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Death Wish (Paul Benjamin #1)

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  145 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Here is the action-packed novel that made Charles Bronson a star and the title Death Wish a brand name in explosive suspense. Here is award-winning author Brian Garfield's edge-of-the-seat story of an ordinary man driven over the brink to violence.
Mass Market Paperback, 0 pages
Published August 12th 1976 by Fawcett (first published 1972)
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Jens
After Paul Benjamin's wife has been killed by random muggers, he gets a gun and prowls the streets to kill people who assault him. Made into a movie starring Charles Bronson.

Both the novel and the movie are on the index of banned books. It's interesting how the official description reads: The main character takes revenge by provoking young people to attack him, so that he has an excuse to kill them.

It's been ages since I have read the novel, but in the movie, Charles Bronson provokes the young p...more
Sam
If I say the title Death Wish to you, I can guarantee the first thing that pops into your head is Charles Bronson. The man was a legend, an icon, and he starred in five movies bearing the Death Wish moniker over the course of about twenty years. So Death Wish means Bronson and Bronson means movies and that's it. Right?

It turns out there's a book called Death Wish out there, but you'd be forgiven for not knowing that. Except for a brief credit in each of the Death Wish films, author Brian Garfiel...more
Izzy
I finished reading the book a couple of weeks back. It was a very interesting read. I enjoyed every minute and every page. I noticed the differences between the movie and the book. For one thing, you don't see the attack on Paul's family. Instead it is described afterwards. I felt there was more emotion invested. While watching Charles Bronson you see an action hero, but when you read about Paul Benjamin you read about an average ordinary person. While reading this book, you read about a man who...more
Peter Landau
It's hard to enjoy anything that doesn't have Charles Bronson in it, but this manages that difficult task and more. The movie adaptation is true to the theme of the novel if not strictly adhering to its plot. Point of view shifts in the film: the brutal attack on the protagonist's wife and daughter is explicitly depicted, while in the book we learn about it when the main character does. This, I found, more disturbing, especially as our liberal lead loses his moral bearings and begins to strike b...more
Adam
Honestly? The movie was better. Brian Garfield may have created an icon when he created Paul Benjamin (renamed Paul Kersey for the film series with Charles Bronson), but as a novel, Death Wish is only mildly satisfying.

The plot is well paced, but the prose is fairly hackneyed, and the picture Garfield paints of New York in the early '70s just never seemed authentic.

I didn't hate this book; it just wasn't as good as I was hoping it would be. I suppose that if you're in the mood for some crypto-fa...more
Chuck
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nigel
The book that inspired the film, this is a slim, thoughtful meditation on grief and loss and anger that leads to violence as the only rational response to a dangerous world. Whether it's a moral response is left ambiguous. This isn't sleazy or exploitative or even sanctimonious. Mostly it's just sad story about a man transformed into his opposite by a horrible loss.
Red Heaven
To be honest, I could take or leave this one. The writing isn't bad but neither is it particularly sharp. The prose is fairly passive, and although it's good that Paul Benjamin's transformation into a killer isn't rushed, the middle section really slows down with not much happening. It could be argued it takes too long for him to start killing. And then once that part of the plot has been established, the book just ends. I think we're missing an entire act, some authentic resolution to the plot...more
Christian
Don't judge the 1972 novel Death Wish by its movie adaptation. Brian Garfield's approach to the subject of vigilante justice is much more complex.

Paul Benjamin is an average middle-aged accountant living an average middle-class life. One day while he's at work, his wife and daughter are attacked by a trio of teenage dope fiends. Paul's wife dies from her injuries, while his daughter sinks into a catatonic trance with little hope of recovery. Suddenly alone, Paul's emotions swing back and forth b...more
RØB
Jan 16, 2014 RØB rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to RØB by: Bill Macabe
I'm pretty sure I got the copy of this book I have from the estate of Bill Macabe, my step-grandfather who passed away in 2005. I know years earlier, when he married my grandmother and they moved in together, is when I got books like THE LAST HARD MEN (also by Garfield) and Tolkien's LORD OF THE RINGS books (although somehow I lost my copy of THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, but it has since been replaced by a mismatch copy, ahh well it's what's inside that counts, right?) that he was just trying to...more
Fredrick Danysh
Accountant Paul Benjamin is not home when a home invasion occurs that leaves his wife dead and his daughter comatose. Paul then seeks to get revenge when the police are unable to catch the perpetrators. This novel serve as a basis for four movies staring Charles Bronson.
Charles
It was OK. I expected more from a book that spawned a series of movies. The writing was pedestrian at best. Occasionally the author would have a nice turn of phrase but they were pretty rare. The dialogue didn't sound natural at all. I won't give away the ending but in some ways there wasn't an ending. The prose just stopped.

It was a short book and a quick read. If you've seen the movie, the book stays fairly close to it except that the opening attack is muted in the book compared to the movie,...more
Ricardo Lopes Moura
Death Wish is the book that launched the Charles Bronson saga in the movies. There are a few changes between them, but the bottom line is the same: after his wife and daughter have been killed by random burglairs, one abiding law citizen decides to go out at night and shoot criminals that bothered him.
The public oppinion takes his side (not knowing who the vigilante is) but the police is set to catch him.

It's a nice little book, but not more than a series B thriller paperback. Reads well, but i...more
James
This was a much better book than I expected it to be, given the movie. The protagonist's vigilantism isn't glamorized. He isn't portrayed as a hero. He's instead shown to be a deeply conflicted, traumatized man who can't cope with a personal tragedy. I wouldn't recommend the book for someone looking for a lot of action - most of the book focuses on the main character's psychological reactions, and it does that pretty well.
Dave
It was ok at best. I remember the movie and thought that the book would have been just as good. Nope, not at all. Pedestrian, not a believable character (or particularly likable), some wee twists in the plot which didn't go anywhere, limp ending. The only reason that I gave it a 2* was that I actually finished the book. The only reason that I finished the book is that it was only a short read
Nate Hendrix
I read the sequal first, Death Sentence, it was good. This was not. Did not read all of not interested gave up. yes the movie was based on the book.
Vasil Kolev
Short, good, and to the point. Seems too one-sided, but looks like one of the best books on the vigilante problem.
John Hardin
The book sort of plods along until about halfway, when Paul Benjamin finally bags his first thug.
Kyle Mclaughlin
Very suspensful story about how far a man will go to protect his family.
Adam
Read this and then watch the 1970s film adaptation. You'll dig it.
Jeremiah Cook
Excellent. Read April 2011. Reread January 2013.
Jim
a brilliant novel the story is great
Ian Ayris
Review to follow . . .
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Brian Francis Wynne Garfield is an American novelist and screenwriter. He wrote his first published book at the age of eighteen and wrote several novels under such pen names as "Frank Wynne" and "'Brian Wynne" before gaining prominence when his book Hopscotch (1975) won the 1976 Edgar Award for Best Novel. He is best known for his 1972 novel Death Wish, which was adapted for the 1974 film of the s...more
More about Brian Garfield...
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