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The Executioners

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  7,731 ratings  ·  106 reviews
Murder was merciful compared to what Cady had in mind - and what Cady had in mind most was Bowden's innocent and lovely teen-age daughter.
Paperback, Gold Medal R2055, 160 pages
Published April 1969 by Fawcett Publications, Inc. (first published 1958)
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Zoeytron
I'm late to the game with John D. MacDonald, this being the first of his novels I have read. There will be more, by the gods. Yes, the book is dated, both in ideas and dialog, first published in 1958. It still works pretty well, in a retro sort of way. The conversations between the husband and wife seemed off, couldn't buy it at all. I have to say that the original movie is preferable to the book for me, something that doesn't happen very often. I know the remake starring Robert DeNiro took some ...more
Kristin ❋extols death with luminescent brilliance❋
Read this sometime in the 90's. I remember liking it, significantly more than the movie, but that was likely due to the grossness that is Juliette Lewis.

Nik Morton
It’s 1957 and Sam Bowden is a dedicated lawyer, a happily married man with a lovely wife, Carol, and three children, Jamie, Bucky and Nancy. Way back in 1943, Bowden was a First Lieutenant on the Judge Advocate General’s Department and became a prime witness in the trial and conviction of staff sergeant Max Cady for the assault on a young woman in an alley. Significant memory – ‘I hard a whimpering in an alley. I thought it was a puppy or a kitten. But it was a girl. She was fourteen.’

Cady got l
...more
Kelly
Okay, I have to preface this by saying that the movie of Cape Fear (the one starring Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, and Juliette Lewis) is one of my all-time favorite movies. It is SO incredibly suspenseful and well-acted!!! I've never seen the first one (starring Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchem) but now that I've read the book, I would really like to see the original.

I have to say that the book is not nearly as creepy or suspenseful as the movie (the remake), and there are many differences in plot
...more
Michael
„Willst du erst alle Präzedenzfälle suchen und einen Bericht vorbereiten?“

John D. MacDonalds EIN KÖDER FÜR DIE BESTIE (OT „The Executioners“) ist ein lesenswerter Thriller, doch eines muss vorausgeschickt werden: So lustlos, wie das Cover auf der 1985er Neuauflage im Ullstein Verlag, so katastrophal ist die Übersetzung von Charlotte Richter. Fast jede idiomatische Redewendung gerät ihr zum Fettnapf, aber selbst alltägliches Vokabular scheint ihr nicht geläufig zu sein. Am schlimmsten aber ist, d
...more
Winter  Sophia Rose
Gripping, Intense Cliff Hanger Till The End! I Loved It!
Roger Pettit
"Cape Fear" is a workmanlike, competent novel that falls under the heading of "pulp fiction". It is set in small-town America of the 1950s. The central characters are a young couple - Sam and Carol Bowden - and their three children. Sam is a successful lawyer. When he was serving in the US forces, he gave evidence against a fellow serviceman - Max Cady - who, as a result, was court-martialled and subsequently imprisoned for rape. After serving 13 years of his sentence, a psychotic Cady is releas ...more
John
Years ago, while stationed in Australia during WWII, Sam Bowden apprehended a US serviceman in the process of raping a 14-year-old in a dark alley. The rapist, Max Cady, was sentenced to a life of hard labor.

Now Sam has become a somewhat stuffy small-town lawyer, secure in the bourne of his family: wife Carole, 14-year-old daughter Nancy, younger sons Jamie and Bucky. What could upset this steady if rather boring existence?

After having served 13 years of his sentence, Max Cady has been released
...more
Jonathan
Clearly this is a story that precedes novels and movies of recent decades. It is written almost like a Hitchcock story, with all of the suspense and build-up, but wherein the main antagonist is barely ever seen. It is and was an important book that must have influenced much of what we see today, but I found the pacing and the end result only somewhat satisfying. It is a great building block for writers to see a "how to" of suspense from a different era.
Debra
Mar 24, 2011 Debra marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Stephen King says" Top 10 villains in books:

10. Max Cady Don't recognize the name? Would it help if I said Cape Fear? Cady is the crazed-for-revenge psychopath who stalks the Bowden family in John D. MacDonald's The Executioners (1957). Played on the silver screen by Robert Mitchum in 1962 and Robert De Niro in 1991, but never more scary than in MacDonald's tightly wrapped novel."
Kat
Made into a film in 1962 with Gregory Peck, and a remake almost three decades later in 1991 with Robert De Niro, Cape Fear tells the story of Sam Bowden, the man who put convicted rapist, Max Cody, behind bars. After fourteen years have passed, and Cody has nursed his hatred for Bowden whilst in jail, he is set on planning his revenge—insane, passionate revenge.

Upon reading the summary, and thinking this would be a promising thriller, in both book and film adaptions, I couldn't have purchased th
...more
Donald
This is a heck of a read! Max Cady is a true psychopathic character and his presence brings terrific tension to this story! And this book gave me one of my favorite movies - "Cape Fear" - the one with DeNiro! It was cool to read this!
Rebecca McNutt
Incredibly disturbing, but nonetheless well-written and vivid, certainly worth reading.
Brandi
If this book had been written nowadays, I would probably give it four stars, but the genre was just starting to gain popularity when Mr. MacDonald wrote this novel, so for its time, I imagine it was quite suspenseful. I have never seen either movie, but this book did make me want to see the earlier adaptation. The newer one, from what I have read in the reviews, seems to have detoured so far off the original plot that it doesn't really seem to be the same story. I do want to see the first movie, ...more
Bill Ward
This is one of those rare occasions when I think the film is better than the book, not that this is a bad book! I love this author but prefer his Travis McGee series. Still worth a read.
Simon
It may be short but it packs in a whole lot of story across its pages; if a certain (in)famous horror writer had penned this, it would most likely be at least 5 times more bloated!
It is of a time and could probably be pigeonholed as 'pulp fiction' but the prose is full of little nuggets of writing gold and the pacing is spot on. Suspense is maintained by the less is more approach in a very Hitchcock like manner with the only slight let down being the way the story was finished (hence the dropped
...more
Katy Noyes
Dated but still tense and exciting thriller.

