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The Crook Factory

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  1,036 Ratings  ·  91 Reviews
"Wonderful...brilliantly realized...a gripping narrative."
- Iain Pears, "New York Times" bestselling author of "An Instance of the Fingerpost"

In 1942, at the height of World War II, the famous writer Ernest Hemingway sought permission from the U.S. government to operate a spy ring out of his house in the Cuban countryside. This much is true...

It is the summer of '42, and
Paperback, 580 pages
Published August 1st 2000 by HarperTorch (first published 1999)
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Four Days with Hemingway's Ghost by Tom WintonPapa and Fidel by Karl AlexanderThe Crook Factory by Dan SimmonsHemingway's Suitcase by MacDonald HarrisEverybody Behaves Badly by Lesley M.M. Blume
Obsessed with Hemingway
3rd out of 9 books — 5 voters
The Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Thief Lord by Cornelia FunkeThe Lightning Thief by Rick RiordanThe Robber Bride by Margaret AtwoodDouble Crossed by Ally Carter
To Catch A Thief
42nd out of 49 books — 8 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,206)
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Talk about a concept that sells itself: Ernest Hemingway battles Nazis spies in Cuba during World War II. Who wouldn’t pay money to see that fight?

In this historical fiction based on Hemingway’s activities in the Caribbean during the war, Joe Lucas is an FBI agent who has been busting up Nazi intelligence networks all over North America since Pearl Harbor, but he is given a special assignment by J. Edgar Hoover himself. Ernest Hemingway has talked the US ambassador to Cuba into getting him autho
John Boettcher
Dec 13, 2015 John Boettcher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another absolutely GREAT story by Dan Simmons!! I am never ever tired of reading his works and he doesn't disappoint again in this historical fiction tale about Ernest Hemingway and his stranger than life exploits as a spy for the U.S. down in Cuba during World War II.

Like many of Simmons's novels, there is at least as much fact as there is fiction in this brilliantly crafted tale of espionage, politics, drama, and intrigue down in the Caribbean during the first years of American involvement in
May 01, 2008 John rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Before now, I haven't written more than a handful of reviews, as every story one reads is fairly personal in nature. I won’t even try to summarize The Crook Factory here.
I will say that this novel contained a gritty, vibrant realism which grabbed me immediately --The author's interpretation of Hemingway's behaviors and actions, as well as those of his cohorts, were amazing, like I was seeing through a window to the past. These characters are rich and deceptive, adding intrigue to the story with
Sam Sattler
Think what you might about Ernest Hemingway’s writing, personality, attitude toward women, etc., there is no denying that the man lived life to the fullest. And, of course, he went out with a bang, further ensuring his legendary status in the world of American literature. But, as detailed in the Dan Simmons novel, The Crook Factory, there is much more to the Hemingway life story than most realize.

Lest readers be left wondering how much of the novel is based on fact, Simmons adds this clarifying
Jeff J.
Feb 12, 2014 Jeff J. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I believe Dan Simmons is a severely underrated writer. He jumps between genres with abandon, and always excels. In recent years he has focused on historical novels. In The Crook Factory he takes on Ernest Hemingway's counterespionage efforts in Cuba during World War II. In the afterword Simmons claims the story is 95% true, which is all the more amazing. He manages to work in many other celebrities in the narrative, including Ian Fleming, J. Edgar Hoover, Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper, and more. ...more
Vitor Frazão
Jan 22, 2012 Vitor Frazão rated it really liked it
Entretenimento puro! No início, o autor conseguia encadear os factos com a ficção, mas em certas partes sacrificava o ritmo da história para fornecer informações sobre o contexto histórico. Felizmente, à medida que nos mergulhou mais fundo nas paisagens românticas da Cuba dos anos quarenta e no mundo da espionagem durante a Segunda Guerra Mundial, Simmons abandonou essa tendência, não se deixando arrastar para a corriqueira obsessão de alguns escritores do género de “cuspir” tudo o que pesquisou ...more
Mar 01, 2013 Tony rated it liked it
THE CROOK FACTORY. (1997). Dan Simmons. ***.
In 1942, Ernest Hemingway put together a group of amateurs in Cuba and set up what he called ‘The Crook Factory.’ This was to be a spy organization whose purpose was to root out Nazi operatives who were using the island as a base for espionage. Joe Lucas, an employee of the FBI has been ordered by J. Edgar Hoover directly to go to Cuba and join up with Hemingway’s band of merry men to keep tabs on their activity. Lucas was to report directly to Hoover
Oct 20, 2015 Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sorta true story of Hemingway on Cuba spying during WWII. While I liked it, the author missed three excellent points at which to end the book, but instead stretched it out for no good reason.

Very good narrator.
Aug 13, 2011 Craig rated it it was ok
As much as I like Simmons' writing, this story didn't really do much for me. Unlike The Plot Against America, I didn't particularly feel as though I was suffering by not knowing much about the "real" story behind the story, or the people who appeared as characters - I simply wasn't captivated by the story itself. Possibly I have also begun to suffer from Nazi burnout, though.

