Land of the Blind
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Land of the Blind (Caroline Mabry #2)

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  454 ratings  ·  67 reviews
While working the weekend night shift, Caroline Mabry, a weary Spokane police detective, encounters a seemingly unstable but charming derelict who tells her, "I'd like to confess." But he insists on writing out his statement in longhand. In the forty-eight hours that follow, the stranger confesses to not just a crime but an entire life—spinning a wry and haunting tale of y...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 18th 2009 by Harper Perennial (first published 2003)
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It’s a goal of mine to scare up votes for Jess Walter’s induction into the Pantheon of Great American Storytellers. Land of the Blind justifies his nomination. [Citizen Vince (see review) does even more so.] He’s never slow, he adds insights without overdoing it, his dialogue is bang on, and his plots keep Kindle screens refreshing incessantly. I like his style, too – kind of edgy, but with a genuine regard for his characters. If you were to shoehorn this one into a category, I guess it would be...more
Land of the Blind was not a fun read. Clark, the main character reveals in tortuous detail his adolescence . Walter's characters always seem to come from the seamy side of Spokane. He writes with so much pathos and detail, it can't all be imagined pain.
Clark begins this novel confessing to crimes, real and unnamed. He suffers as he unloads the pain of success , failure, loyalty, treason, love and detachment. His patch does not blind him. It only gives a lack of depth perception.
As I said, this w...more
Eric Hammel
I write books for a living. I edit books. I publish books. I =live= books. But I rarely find myself impressed by books.

I'm impressed enough with Jess Walter to read his books. Now I find myself impressed enough with Land of the Blind to get off my jaded butt to recommend it to anyone who was ever teased in school, or bullied, or humiliated, or moved by the fear of any of the above to act against his better nature.

This is a book written in pain; it is painful to read, painful to relive personal m...more
Rick (
Jun 21, 2012 Rick ( rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Fans of A Prayer For Owen Meany
In Land of the Blind, Jess Walter has written a dolorous thriller about a man who wants police detective Caroline Mabry to witness his confession to a crime that has yet to be reported. With legal paper in hand, Clark Mason proceeds to write a long story of a childhood friendship gone horribly wrong—a "story of weakness, not of strength"—one in which he alternately befriends and betrays oddball Eli Boyle.

Years later, Eli agrees to let Clark turn his recreational, hobby-like fantasy game, Empire...more
aPriL meows, scratches and growls
The book is tough going in the first half because of the subject is bullying. Eli is an extremely bullied kid who has everything wrong with him that can be wrong with someone and yet be fit enough for public school mainstreaming while still needing two special-ed classes as well - he smells, he wears ugly glasses, he's both physically and mentally handicapped, and he lives in a large town without much spirit. Clark, one of the narrators, is also bullied, but not as bad. They both catch a school...more
Scotty Cameron
Jess Walter does it again. I know this was written well before The Financial Lives of the Poets, but I read them out of order. But this, like Financial Lives, is a book that I must recommend.

This book tells the life story of Clark Anthony Mason, an aspiring politician, hack-job lawyer, people pleaser, and identity-challenged individual. Clark goes to the police, namely Caroline Mabry, wanting to confess. He doesn't know how to go about it. Finally, he decides on confessing to murder through a lo...more
Patrick McCoy
Land Of The Blind has some interesting aspects to it, but it is not as satisfying as Jess Walter's debut, Over Tumbled Graves or his subsequent novel, Citizen Vince. A lot of the premise was too on the nose-too obviously taken from the headlines: dot com bubble frauds, local political races. Other aspects were too over the top, Clark becoming a millionaire and the utter helplessness and afflictions of Eli. It has the makings of a compelling mystery, but the execution seemed somewhat marred by in...more
Not my favorite by Mr. Walter, but an excellent read none-the-less. This is a follow-up to his novel Over Tumbled Graves and as different from that one as night is to day. Basically they both share a main character; otherwise the tale and the way it's told are nothing alike.
Spokane is once again a focus. It reminds me sometimes of the area in which I grew up near Beaumont, Texas. Another mid-sized town in a 50 year recession, full of hopeless optimism and a never-ending supply of excuses for fai...more
I read this for fun in college several years ago (yay opl new books section)and still remember being utterly refreshed by the originality of the work. One of those I just happened to pick up on my own, which reminds me that I should do that more often! Still my favorite of his books, especially the last third of it where it all gets weird and the tension is so intricately built.
Jess Walter is a great storyteller but I really couldn't like any of the characters. Clark, the main character, just wasn't likeable. The book did get more interesting as it progressed and so I finished it to find out what really happened, but I'm left with a blah feeling at the end.
K. Conner
the beautifully constructed story of a man confessing to a wasted life, at times hilarious, at times wrenching.
I don't even know what to make of this book. It was sad and weird, and uncomfortable to read. On the other hand, it was a pretty amazing portrait of how a single man fell apart over a period of years, and (maybe?) his attempt to start putting himself back together. If one chooses to see it as a metaphor, the book is also about the fall (and movement to rise again?) of the "genuine" PNW, the tech boom, and the American economy. Quite a book, but not what I'd call an enjoyable read. It should prob...more
I think I'd read anything Jess Walter wrote. I'm even considering the true crime stuff, and that's not really my scene. This is an early work of Walter's, and though it's not quite up there with the amazing Citizen Vince, it certainly shows the promise that would be fulfilled in subsequent works.

