The Spinning Man

The Spinning Man

3.6 3
by George Harrar

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Mild-mannered philosophy professor Evan Birch spends his days teaching college students to seek truth. Then, one afternoon, he's pulled over by the police, handcuffed, and questioned about the disappearance of a local high school cheerleader. When the missing girl's lipstick turns up in his car, the evidence against him begins to build. Even his wife and sons are

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Mild-mannered philosophy professor Evan Birch spends his days teaching college students to seek truth. Then, one afternoon, he's pulled over by the police, handcuffed, and questioned about the disappearance of a local high school cheerleader. When the missing girl's lipstick turns up in his car, the evidence against him begins to build. Even his wife and sons are having their doubts. And as the investigating officer engages him in a decidedly non-Socratic dialogue, Evan Birch begins to understand that truth may be elusive indeed-but sometimes you have to pick a story and stick with it...

From prize-winning author George Harrar, The Spinning Man offers riveting, whip-smart suspense in a tale in which every word matters-and questions of guilt and innocence are suddenly much more than academic.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
A graceful and subtle writer, Harrar invites us to identify with the philosopher's struggles to maintain his mental equilibrium, even as the novel dangles the possibility that the mind might not always be in control of the body's behaviors. Just a thought … if thoughts can be trusted. — Marilyn Stasio
The Washington Post
The combination of a suspenseful did-he-or-didn't-he plot and an unblinking look at the tensions of family life makes The Spinning Man an interesting, offbeat read. — Patrick Anderson
Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
This riveting, whip-smart suspense novel by Harrar (First Tiger) follows a philosophy professor under investigation for the disappearance of a teenage cheerleader. Evan Birch gets pulled over by the police one evening on his way home from the supermarket with his 10-year-old twin sons. The police haul him in for interrogation, and he learns that a car much like his was spotted at the park where 16-year-old Joyce Bonner, a local high school student, was working the afternoon she disappeared. He's released after questioning, but damning circumstantial evidence continues to pile up: the police impound Birch's car and find evidence that Bonner was a passenger, leading Birch to remember that he gave several teenagers a ride across campus around the time of the murder. It turns out that the girl had a crush on Birch, and speculation mounts about a possible affair between them, fueled by the handsome professor's habitual flirtatious manner with young women. Birch is coolly bemused as he filters the police questions through the prism of philosophy and falls back on the wisdom of Wittgenstein. His wife, Ellen, treats the dilemma with an icy calm, but eventually even she begins to have doubts, going so far as to question their sons about their park visit during the day of the murder. The interactions between husband, wife and the police detective crackle with sharp dialogue. The result is a first-rate thriller that offers gut-wrenching suspense, ironic humor and a devious, cerebral suspect, with a stunning finale to boot. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A harrowing psychological thriller from Harrar (Parents Wanted, 2001, etc.) about a mild-mannered philosophy professor who falls under suspicion of kidnapping. Evan Birch has managed to piece together a rather nice life for himself. Happily married and father of twin sons, he has a tenured chair in the philosophy department of Pearce College and has published a new study (Disturbing Minds: Mania, Mayhem, and Melancholy in the Philosophic Life) that he expects will cement his reputation as one of the most original minds in his field. But fate is a fickle thing. Driving home from the supermarket with his sons one night, Evan is pulled over and taken to the police station in handcuffs. Robert Malloy, the detective who interrogates Evan, explains that they�re investigating the kidnapping of a local teenager named Joyce Bonner and that Evan�s car matches the description of the last vehicle Bonner was seen in before her disappearance. Where was Evan on the afternoon of August 23rd? Evan provides an alibi and is allowed to go�but Malloy soon comes calling again. Certain aspects of Evan�s story don�t fit. For one thing, a search of Evan�s car has produced lipstick, a cigarette lighter, and strands of hair that belonged to Joyce. Later on, the detective learns from Joyce�s diary that she not only knew Evan but was in love with him (her friends say they thought she was having an affair). And Evan�s own family begins to have doubts. His wife finds a book of hotel matches in Evan�s jacket with the cryptic annotation "7:00 p.m." on it. One of his sons admits that his father was over an hour late picking him up from camp on the day Joyce disappeared. And what�s behind the nickname ("Professor Romeo")that Evan�s students have given him? There�s enough here for Malloy to make an arrest. And enough for a jury to convict? A splendid exercise in suspense and terror: keeps you guessing right to the end.

Product Details

Blue Hen Trade
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.22(h) x 0.89(d)

Meet the Author

George Harrar is the author of the novel First Tiger, as well as two books for young adults. His short story "The 5:22" won the Carson McCullers Prize from Story magazine and was selected for The Best American Short Stories 1999. He lives with his wife, Linda, a documentary filmmaker.

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The Spinning Man 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a superb novel. As a professor of philosophy, I fully expected this book to be implausible in its philosophical aspects. What a pleasant surprise, therefore, to find that the author shows not only philosophical sophistication but also the ability to make his academic setting realistic and even funny at times. The continual analysis by his protagonist Evan Birch of the other characters' language and thoughts is both clever and integral to Birch's personality. For all its erudition, this book is never boring, difficult, or pedantic -- on the contrary, it is gripping, dramatic, and at times explosive. This is a brilliant work that stands head and shoulders above the normal 'crime' novel. Don't trust the single negative review, but instead look at the others -- all by professional critics who understand the subtlety of this great book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's a wonder this book was ever published. I forced myself to finish it, reading two to three pages at a time. It usually put me right to sleep. It certainly didn't keep my interest, going on page after page, but never getting anywhere. The title is appropriate. It could be called 'The Spinning Book'. The book is not worth the $1.80 I paid for it. And think of all those trees!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Professor Evan Birch is the chairman of the Philosophy Department at Pear College, an area of study that has very little student enrollment. He¿s happily married to his wife Ellen who works at the Institute for Private studies. They have identical twin ten-year-old boys Adam and Zed who give them very little trouble. They could be the role model of the idyllic American family until Detective Robert Malloy questions Evan concerning the disappearance of a sixteen year old girl. Joyce Bonner was last seen on August 23 in the information booth at a local party where she worked. An eyewitness reports that a gray car with a license plate starting with EZ was seen there with a man inside. Evan admits he was there, but insisting he was only formulating lessons for his class. The police doubt his statement and they repeatedly question him. Soon his friends, faculty members and family believe where there¿s smoke there¿s fire and question his innocence. Whatever the police finally determine, Evan realizes the stigma will always remain with him because people have long memories of the negative. Taken from the headlines, the protagonist¿s guilt or innocence in the disappearance of the teenager is almost irrelevant because the media, his family and his co-workers have already convicted him whether he is innocent or not. Mindful of the rush to judgment to unfairly hang Richard Jewel a hero at the Atlanta Olympics, and apparently the current Anthrax investigation of Dr. Steven Hatfill, THE SPINNING MAN shows how lives can be ripped apart just by being a suspect in a criminal investigation. Harriet Klausner