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Koko (Blue Rose Trilogy #1)

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3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  5,689 ratings  ·  163 reviews
"Koko..." Only four men knew what it meant...

But now, more readers than ever will pick up this masterpiece of thriller writing-and discover Peter Straub at his terrifying best.
Paperback, 608 pages
Published November 1st 1989 by Signet (first published 1988)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Maciek
Koko is a lenghty tome. My paperback copy spans 640 pages and promises great things - a haunting nightmare of four Vietnam veterans, reunited 15 years after the war, thrust back into the horrors of the war when they learn about a chain of murders comitted in Southeast Asia - the murderer always leaves a playing card with the word "Koko" scribbled on it. The word has eerie connotations for the four men - they believe that a former member of their platoon is behind the murders.

After Floating Drago...more
Dirk Grobbelaar
Tricksy Review

Where to start? An uneasy read, this.

There is real madness to be found here. A brooding, heady insanity.

Koko, the novel, is a disjointed, psychological, somewhat confusing affair. Why then is it such a good read? Well, because that is also the best way to describe half the characters in this piece of work. There is certainly method to the madness here. And Koko himself? He's certainly a disturbed man… and it rubs off.

This book is not a quick read, it's everything but, and when I...more
mark monday
the atmosphere of degradation, regret, self-loathing, and impending doom was pervasive and absorbing. the author shows a sure hand with characterization and a steady one with narrative. the identity of the killer was unsurprising but well-conceived. and either as an extended metaphor for What We Did Wrong in Vietnam or as an ominous tract on the depths that some men can sink in their hunger for self-destruction, Koko certainly succeeds.
James Renner
Found this novel staring at me from the shelf of a used book store about a year ago. I picked it up, saw it was a first edition, and decided I had nothing to lose at the discounted price of $2.50. As I walked it to the counter, a single playing card fell out of the middle of the book, where, I assume, someone had marked a page. Only later did I come to discover how disturbing an omen this was.

My only exposure to Peter Straub (excellent Slate interview here) before this book was through his colla...more
Julie Failla Earhart
Peter Straub is considered one of the greatest thriller writers of our time; second only perhaps to the master Stephen King. Yet, somehow I missed never reading anything by Straub. When Anchor Books re-released Koko, the first book in the “Blue Rose Trilogy,” I jumped at the chance to review it.
The Washington Post claimed that the 1988 work was “brilliantly written…an inspired thriller…(Straub’s) finest work.” I was ready, eager, anxious, and waiting when the almost six-hundred-page paperback la...more
Ethan
Totally and utterly amazing. I bought this book for two reasons: it was written by the co-author of The Talisman, and it was a hardcover book in good condition that cost me $1.00.
This was the first book by Peter Straub that I read, and it absolutely blew me away. While this book is not exactly a horror story, it does have spine-tingling moments. One public opinion I resent is that horror fiction has to involve supernatural occurrences, but in this case I have to agree. This book does not incorp...more
Holly
Great read; kept me guessing until the end. What a shocker!
Philip
I first read Koko almost 20 years ago, and I remember thinking it was OK. Recently, our reading of Stephen King's Desperation prompted me to revisit Koko, because I thought Julie might like something by Straub. And I'm glad I revisited this book -- it's a much better novel than I remembered, and Julie and I both thoroughly enjoyed it.

Koko is a powerful psychological thriller about four Vietnam vets who, 15 years after the war, realize that a string of grisly murders in southeast Asia bears the u...more
S. Bruce Redstone
No one could say that Peter Straub can't write a beautiful sentence or that his description of people and places isn't excellent. I love his usage of language. This is 562 pages long. But, what I have found with horror writers, they seem to have a need to prove that they are better writers, which is ridiculous, and begin to picture themselves as great literary figures. And that is what I feel happened in this book. After forty pages, I had no idea who the main character really is; I have bits an...more
Madila
"The past is in the past because that's where it belongs."

"...no story existed without its own past, and the past of a story was what enabled us to understand it."


I enjoyed Straub's novel. The prose is fluid and, at times, poetic. The story just didn't resonate with me. Maybe my expectations were off...I was hoping for a little horror and it didn't even need to be supernatural. The book is deep, it simply didn't connect with me.
Sam Reader
"So what's it like to kill someone?"
"I can't tell you."
- Unnamed Cabbie and Michael Poole


Koko is brutal. It is, perhaps, the most disturbing and uncomfortable book I have ever had the "pleasure" of reading. I phrase it that way because I can acknowledge that the book is well-written, that Peter Straub has an amazing turn of phrase, and that there is a brilliant thread at work here. But what Straub manages to do with Koko is to explore the feelings of trauma, guilt, and psychological sufferin...more
Anna Ligtenberg
ISBN 0451162145 - Tough book to review, but a pretty quick (not easy, just quick!) read, Koko is worth the time! I often feel like the number of typos that get through is a good indicator of how highly (or lowly) the book is seen by the publisher and Koko has a mere 6 in 595 pages - but two mistakes really bothered me. Early in the book, Conor's shirt has yellow letters and two pages later, the letters are orange; late in the book, Koko leaves a note which reads, in part, "I have no name" and is...more
Tee Jay
Apr 13, 2010 Tee Jay rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People with insomnia
Shelves: thriller
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Geert Daelemans
The devastation of war

