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Chance

3.34 of 5 stars 3.34  ·  rating details  ·  348 ratings  ·  70 reviews
In an intense tale of psychological suspense, a San Francisco psychiatrist becomes sexually involved with a female patient who suffers from multiple personality disorder, and whose pathological ex-husband is an Oakland homicide detective—from a Los Angeles Times Book Prize-winning author.Dr. Eldon Chance is a brilliant, lonely, forensic neuropsychologist with a long track ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 18th 2014 by Scribner (first published February 1st 2014)
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Robert
If the bar is a psychological thriller pace, then CHANCE didn’t measure up. It moved at a slow, leisurely pace instead of an all-out race. The vocabulary and sentence structure weighed in with a bit more heft than one might expect from your typical thriller, but I still felt shortchanged in the end. I had higher hopes for this tale, but I ended up facing the firing squad of disappointment with my head lowered and my hands held high.

Jackie Black proved a bit more intriguing as a character than th
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Ash Wednesday
2.5 STARS

I have to be honest, I bumped this up my TBR shelf because of Kem Nunn. I requested this galley on the strength of its intriguing blurb (Sex! And Crazy People!) but it's the season finale of Sons of Anarchy that propelled me to read this earlier than I intended. See Kem Nunn is a part of the show's writing team and anyone who connects that blurb with what SoA has delivered for six seasons (ie. women smacking other women with skateboards? The objectification of Charlie Hunnam's ass?) h
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Tuck
a most compelling noir horror. dr chance becomes emmoiled with a patient, who is abused and practically held hostage by her homicidal homicide detective ex-husband. or is she?
so dr. chance is gonna be her knight in shining armor, his sidekick an ex-special forces killer from afghanistan wars. or is he?
so dr. chance, such a meticulous, conservative soul, starts making choices, one leading to the other, that get him and his lying, cruel, sadistic running buddies and enemies into deeper and deeper
...more
Still
Mar 01, 2014 Still rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of Jim Nisbet. Pynchon's INHERENT VICE; Noir Fans; Thriller Fans
Recommended to Still by: I Collects Kem Nunn Writings
Amazon synopsis:
Nunn’s new novel is a dark book involving psychiatric mystery, sexual obsession, fractured identities, and terrifyingly realistic violence—a tale told amid the back streets of California’s Bay Area, far from the cleansing breezes of the ocean. This is a landscape where nameless persons lose their identities and find new ones after days of sex in a motel room, where homeless war veterans create neo-hippie encampments—this is California noir, this is Kem Nunn country. It’s not pret
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Frederic
The best Robert Stone novel NOT written by Robert Stone...all of the familiar Stone tropes(Nietzsche,The Bible,Shakespeare,Basic Ontology,the Grey Rat,Sentient Mud,sociopathic Zen Lunatics,drugs,alcohol,feckless and disorderly heroes,damaged women,children abandoned to their own devices,,,and that's just off the top of my head) are here in such abundance that it goes beyond homage into ventriloquism...loving Stone's work as I do it's heartening to see a good writer so influenced by and appreciat ...more
Stefani
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Scribner!



I feel so deceived by this book, it is a classic case of false advertising. So for my review, I will go through the synopsis sentence by sentence and tell you how it was a lie.

Read the rest of this review at: Written Among the Stars
Ellroy
The most disappointing book I've read all year. Kem Nunn has abandoned almost everything that made him great in favor of a muddled, boring, utterly aimless stroll through the Bay Area. Nunn's gift for moody, California noir scene-setting has vanished. He can't even describe San Francisco's fog in a compelling manner. Instead, his text is riddled with the lamest cliches on every page, so many that I wondered if I was being pranked. His storytelling devices are also incredibly cliched _ multiple p ...more
-Bookish Gal-
I have to admit, I have this morbid fascination with books about psychopaths and serial killers. The blurb on this book is really intriguing and fascinating and that's what made me request the title from Netgalley the moment I was done reading it.

Prior to this I was not aware of the author and perhaps wouldn't have requested the title based on that, had it not been for his association with SOA. Now it doesn't seem like a very prudent decision.

