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Cutter and Bone

4.02  ·  Rating Details  ·  322 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
A thriller, and a whacking good thriller, too—shows how much can be done by a writer who knows his business—the best novel of its kind in ten years!—New York Times

First published in 1976, Cutter and Bone is the story of the obsession of Cutter, a scarred and crippled Vietnam veteran and his attempt to convince his buddy, Bone, that the latter witnessed a murder committed b
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Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 1st 2001 by Serpent's Tail (first published 1976)
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Noirs
85th out of 108 books — 16 voters
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Best Hardboiled PI & Noir
385th out of 522 books — 622 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,441)
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Bill  Kerwin
Dec 22, 2015 Bill Kerwin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This crime novel begins in Santa Barbara, in the mid '70's, but this is not the country of Ross Macdonald. Instead, it is the land of Macdonald's lost children, the ones detective Lew Archer pitied and helped but could never quite seem to understand. Those damaged young people have “grown up” now, full of self-destructive impulses and desperate visions: Richard Bone, the feckless gigolo, in flight from the American Dream Achieved (an ad executive position, a wife, two kids); his cynical friend A
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Paul Bryant
Fate is a heck of a thing, like an answerless question. It all happened because it couldn't possibly not have happened, the proof of which is : it happened. Thriller writers are in love with fate. Things are meant to turn out in a particular way, their books seem to whisper, in order to demonstrate either moral principles (if written from the point of view of the Party of God) or to demonstrate that life is just messy like that, with wires hanging out, and no neat ends anywhere to be had not for ...more
Maureen
i am stingy with my stars, i admit it. but i read this book twice in a row on first reading, and that means one of two things: i'm not sure how i feel, and i need another go, or i love the book so unabashedly that there is nothing for it but to read it again right away. in this case, cutter and bone kicked my ass, and i'm still sort of reeling.

i read this book a year ago, in june 2010. it's not in my possession anymore, and i gave back my borrowed copy reluctantly. i need to buy it and read it
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Krok Zero
Dec 16, 2010 Krok Zero rated it it was amazing
Shelves: winter-10-to-11
I finished this two weeks ago and I can't get it out of my head. The blunt-force terror of the abrupt ending haunts me, the characters and their miseries and their desperation and their awful milieu imprinted on my brain. Newton Thornburg's Cutter and Bone is a bleak masterpiece and I can't recommend it more highly to those of you who are predisposed to love bleak masterpieces. Anyone who doesn't love heroic bleakness, just fuck off.

The cineastes among my GR circle may have seen the 1981 film Cu
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Richard Vialet
Edit: Just found out that ALL of Newton Thornburg's work was finally released as inexpensive ebooks this year! Check em out on Kindle here for $3 each! He was an important writer and should be rediscovered. Can't wait to jump into more of his work as well.

There is a mystery at the center of this novel. But Cutter and Bone is less of a whodunit and more of a melancholy look at post-Vietnam disillusionment and weariness. The story follows two best friends who couldn't be any more different: Richar
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Paul
Jan 10, 2013 Paul rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-novels
A rather good thriller come buddy novel come "road movie" come description of a descent into despair. Difficult to rate because in patches it was brilliant and in patches very much not; with a strong streak of nihilism running through the middle.
The novel centres on two friends and is set in the mid 1970s.Alex Cutter is a Vietnam veteran who is emotionally and physically scarred; missing part of two limbs and one eye; he is the driving force in the book sometimes malevolent, sometimes tender an
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Steve mitchell

Ok since this is a mystery I will be careful, but this a great book, I can't believe I had never heard of it or the author Newton Thornburg.

Cutter and Bone is fantastic, it has everything a superb novel should be; great writing, great characters, great story, it has surprises, heart and empathy, it is believable and very entertaining. I will tell everyone to read this for quite awhile.

Alex Cutter is a cutup, I love this character!

When he crashes his car into a car that is blocking his driveway,
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Johnny
Nov 02, 2009 Johnny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A powerful book that needs to be rediscovered. The depth and originality of the characters is truly remarkable.

While often categorized as a crime novel (which it is), that is a far too simplistic classification for the book. Crime drives the story in a number of different ways, but that is true with plenty of "literature" that isn't grouped in the slums of genre work.

