller, Donald Growler puts a severed human head into a washing machine, pours in some shampoo after it, notes it's called Head & Shoulders, thinks "Or in this case just Head," then muses: "It wasn't that difficult being a homicidal maniac." Not exactly a thigh-slapper, but that's about as light as the book gets. The ferocious Growler was once wrongfully accused of murder; after his release from a crippling jail sentence, he goes around systematically slaughtering, in lubriciously painful detail, the people he believes set him up. Since one of them is perky heroine Annie Milton, with whom ex-cop Teddy Camel once had an affair, Camel finds himself drawn into the hunt for Growler-which in this case consists mostly of trying to stay alive and keep Annie ditto. With the aid of a couple of really crooked cops, a hideous old house that doubles as a torture chamber and sundry cruelties, including a victim burned alive, the nailing of someone's foot to the floor, several beheadings, a sanguinary garroting and an ingeniously contrived electrocution, Martin eventually thins out his cast. The fact that he writes swiftly and with some wit doesn't really compensate for the strain on the reader. This and the recent Bone Collector (Forecasts, Dec. 16) seem to be part of a campaign to prove that writers can reach new depths in depicting violence if they put their minds to it. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Martin has been praised for his willingness to experiment with character and tone. Here, retired police detective Teddy Camel, introduced in Lie to Me (LJ 6/1/90), agrees to help a former lover make sense of her husband's involvement with an ex-con bent on revenge for a wrongful-murder sentence. A mysterious mansion, millions in gold, photos of possible blackmail, and strong hints of a police cover-up of an earlier murder complicate Camel's investigation. By the time ten bodies amass, many minus their heads, readers have been immersed in blood, lies, and the bizarre inner workings of more than one twisted mind. This noir tale leaves no one unscathed. Even Camel, the "human lie detector," is forced to lie. Not for the squeamish, this will nevertheless please Martin's fans. For most fiction/suspense collections.-Roland C. Person, Morris Lib., Southern Illinois Univ., Carbondale
Journal Library
Not for the squeamish.
World Tulsa
Kirkus Reviews
Another gruesome and rudely funny thriller from the author of Lie to Me (1990), Bring Me Children (1992), and other vivid exercises in contemporary Grand Guignol.

In vigorous parallel scenes that feature literally dozens of teasing cliff-hangers, Martin leads us in and out of the title domicile, a "decaying former hotel-hospital-asylum . . . [a] sixty-room monstrosity in the Virginia exurbs of Washington, D.C." Its new owner and renovator, Paul Milton, who also volunteers aid to prisoners undergoing rehabilitation, unhappily meets up with ex- convict Donald Growler, the innocent man who was framed for the murder of a teenaged girl committed several years earlier at Cul- de-Sac—and whose brutalization in prison has converted him into a vengeful psychopath. That implausibility aside, the novel rocks along agreeably, piling up bodies (there are ten killings, none at all genteel), and deftly introducing characters involved in both the story's background and in its present action. Paul's wife Annie seeks the aid of her onetime lover, ex-cop Teddy Camel ("the Human Lie Detector," and a recurring Martin character), and he soon sniffs out evidence of a conspiracy that points to the murdered girl's family and to the police who investigated her death, as well as suggesting the existence of a mysterious "elephant" for which many people are more than willing to slaughter many other people. Meanwhile, Growler, having sworn to gain revenge on those who gave false testimony at his trial, blithely indulges his penchant for sexual humiliation, torture, garroting, and decapitation. He's a credible enough monster, the feisty Annie (who's not above violence herself, when it's called for) is an effective endangered heroine, and Teddy Camel has just the right Bogartian mixture of cynical ennui and soured romanticism. If only these people weren't wiping blood off themselves and one another every few pages. . . .

Expert technique pretty much wasted on sadistic excess.

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Random House Publishing Group
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Random House
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2 MB

What People are Saying About This

Elmore Leonard
What I like best about a David Martin suspense novel -- and it will grab you, I guarantee -- is that the man knows how to write.
James Ellroy
David Martin is a heartbreakingly deft chronicler of human passion.

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Cul-de-Sac 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love the way that this book is so detailed it feels like you there, felling the same thing the people in the book are. I've read it over and over agine, I can't get enough of it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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