Apparently a very great deal of this book is, if not taken from, at least extrapolated from actual history. That being the
zaCk S
Feb 26, 2013 zaCk S rated it it was ok
having only read now 4 of dan simmons' novels, i love him as a writer. i love his exact, careful style. but that style is more at home in victorian novels like Drood and Terror. but here, as in Flashback, the execution of the style falters in the face of a faster paced narrative. due to the delicate writing style, action scenes are robbed of any immediacy. couple the stylistic missteps with long passages of ver batim FBI notes and close attention to irrelevant detail, and the suspense which shou ...more
May 16, 2016 Joe rated it liked it
Since I read Dan Simmons' 2007 novel The Terror,Simmons has quickly become one of my favourite novelists. The Terror was one of the first in what I shall call "historical fiction" books, whereby he takes a real historical event and expands on that ficticiously. For instance The Terror extrapolated on what COULD have happened to the crew of The Terror and Erebus during their 1848 trip to the Northwest Passage. Later, Abominable explored what could have happened to Irvine and Mallory on their fate ...more
Sep 13, 2015 Sharon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2015
Ernest Hemingway, living in Cuba during WWII, has offered J.Edgar Hoover the use of his spy ring, the Crook Factory. Hoover doesn't really believe Hemingway will be useful but regardless, he sends FBI operative Joe Lucas to assist "Papa" and incidentally, report back. Papa's spies include a 12 year old orphan, a jai alai champion, a fisherman, a priest and a millionaire. Hoover thinks it's a bit eccentric but nonetheless, maybe it will prove useful to the US of A. Joe is contacted by his operati ...more
Jul 01, 2015 Paula rated it really liked it
While this is a novel, the author states it is 95% factual. The action, adventure story, which is the fictional part, wasn't my favorite aspect of the book. The historical backdrop based on actual events and characters was quite intriguing! Set in and off the coast of Cuba between May 1942 and April 1943, it is the story of Ernest Hemingway and his "crook factory" (actual name). It is also peopled by Nazis, corrupt Cuban officials, and Cuban citizen-compatriots of Hemingway's. The plot of The Cr ...more
Bill Keithler
Feb 09, 2014 Bill Keithler rated it it was amazing
This is a great book--author Dan Simmons created this novel which tells the story concerning the espionage activities of a group headed by author Ernest Hemingway named the Crook Factory (hence the title). Hemingway and his rag-tag group of friends, associates and volunteers form an informal band playing at surveillance and espionage during 1942 in Havana, Cuba. The group attracts the attention of a variety of government espionage agencies from the US, UK and Germany and becomes embroiled in rea ...more
Robert Clancy
Aug 27, 2014 Robert Clancy rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, adventure
Papa Hemingway, Cuba, WWII, Nazi agents, U-Boat submarine hunting, marlin fishing, shooting Thompsons, BAR's, shotguns, .357 Magnums, .38's, .22's, ex-patriate spies, OSS, FBI, Adwehr, SS, MI5, MI6, Ian Fleming, Wild Bill Donovan, J. Edgar ("the tiniest feet of any man I've ever known), Cuban prostitutes with hearts of gold, bartenders, drunken boxing matches, Marines, boxers, jai lai stars, Marlene Dietrich, Ingrid Bergman, Gary Cooper, Winston Guest, large yachts, sadistic Cuban police, secret ...more
Travis of NNY
Jul 13, 2014 Travis of NNY rated it really liked it
Enjoyable historical fiction novel based on Earnest Hemingway's Crook Factory during WW2 set up to find Nazi subs.
May 23, 2015 Merfey51 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another Simmons home run. He again weaves fact and fiction into a tapestry of spy vs. spy, as narrated by the fictional FBI agent who becomes Hemingway's constant companion and sometimes alter-ego. Simmons once again has energized Hemingway, the man, the myth, the legend, by injecting him with a serious dose of intrigue and patriotism. Simmons' style of blending real life and make believe makes for great reading, and repeats in the excellent novel "Abominable", and his versatility shines through ...more
May 21, 2016 Lesley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, espionage
The Crook Factory is about the semi-covert intelligence operations which Ernest Hemmingway coordinated in Cuba for the War effort in 1942. The events during this period are recounted by a fictional FBI agent who is assigned by J. Edgar Hoover to keep an eye on Hemmingway and make sure that any 'real' intelligence makes it back to Washington.
As always Dan Simmons employs a very tactile writing style which puts the reader in the center of the action. He does an excellent job of blurring the lines
Based on the real-life story of Ernest Hemingway's amateur spy ring in Cuba during the Second World War, *The Crook Factory* is Dan Simmons' fictionalized version of the events that took place in 1942-43 in and around Hemingway's Cuban villa.

]It is meticulously researched and a good story, but it fell flat for me in a couple of ways. First, there are a few too many winks at the reader, statements made by characters of the mid-20th century that any reader in the 21st century would know to be wron
May 30, 2015 AJ rated it really liked it
Simmons wrote this awesome series starting with Hyperion, one of my favs, and I thought a book on Hemingway would be rather interesting with Simmons's fantastical take on it.