The moral questions and gray areas of life that give the crime novel its greatest thematic potential (and so often fall short in e
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Jordan West
Jul 05, 2015 Jordan West rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library, read-in-2015
4.5; a masterpiece of despair, disillusionment, and mounting dread. It feels ironically appropriate that I finished it on the 4th of July.
Gary
Jan 21, 2009 Gary rated it it was amazing
Possibly my favourite noir novel. This one manages to grab onto a weird brand of post-vietnam American malaise, which brings an extra dimension to the unfolding crime drama.
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
This story is very tragic, but not in a boohoo sort of way. Alex Cutter is a Vietnam vet who is badly damaged both physically and psychologically by his war and post-war experiences. Richard Bone is a former corporate exec who reached his "psychological menopause" ten years earlier than most businessmen do. He dropped out of that life and moved to Santa Barbara and became friends with Cutter. The story takes place around 1975, and shows a lot about the culture of Southern Cal and the nation in g ...more
Jürgen Zeller
Aug 24, 2015 Jürgen Zeller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ich habe das Gefühl, dass zur Zeit viele in Vergessenheit geratene Schriftsteller eine Renaissance erleben und es werden Bücher neu ins Verlagsprogramm aufgenommen, die vor 10, 20 oder 30 Jahren aktuell waren. Beim stöbern bin ich auf dieses Buch mit dem reisserischen Cover gestossen und siehe da, ich fand eine Geschichte die dem Roman-Noir oder da die Handlung in Amerika spielt, verwende ich besser den englischen Ausdruck Hardboiled-Literatur zugeordnet werden kann. Das Original erschien im Jah ...more
Chris Gager
Jan 04, 2016 Chris Gager rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another companion read to "Macbeth" as I skimmed quickly through "The 5th Wave"(a dog). Saw the movie "Cutter's Way" long ago and liked it.

Almost finished last night with this VERY depressing book. So far I'd say I like the movie better. It's not as if this is a bad book at all, but such a downer! More later...

In summation... I guess I don't have a lot to say about the book. Both of our "heroes" seem to be depressed and occasionally suicidal. The character of Cutter is kind of one-dimensional; a
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Jay
May 17, 2014 Jay rated it it was amazing
I originally bought this book because every review I read of it talked about how good it was and called it something like a lost classic. When it was first published it got rave reviews and continues to have more popularity in the UK than in the US. When Newton Thornburg died very little mention was made of it in the US but several large obits ran in the UK. With that background, I started to read.

The two primary characters have few admirable qualities, morally or ethically, and the story is mos
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Nan
Jun 15, 2015 Nan rated it it was amazing
A genuinely extraordinary novel that smashes the neo-noir genre barriers to bits. I have long been a fan of the movie, but I can see why the author was not one; despite superb casting and performances by Jeff Bridges, John Heard, and Lisa Eichhorn, the punch and power of this novel was diminished by the need or desire to wrap things up too early.

There's a great louche quality to this one, and the ending is one of the best endings I've ever read. Do not under any circumstances peek. Truly a wond
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Ffiamma
Mar 10, 2014 Ffiamma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana, ebook
la bislacca amicizia tra due disperati, alexander cutter- reduce del vietnam e mutilato- e richard bone- ex manager di successo, fuggito da una vita opprimente che si mantiene facendo il gigolò è la vera protagonista di questo romanzo in cui la storia (un omicidio forse commesso da un tycoon di provincia in trasferta in california) è il pretesto per raccontare la solitudine, l'emarginazione e la miseria morale che sono il contrario del sogno americano. nei suoi personaggi (ognuno a modo suo grot ...more
Deanne
Jun 25, 2008 Deanne rated it really liked it
Cracking thriller with some surprising twists and turns. When Bone witnesses a body dump late one night he tells Cutter, a Vietnam vet crippled during the war. Bone doesn't see the face only a silhouette, but later when he thinks he recognises the person in a paper Cutter comes up with a plan.
The result is a book at times funny, at times sad but a great read.
Noisms
Feb 02, 2016 Noisms rated it it was amazing
I am reticent to describe a book as perfect - and Cutter and Bone isn't - but it comes pretty close. It is first and foremost a cracking mystery novel, which keeps you guessing all the way through not just as to what the answer to the mystery is, but whether there is even a mystery at all. Yet like all great genre fiction, it says something very profound as well as simply entertaining the reader. I came away from it with a deeper understanding of the nature of friendship, the nature of modernity ...more
Michael
Feb 09, 2015 Michael rated it it was amazing
All-time great final paragraph.
Joe  Noir
Superlatives fail me. Startlingly original, with awe inspiring characterization. Cutter is a severely wounded Vietnam veteran (he lost one eye, one arm, and one leg), and may or may not be insane. He tries to convince his friend Bone that the strange scene Bone witnessed was actually a murder. Bone is skeptical, but ultimately needs little convincing. The suspect is a corporate fat cat who is rich enough not to be bothered by Cutter and Bone. As Bone falls deeper into Cutter's plan to expose the ...more
Desiree Zamorano
Aug 12, 2014 Desiree Zamorano rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
I was on the fence for awhile, because the writing was excellent, the depiction of a 70s Santa Barbara not so very different from the contemporary--but ultimately this was an unpleasant experience, and I think that was very much part of the author's intent. So, rough going, excellent writing.