The 50s setting is apparent all the way through ("golly!", separate beds, lots of smoking), but I did quite like the period feel. Having seen both filmed versions, I grabbed the book when this new edition came into the library. I've never read the author before, and fancied a look at the source material for the films.

Sam Bowden learns that the man he helped put in prison 14 years earlier (an army man he witnessed raping a teenage girl), is being releas
...more
Nancy Reynolds
I watched this movie back when Robert Mitchum portrayed Max Cady. I didn't remember much of the story but I seem to remember it being much more suspenseful than the book. The climax was disappointing and way too brief. It seemed a let down after such extensive descriptions of the characters and places. It was set up for the entire book and 'Wham!' it was over in a couple of pages.
Josh
I'm a fan of the Scorsesse film, so I went into reading the book with reasonably high expectations. I found the book to be interesting enough to finish, being only 197 pages long, any longer I probably would have got bored.
The story is based on a tense game of hide and seek, cat and mouse, yet I personally didn't find it to be that tense. The chapters felt long and drawn out, and for me this killed much of the tension. There are pieces throughout that reignite that, and that's what worked for me
...more
Carlos Castenada
Its a classic, one of the best MacDonald ever wrote.
Jason Henderson
Front to back an expert work of ever-tightening suspense. I love how this book wastes no time; it is as lean and efficient as the bald, muscular and vicious Max Cady, the monster at the book's center. MacDonald uses the story of a lawyer trying to protect his family from an angry stalker to paint a cynical and strangely hopeful story about society and class. Worth reading.
Steven
Easy to see why this novel was movie material because it has the classic story structure as Sam Bowden makes the journey through hell and back. My only real complaint with the novel version is that MacDonald at times spends too many pages on character back story that enriches the characterization, surely, but does not move the story forward. The other major difference from the movie version that was really surprising as I reread the novel is how few times Max Cady appears in scenes in the book. ...more
Lauren Elias

This was one of those impulse buys that I picked up on sale after watching every film adaptation there is.



An interesting read even if you've seen both films! Many of the characters have been left out and/or changed in their adaptations.


Whilst the 90's movie is skin-crawling in comparison, this book still had me gripped enough to finish it in just two sittings (it would have been one if I had not had to work the day I first picked it up).
Whilst some of the ideas are old-fashioned due to the time

...more
Valenchia Hershberger
Being the only person in the free world who hasn't seen the movie, I didn't know what to expect from this book. But that's a good thing, right?

I thoroughly love sitting on the edge of my seat, and this story does that exquisitely for you. Sam Bowden is a successful lawyer with a beautiful wife, three children, a dog that's good for nothing other than being a dog (but they all love her, anyway), and a life he rather enjoys. What could possibly go wrong?

The only problem is, fourteen years ago he p
...more
Don Roff
Tense novel of white-knuckle suspense by John D. MacDonald. Additional, auditory effects by Bernard Herrmann's fabulous CAPE FEAR score, listening while reading.
Greg
Not a bad book but maybe there could have been a twist towards the end of the story to make it more interesting. The movies seemed to be more exciting.
Ben
It is rare that I say the movie is better than the book. This is one of those rarities. I guess Robert De Niro is a tour de force.
Andrew
Earlier called The Executioners. Now updated probably because of the movies. An effective scary book, though probably a bit too slow in building up. Did give me a nightmare- that's a high credit. I thought the ending was unsatisfying... a random shot in the dark fells the bad guy. I remember in the movie the girl is half seduced by the bad guy.. not so in the book making it a little less interesting. but the movie has him as some sort of quiet rebel genius - which is also much less real/effectiv ...more
Pamela
No one does suspense like MacDonald does suspense. He. Is. The. Master.
Tim
I'm running out of superlatives for John D. MacDonald, though this particular pulp classic is not of the first rank; it's a classic because of the two movies based on it (this excellent paperback edition is an early movie tie-in--no photos, sadly, but the stars' names on the cover and a reference to "Now a great motion picture." It's an absolutely chilling portrait of the criminal mind--make that the criminally vengeful mind--and an object lesson that we will all stoop to acts we would never con ...more
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John D. MacDonald was born in Sharon, Pa, and educated at the Universities of Pennsylvania, Syracuse and Harvard, where he took an MBA in 1939. During WW2, he rose to the rank of Colonel, and while serving in the Army and in the Far East, sent a short story to his wife for sale, successfully. After the war, he decided to try writing for a year, to see if he could make a living. Over 500 short stor ...more
More about John D. MacDonald...
The Deep Blue Good-By (Travis McGee #1) A Deadly Shade of Gold (Travis McGee #5) Nightmare in Pink (Travis McGee, #2) Free Fall in Crimson (Travis McGee #19) A Purple Place for Dying (Travis McGee #3)

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