I begin read this thing, and this is *too* fantastical.

Then I finish it, get to the authors note, and read that all the unbelievable fantastical actually true.

Yes, tales of Ian Fleming as an agent in Canada and the US - True.
J. Edgar Hoover not warning about Pearl Harbor due to agency infighting - True
Sep 14, 2013 Ken rated it really liked it
The book is a fact based fictional work concerning Ernest Hemingway's little-known Caribbean based spy operation in Cuba during the height of WWII. J. Edgar Hoover, tyrannical head of The Federal Bureau of Investigation, was deeply suspicious of Hemingway's supposed 'leftist leanings' and he enlisted FBI agent Joe Lucas to keep tabs on the spy ring. The novel is told from Joe's point-of-view, and initially he disliked and distrusted Hemingway, but the novel documents his change of heart towards ...more
Susan Melgren
Mar 18, 2013 Susan Melgren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Crook Factory" is the story of Ernest Hemingway's amateur spy ring (named The Crook Factory) during World War II in Cuba, told from the viewpoint of Joe Lucas, the state department agent sent by J. Edgar Hoover to keep tabs on the famous writer. The further The Crook Factory gets into their "spying," the more apparent it becomes that something mysterious is actually going on—and that it's not looking favorable for The Crook Factory.

The book starts off slow. It took me days to get through th
Matt Rohweder
I'm a huge Hemingway fan, have been since my my senior year in High School when I had to read one of his short stories for my Advanced English class - I immediately couldn't get enough. The summer after high school I binge read almost all of his novels. In university, I took every class that had him on the syllabus, including a single author class - which was like heaven.

I know a lot of people criticize his treatment of women, his vague and obtuse writing style, his hyper-masculine characteriza
Deon Stonehouse
Mar 06, 2013 Deon Stonehouse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
J. Edgar Hoover played a part in the destruction of one of America’s greatest writers. Ernest Hemingway underwent electroshock therapy that curtailed his ability to craft his stories in some part because his doctors, friends, and wife believed his conviction that the FBI had him under surveillance was paranoia. In a July 1, 2011 article Hemingway’s good friend A.E. Hotchner wrote of the FBI’s effect on Hemingway. Decades later, in response to a Freedom of Information petition, the F.B.I. release ...more
Feb 21, 2016 Karl rated it liked it
I am not a big fan of historical fiction but this one kept my interest. It certainly kept me wondering what was "real" and what was "fiction". There was a nice unexpected plot twist a about the 3/4 mark but the ending was kind of like the TV show Person of Interest - it couldn't happen in real life.

Book drags at times, would have been better 100 pages shorter.
Aug 08, 2014 Thompson rated it really liked it
WW2 espionage in Cuba starring Ernest Hemingway??? This book of historical fiction seemed sooo ridiculous that I was about to stop reading it. But fortunately I checked and found out that the vast majority of this novel was factually accurate!!! So then this book went from farfetched ridiculous to downright fascinating!
Jun 06, 2014 Kathy rated it liked it
I was interested in this book because I have been to Cuba. The author uses real people and has obviously researched these individuals (Hemmingway, J. Edgar Hoover, and other famous people); however everything blurs and you can't tell reality from fantasy. I didn't enjoy the book as much as I thought I would.
Bruce Crawford
Feb 17, 2014 Bruce Crawford rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. A delightful read. 95 % true. Hemingway. Cuba. WW II. Spy's. FBI and all the other 'Intelligence' Agencies. U-boats. While long, the journey is fast-paced. The characterizations full and complete. A great book for getting away immersed in another time, another riddle, its own education.
Jim Murray
Jan 11, 2015 Jim Murray rated it really liked it
Simmons is an amazing writer, and I particularly enjoy his historical fiction novels. Typically I know nothing of the subject he is writing about, in this case Ernest Hemingway in the 1940's, but I trust that he will make me care. He definitely succeeded in that with The Crook Factory. I would literally recommend this book to anyone just because of how good Simmons is at plot and pacing.
Darren Wacker
Sep 10, 2014 Darren Wacker rated it it was amazing
I honestly feel no one does historically related fiction better than Dan Simmons. Well researched, well crafted and just a great read. I highly recommend this book, plus Drood, Black Hills, The Terror and others.
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Dan Simmons grew up in various cities and small towns in the Midwest, including Brimfield, Illinois, which was the source of his fictional "Elm Haven" in 1991's SUMMER OF NIGHT and 2002's A WINTER HAUNTING. Dan received a B.A. in English from Wabash College in 1970, winning a national Phi Beta Kappa Award during his senior year for excellence in fiction, journalism and art.

Dan received his Master
More about Dan Simmons...

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“I hope that on the morning of my forty-ninth birthday, in Hemingway’s last moments, he might have been thinking, if his sorrow and depression allowed him such a luxury as coherent thought, not only of his final, decisive, twelve-gauge gesture of ultimate defiance but also of any victories he had won in his long-running war against invisible enemies.” 1 likes
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