Part parody, part snide little digs at the plethora of action filled thrillers that line the shelves of local bookstores, Kellerm...more
The reader has an inkling of what’s in store from the cover of Jesse Kellerman’s new book, which appears to show a typewriter keyboard of sorts, the various keys or buttons displaying words such as “assassinate,” “coup d’etat,” and “war.”
The first page of the book is filled with what appear to be blurbs by no less eminent writers than Stephen King, Lee Child, Robert Crais and various highly respected reviewers, which on closer inspection are very funny and relate to books written by one William...more
Take a well-worn genre, the thriller. Add plot and counter-plot, masked identities and (of course) a shadowy government organization.
Now, shake it up, add another well-known trope, the middle-aged nebbish, a failed writer (in this case Arthur Pfefferkorn) who longs for the fame and fortune (and wife) of a “hack” writer. Did we mention that the “hack” used to be Pfefferkorn’s best friend?
All this comes barreling down on Pfefferkorn when his friend, William de Vallèe, disap...more
The author of this mystery/thriller is Jesse Kellerman, son of the the famous husband-and wife bestselling writers of series mysteries, Faye and Jonathan Kellerman. But son Jesse writes standalone novels...and in POTBOILER introduces a trio of characters:
...Arthur Pfefferkorn, an obscure adjunct professor of creative writing at a small obscure college;
...his longtime friend William de Valle, nee Bill Kowalczyk, writer of multiple thriller novels;
I especially enjoyed the first part of the novel, in which a commercially unsuccessful literary writer, Arthur Pfefferkorn, discovers an unfinished manuscript left by an old friend of his who's gone missing, William de Vallée, who's a wildly successful author of bestselling thrille...more
Hard to review a thriller/mystery without giving away spoilers, so...more
What affects one replenishes or diminishes the other.
But Art has always known his place as a writer: he is the TRUE writer. So imagine his surprise to find that Bill is the one producing one bestseller after another, while Art's one literary novel languishes on very few shelves and his efforts to produce even one more fall far short.
So when Bill is report...more
This novel, 'Potboiler,' is a strange twist on a post-Cold War spy novel, combining the intrigue of conspiracy theory and fancy techno-gadgets with the annoying literary babble of academia. With character names I can't spell, let alone pronounce, a fictional communist country divided over the...more
I would give this book another half star if I could. It was a true "potboiler" and I hope that young Kellerman makes money from it. At least the title was honest. I only finished it because it is an Edgar Best Novel nominee and I really still don't know why. It's obvious that there are a lot of folks out there with a very different sense of humor and approach to their spy novels.
As others here have mentioned, the first third or so of the novel was standard and got me interested. But then it sl...more
And who would l...more
It is silly. Laugh-out-loud silly, and towards the end you ca...more
The plot is deceptively simple and does the meta-physical leap of imagination that Paul Auster is well known for, and to a lesser extent, Ian McEwan. One cannot help but think of Kiss of the Spiderwoman or even the movie, Moon over Parador for similar sense of imagination/farce cross polli...more
The balance it strikes (successfully, for this reader) is between parodying stock-thriller language an conventions in a humorous way, while still actually being an engaging adventure story. There is a loose freedom to the plot that is really fun to participate in. It is also warm and human in many parts, in a way that sort of exceeds the expectations a reader might have for a "comedy-thriller".
It's a quick read, more thought-provoking and affecting than you might expect...more
It is the story of Arthur Pfefferkorn a middle-aged college professor. When his oldest friend, bestselling thriller writer is lost at sea, he is torn between envy and grief. Part of the envy is his being in love with his friends widow forever. An interesting story of intrique follows this event. I'm glad I read it and will probably try anoth...more
'Tom Robinsonish' in tone. It took such a direct turn that it caused me not to appreciate the remainder as much as I had the beginning. I will definitely seek out another of his books though, because the dry...more
In Potboiler, the initial premise was clever: Pfefferkorn steals an unpublished manuscript from his recently deceased writer friend and publishes it under his name, the book...more
Arthur Pfefferkorn has always lived in the shadows of his best friend William de Vallèe. Pfefferkorn may have gotten his book published first, but Vallee upped him a little when he became one of the world’s best selling thriller authors. Now Pfefferkorn is a professor, watching his best friend’s books hit the shelves.
When Vallee goes missing at sea, Pfefferkorn puts away his jealousy toward his friend in his back pocket and attends his funeral, not knowing his life is about to change….drastical...more
There seems to be no hope for the thriller genre. And then Jesse Kellerman writes a pseudo-thriller that is thought-provoking, satirical,...more
Potboiler was not anything like what I was expecting. It's a satirical novel, mocking popular fiction and I'm not enti...more
I adored the first half of the book and almost missed my stop on the subway a few times because I was so engrossed. The second half didn't capture my interest as much and I found it a bit muddled.
Definitely recommended for those who find spy novels formulaic!
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