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Koko (Blue Rose Trilogy #1)

3.54  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,087 Ratings  ·  204 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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Dec 27, 2010 Maciek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who like long, character driven stories
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
Mar 04, 2015 Arah-Lynda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned, i-said
It has been at least a decade since I last tried to read this book, which I had attempted before on two previous occasions. And I knew how far I had gotten each time, if not by some whiff of remembering; then at least by the markers I had placed where I had stopped each time. It was the pure principal of the thing that fuelled my surpassing both those afore laid markers, not the prose or the characters or the story. If memory serves me correctly I bought this book based solely on my experience o ...more
Dirk Grobbelaar
Mar 11, 2013 Dirk Grobbelaar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, books-i-own
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
Jon Recluse
Apr 13, 2015 Jon Recluse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, thriller
This is the epitome of mystery/thriller writing, penned by a master of literary fiction at the height of his powers.
Four men, bonded by the horrors of war, reunite to hunt one of their own, when a series of brutal killings a world away leads them back into their shared pasts, to face the specter that haunts them all.....KOKO.
A dense, complex book that showcases all of Straub's impressive skills as a wordsmith, disassembling and recreating the world around the reader, word by word, sentence by se
Mar 18, 2015 Kirstin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Koko is absolutely brilliant! This book reads like a recollected nightmare and the twists and turns will leave you dizzy.

James Renner
Mar 20, 2012 James Renner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
mark monday
Oct 21, 2010 mark monday rated it liked it
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.
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
Rabbit {Paint me like one of your 19th century gothic heroines!}
DNF @ Pg 121: I'm having such a hard time focusing on this book when I'm reading it. I find Straub's writing,on his own, really dry. *Sighs* I also really like the anthologies he has edited/complied. *feels like a loser with an unpopular opinion*

I feel really bad, but I will read 20 pages and space out, re-read them, and nothing registers that much. This rarely happens to me. I did really try, but I just feel like I'm just draaaaaging this one along.

I hope other people really like it though. I
Apr 26, 2013 Holly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
Great read; kept me guessing until the end. What a shocker!
Jul 03, 2012 Ethan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
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
S. Redstone
Dec 12, 2011 S. Redstone rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sam Reader
Apr 13, 2014 Sam Reader rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Thomas Strömquist
In Koko, Straub surely succeeded in both depicting monsters and keeping tension without any supernatural parts at all. This is on my to-read list in original language, because I did feel the translation was lacking in parts.
Oct 20, 2009 Kate rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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...
Duncan Ralston
Long-winded but worth the read.
He could have told the same story, shortened by about 200 pages. I love stories about Vietnam and PTSD so this still resonated.
Jun 20, 2014 Madila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The past is in the past because that's where it belongs."

" 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.
Claudia Putnam
Jan 17, 2014 Claudia Putnam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
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
Anna Ligtenberg
May 14, 2012 Anna Ligtenberg rated it really liked it
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 did not like it
Recommends it for: People with insomnia
Shelves: thriller
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Geert Daelemans
Aug 22, 2013 Geert Daelemans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
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
If I could give this a 3.5, I would. I wish I could give it a 4, even. I love Straub. He's a phenomenal writer and his prose is wonderful. His short stories 'Blue Rose' and 'The Juniper Tree' are two of my favourite pieces of short fiction, and both based in the Koko/Blue Rose Trilogy universe, so I expected a lot out of this book.

While his skilful prose was exactly what I expected from a Straub story, I did find the story itself somewhat dragging. I appreciate learning about character backgroun
Chris Brown
Feb 23, 2013 Chris Brown rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 28, 2008 Lisa Greer rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, not-finished
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
Stephen Sealey
Oct 09, 2012 Stephen Sealey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 04, 2012 Robb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting tale about 4 friends in the States who were also survivors of the Vietnam War. This story is as much a psychological examination as it is a mystery/thriller...and I think that's where I got a little confused. It felt, ultimately, a little schizophrenic. Nevertheless, this IS a Peter Straub book, and there are few who can weave a tale as deftly as he while still devoting more than enough time and energy to true character development.

This story started down some really odd streets o
Jan 12, 2015 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was a bit disappointed, as I had loved Ghost Story. It's longer than it needed to be. It's very well written, but not that well thought out? I'm not sure how to describe what I mean, but I'll try. Straub can paint a scene very well, and can fill you with suspense when it's called for, but some of the characters did a lot of things, for extended periods, that defy logic or motivation, even when their inner thoughts are revealed. It's a bit long, and the "reveal" is hard to buy in the end. Still ...more
Charlie Collins
Dec 18, 2015 Charlie Collins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I will definitely have to check out more of Straub's work. This was a thriller/mystery that really kept me entertained.
David B
Sep 13, 2014 David B rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Horror Aficionados : Koko - Peter Straub 75 107 Apr 07, 2015 05:14AM  
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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 about Peter Straub...

Other Books in the Series

Blue Rose Trilogy (3 books)
  • Mystery
  • The Throat

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