I marveled that they turned this into a movie, due to both the content and the interiority of Bone.
Patrick James
May 14, 2013 Patrick James rated it it was amazing
This should be mandatory reading for those who say they don't like crime/mystery novels. This should also be mandatory reading for those who say they do. No one does it better. Like George P. Pelecanos, much of his books are almost identical in structure and style. Unlike Pelecanos, each of his characters is a fully realized individual that you meet as you read. There is extreme attention to things an author must consider when writing through a character---"Would my character say this? Would my ...more
Scott
Aug 18, 2015 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting look at America in the post-Vietnam, empty 1970's. I think I read somewhere that it reads like a big hangover - the party of the 60's is over, the country has lost its innocence and someone's got to pay. The book concerns two friends apparently bent on self-destruction; Cutter is back from Vietnam minus a couple of limbs and on the verge of insanity, and Bone has dropped out of corporate America, left his wife and child and is floating around California as a gigolo. The story begi ...more
Frank
Very powerful novel of the post-Vietnam 70s. The story is basically about two dropouts from society - Cutter, a scarred and maimed Vietnam vet and Bone who abandoned his family to drift around California as a gigolo. A very unlikely pair who get involved in a potential blackmail plot of an Arkansas industrialist who may have killed and dumped a young girl in the trash as possibly witnessed by Bone. The novel is full of unforgettable characters and dialog and takes you along a twisted path to a v ...more
Jack
Jun 17, 2012 Jack rated it it was amazing
Great book!

This is a downbeat mystery-thriller-whodunit with a lot of very cool anti-Establishment and counterculture touches. Sort of a combination of Ross MacDonald, Elmore Leonard, and "Easy Rider", if you ask me.

There's a movie version of this book, released in 1981 with the title "Cutter's Way". The film follows the basic plot of the book but I would recommend watching it first, for two reasons: First, the movie won't "spoil" the book because the villain, the ending action, and the fates o
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Tony Quintiliani
May 16, 2015 Tony Quintiliani rated it really liked it
"Cutter's Way" has been one of favorite movies ever since I saw it while attending Boston College and writing a paper on it. I've always wanted to read the original book.

It was a lot more involved than the movie of course, but it did have the same flavor. Alex Cutter is one of the most unusual characters I've ever encountered and he is funny as hell. A little wacky but funny nonetheless.

I still think I like the movie better but would highly recommend this story to anyone who appreciates a good
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Mike Jensen
Jan 03, 2012 Mike Jensen marked it as books-abandoned  ·  review of another edition
I read the first 29 pages because this book was highly recommended, but I was wary because I know the book has a cult following. It reminds me a LOT of Elmore Leonard, with a similar plain style and it is about losers. I find the style too familiar and unengaging, I don't like any of the people, and the scene in which Cutter enters and induces vomiting was the final straw so I put it down. I can see the potential for a brilliant story if a brilliant story can be told in a plain style, but I find ...more
Donna
Jul 05, 2015 Donna rated it really liked it
Dated & choppy, but still a great ride.
Adrasto
Apr 05, 2012 Adrasto rated it really liked it
"Cutter and Bone" (in italiano "la strana vita di Cutter e Bone"), non è un giallo, né tanto meno un thriller. E' un libro sulla depressione, la paranoia, la fuga dalle responsabilità, gli effetti della guerra e quelli dell'amore. E' un libro emozionante, comico, ma allo stesso tempo tragico e grottesco. Consigliato? Non so, dipende dal lettore. Non vi è molta azione, anzi, quasi niente. I protagonisti non sono affatto personaggi positivi: sono spesso vigliacchi, meschini, estremamente egoisti. ...more
Rachel Stevenson
Imagine Philip Marlowe, 30 years on, a part-time gigolo rather than a PI, still mildly misogynistic and rather racist, still hanging with the low lives and partying with the right set in SoCal, almost accidentally solving a mystery along the way whilst taking beatings and falling for the right women and sleeping with the wrong ones. Still cynical and disgusted by modern life but set against the aftermath of Vietnam and the '70s oil criss rather than the aftermath of the depression and the war,
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Born in Harvey, Illinois, Thornburg graduated from the University of Iowa with a Fine Arts degree. He worked in a variety of jobs before devoting himself to writing full-time (or at least in tandem with his cattle farm in the Ozarks) in 1973.
His 1976 novel Cutter and Bone was filmed in 1981 as Cutter's Way. The New York Times called Cutter and Bone "the best novel of its kind for ten years." Anoth
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