Not all memories from their time in Vietnam are fully understood by the four war veterans who gather for a reunion held at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC. Michael Poole invited Tina Pumo, Conor Linklater and Harry Beevers to join him and share stories of the time they battled in the same platoon. But that's not all they will talk about. The Stars and Stripes magazine recently ran an article on a series of ritualistic murders in the Far East. All of the victims ha...more
Chris Brown
I presume the only reason this book made the best seller lists was due to the public's fascination with psychotic Vietnam war vets. Not only is it boring, the character actions are completely stupid ("Here's a great idea, the killer is isolated in a basement completely unaware that several precints worth of police are blanketing his neighborhood looking for him. No, lets not notify the police, lets openly enter the basement unarmed in order to reason with him. Oh no! He escaped using us as hosta...more
Lisa Greer
This book has an interesting premise: a group of Vietnam vets get back together 20 years later... and they end up looking for the evil killer who calls himself Koko. From what I can tell, it is someone the protagonist and his friends might have known in Vietnam. In the beginning, the novel is set with the opening ceremonies for the Vietnam Memorial. Since the war was such a horror in its own right, this novel seems to be a natural. Straub is a good writer, and it's enjoyable so far.

****
Darn. Wha...more
Stephen Sealey
This was quite possibly the first truly scary book I had ever read. Before this novel, I had only been exposed to fantastic horror novels. But the scare tactics used by Peter Straub in this work surpass them all just by being believable. This novel exposed me to the idea that perhaps the most monstrous thing in this world is our fellow man. Gripping and terrifying. Surreal yet believable. One word of warning though, I can picture this book having a dramatically bad effect on any Viet Nam veteran...more
David B
A group of Vietnam veterans search for a former member of their old unit, who they believe has become a serial killer called Koko. The identity and nature of Koko is inextricably bound up with a horrible experience that they all share--the massacre of children in a Vietnamese village.

This is a long novel. Straub paints fully realized characters with complicated and believable motivations. At times, the horror aspects of the novel take a back seat to the more straightforward human drama in his ch...more
Joe Cummings
Peter Straub is hailed as a master of both paranormal and psychological thrillers. After the big success of his 1979 novel "Ghost Story, he wanted to write more about horror that was not paranormal. His 1988 novel "Koko" is centered around a group of Vietnam veterans dealing with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) years after all the American soldiers had gone home and South Vietnam had fallen to the communists.

Every war has had its name for PTSD. In the first World War, it was called shell s...more
Claudia Putnam
I'll stick my neck out and characterize this book of Straub's as litfic. It's as good a Vietnam novel as the best of them. It's horrific, but not horror. Read it a few years ago and don't have enough details in my mind to write a full review, but I remember that it's vividly told and characterized, and very well written. The book has something to say and says it well, and I'm surprised it's not brought up in more reviews of contemporary war novels, the way, say, The Things They Carried is (deser...more
Todd
All these years later, I can STILL feel the disapointment brought on by this book. Shadowland and Ghost Story are two of my favorites and when this came out in hardback, I snapped it up just as soon as I could get to the local indy bookstore (oh the days before B&N and Borders...)

Did not finish and quite frankly, probably colored my reasoning against taking a chance of Straub since (not counting his collaborations with Stephen King.)
Glendon Perkins
A fantastic novel about the war men suffer from their time in Vietnam. A deep mystery about a man they all admired and his association with gruesome murders. A story of a man's struggle with the death of a young child both in physical form and in the form of emotional torture. "Koko" is about lost men, about comrades, about pride, about death, and about letting go. Do not miss out on this magnificent read by Peter Straub.
Tom
This one gets five stars from me because this was the book, seventeen years ago, or so, that changed me from someone who read now and then into an avid reader. I got summoned for jury duty, my first time, and grabbed this book off my bookshelf on the way out of the door. Turns out it was a lucky grab cause it was a great book and I've never not been in the middle of reading one book or another since.
Stephen
The initial similarities between this and Straub's other masterpiece, Ghost Story, are inescapable. Four older guys meet up to discuss something they did not resolve in the past. It comes back to haunt them. One is a shape shifter, and one is virtually unchanging in its determination.

There were some freaky psycho-sexual scenes in this thing, so if you see your tween reading this book, take it away from them and give it back when they go to college.

A number of reviewers have mentioned some fact...more
Kate
I know I tried to read this book... It had something to do with the Vietnam War, but I never found out what "Koko" meant and I couldn't shake the idea that it was about a gorilla...
Jaime Contreras
This was little hard to decipher and read. But once one does, it is an in-depth pscyhological trip into guilt, madness and grief as shared by four veterans.
Jaime Contreras
This was little hard to decipher but once one does, it is an in-depth pscyhological trip into guilt, madness and grief as shared by four veterans.
John
This book is very powerful. I've developed an odd paranoia from reading it. Everyone I see or meet now, I think they are a vet from Vietnam.
Salvatore
A good read. A little predictable but the reasoning behind the predictable is anything but predictable.
Kit★
Jul 13, 2013 Kit★ marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Another Straub for my TBR pile, I swear, I'm gonna read this guy's books one of these days :)
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Peter Straub was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 2 March, 1943, the first of three sons of a salesman and a nurse. The salesman wanted him to become an athlete, the nurse thought he would do well as either a doctor or a Lutheran minister, but all he wanted to do was to learn to read.

When kindergarten turned out to be a stupefyingly banal disappointment devoted to cutting animal shapes out of heavy...more
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