One of the proofs for me that a writer is worth paying attention to is when they can tell you a story that you don't think you'll be interested in and suck you in anyway. I was drawn right in by the dete...more
Danielle McClellan
I just read this for a book group and was underwhelmed. One of my favorite books this summer was Walter's Beautiful Ruins, but this riff on the police procedural (less "who dunnit" and more "what exactly is it that he dun") did not quite grab me--or rather, it grabbed me but only in that mildly icky way that an intense television cop show grabs you and then leaves you deflated with no sense of a there there. It seemed predictably unpredictable, if that makes sense. I found the long first pages a...more
Steven Drachman
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kim Stephan
My bookclub just finished Jess Walter's short story collection, We Live in Water. My husband noticed I was reading that book and gave me Land of the Blind for Christmas. And - it was amazing!! Literary fiction, but with an underlying mystery/suspense element that surprised me at the end. I was moved by the beautiful writing and sense of place (Spokane, largely, Jess Walter's town, as well as some Seattle, where I used to live), and then on the edge of my seat.
I didn't like this one as much as the first Mabry book, but it has its' own merits. The 2 story-lines run parallel until they collide in the last part of the book, which powers the pace. Set in Spokane, again, it's a novel about growing up in a quickly changing atmosphere - during the time where Seattle was exploding as a tech center and Spokane was left behind as Seattle's conservative much younger sister.
The story concerns Clark, a guy found on the 12th floor of the deserted old Davenport hot...more
Susie Debar
If there were 10 stars, this book would receive it. Pure emotional, spiritual and psychological genius!!
It was finished entirely too quick.
Paul Wilner
This is by the author of "Beautiful Ruins,'' a more ambitious, "literary'' and better received book. I liked it very much - enjoyed the way he spun off the Taylor/Burton tale and made something new and worth reading out of it. But honestly, I liked this earlier piece better - maybe because of the bleak portraits of Spokane, and now close it seemed to the author's own use. Also because despite the nature of the story, there are sections that are very funny...the narrator, and Walter, actually see...more
Yair Bezalel
Wonderful. Jess Walter is one of the finest writers working today and this, his second novel of something like five, is something special. The story has remarkably fleshed out characters (even ones that only put in an appearance or two) and a dark story of the consistency and solidity of a persons identity from childhood through adulthood. Nothing in this story feels phoned in or artificial, the dialogue, the build up, the resolution and idea and possibility of redemption, all done meticulously...more
Ok, this was not my favorite book, but I must admit that I was fascinated with the plot. A police inspector gets emotionally involved with a suspect who has confessed to a murder. As he is sitting in a jail cell writing out the back story that leads up to the deed, she is sleuthing around to see what he could possibly have done. The reader has an inside track to the information that the detective slowly uncovers. It is clever even though I was getting a bit bored by the end of the fairly predict...more
This was not at all what I was expecting. I was thinking it was a basic crime/detective story. But, it is actually a life history of the central character (who is not Caroline Mabry) -- a coming of age story and much more. It depicts the brutality of childhood and, as is often the case with Walter, place is a crucial part of the story. A completely engrossing story set in my hometown! I think my only complaint would be that the framing device didn't always seem necessary and was often overwhelme...more
Della Johnson
This book is in the high school library where I work. It is an adult level book about an attorney who is picked up by the police because he said he killed someone. The attorney takes forever to write out his statement because he goes back to his childhood during his junior high and high school days. You can't help but like this guy. He is bullied and helps another student, who is really bullied.

Its a mystery and suspenseful. It was a well a well written book. There was some bad language, when t...more
Wow, could not put this book down! I grew up in a small town near Spokane, so I thoroughly enjoyed the setting. This was, however, a great story too.
I couldn't put this book down. Jess Walter's book stands between literary fiction and great mystery. His characters seem so real probably because they are people he knew from his own coming of age in working class Spokane. A town that wasn't yet spiffed up in the 80s and 90s but a town Walter knew and loved. Though it's a sad story in many ways with tolerance of bullying and meanness there is also a sweetness to it and a feeling the characters cared for each other.
Renee Limon
Needed much more Alan Dupree.
Susanna Parker
Walters gets so much right - the childhood overly influenced by bullies, the ennui of Gen Xers who didn't know what to do with their lives, the excitement of the tech bubble and the consequences after it burst... part of me wonders whether she set out to write a murder mystery of a highly specific history of America.

Great book, could not put it down.
Just started it and it grabbed me right away. I love that I am finally getting around to this Advanced Reader....that was published in 2003.....


I haven't been this enthusiastic about a mystery since 'Tell No One' by Harlan Coben---and everyone who knows me knows my affection for that book. The story was cleverly laid out and revealed. I love the style and I can't wait to get my hands on Walter's other books!!!

Colleen's pick for FBB. The description at the beginning of this book about the bullying of Eli was so depressing, I could only read it in small doses. I wound up liking this book, but I thought it was kind of long. I didn't see the twist coming at the end -- was surprised Eli let Dana live. I guess the detective and Clark got together at the was left up to the reader to decide, I guess. (I don't like endings like that.)
It's a bit like reading someone's journal. Lots of narrative but the narrative IS what develops the plot. Familiar characters, AND one of my former employer's (KeyTronics) was included. On top of that, the infamous Seattle Triangle Tavern! Jeeze, last time I was in the old Triangle Tav was getting juiced up for a Seattle Seahawks game. All said, Walter is a genius writer and includes all the memorable flavors of my past.
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Jess Walter is the author of five novels and one nonfiction book. His work has been translated into more than 20 languages and his essays, short fiction, criticism and journalism have been widely published, in Details, Playboy, Newsweek, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe among many others.

His books:
Beautiful Ruins, 2012.
The Financial Lives of the Poets, 2009.
The Zero, a...more
More about Jess Walter...
Beautiful Ruins The Financial Lives of the Poets We Live in Water Citizen Vince The Zero

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