I have lots of grievances with this book the foremos
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Neven
I've stayed a fan of Nunn's through his shakier works, but this new novel is a real challenge. It's as if he has literally forgotten how to write. Never a master of believable or well-structured plot, here he loses control of style and character as well, so what remains is a something like a Dean Koontz/Stephen King piece, minus the usually focused premise, but plus the occasional turn of memorable phrase.

'Chance' opens with a setting, character, and theme quite removed from Nunn's typical fare
...more
Brenda
Dr. Eldon Chance is a forensic neuropsychiatrist working in LA, whose life, like many of his client’s lives, is slowly unraveling. First there is his divorce and the money that will cost, then his daughter’s troubles at school and finally his unhealthy attraction to a client, Jaclyn Black, who is being abused by her LA cop husband.

Chance knows that his life is unraveling, after all he is a professional who sees people in this predicament all the time, but in the moment, as it happens to him, eac
...more
Gloria Feit

The page before the first page by Ken Nunn contains a definition of the word “chance,” which concludes with the sentence “Sometimes granted agency, as in Chance governs all.” “Chance” is also the name of the protagonist, one Eldon J. Chance, MD, Associate Clinical Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry at UCSF Medical School. He is a forensic neuropsychiatrist (a new term for this reader) whose primary source of income these days is as an expert witness at or in preparation for trials. “He rarely saw so
...more
Francoise
I did read this tale of a neuro-psychologist caught up in a psychological games beyond his imaginings. But I'm not sure why I read it all the way through because I didn't really like the characters -- though the possibly psychopathic vigilante furniture forger who becomes the psychologist's ally against the seriously psychopathic villain is somewhat appealing in the matter-of-fact approach he takes towards violence and life. The book is strewn with his philosophies. Together, psychologist and po ...more
Allan MacDonell
Since I think of myself, pompously I guess, as one of them, I have a special weakness for fictional characters that are presented as very smart guys who do truly stupid things. Dr. Eldon Chance, the 49-year-old neuropsychiatrist protagonist of Kem Nunn’s Chance, executes a horrendous string of muddle-headed decisions that result in multiple murders and wanton maiming and two straight days of twisted sex with a former patient who displays more alternate personalities than a kaleidoscope has facet ...more
Ryan Dejonghe
More than being a book about dissociative personality disorder, this book itself suffers from dissociative personality disorder. CHANCE’s disingenuous description labels it as “an intense tale of psychological suspense”, but what’s presented is humorous noir. The book’s biggest sin, though, is trying to combine intelligent narrative with fatigued cliché, both in character and in dialogue.


Believability, or rather a lack thereof, will kill any book. Kem Nunn’s deft and detailed description of San
...more
Jonathan Trinder
Should you give Chance a chance? It depends if you've read, and enjoyed Nunn before. If you have, go ahead. If you haven't, pick up any of his others for a gentler introduction to his world.

Like the famous Stephen King, Nunn's style can be relied upon from book to book. I love how he puts you right in the thought center of a character's brain; his players are often fully aware that they are about to make a poor decision, but go ahead with it anyway, because...well, it's just who they are. Ces't
...more
Dan Downing
Between Nunn's first book, "Tapping the Source", and the present entry, he published four other titles, none of which, unaccountably, have I read. Considering the greatness of "Tapping" and the power, insight and darkness of "Chance", I feel quite sure I have missed out on some fine novels.

Dr.Eldon Chance represents California. He is a neuropsychiatrist who specializes in evaluating individuals and then testifying about their mental health in both civil and criminal cases. He is having trouble w
...more
Diane
This book pushed so hard on the noir scale, it tipped over to the nyahhhh scale. The dark elements of this story are matched only by the preponderance of fog - which is preposterous to anyone who knows the Bay Area. Neither life nor fog are as relentlessly hammering as presented here. Nunn has a number of good elements in his hand including his agility to breathe life into his offbeat characters. "D" a largely self-invented warrior and Chance's assistant, Lucy with quirks a-poppin' both have gre ...more
Jim

Chance is a modern take on the classic noir-crime genre of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett (especially Hammett as the story uses San Francisco and Oakland as it's setting).

Nunn waxes philosophical through out the novel, having his characters discuss Nietzsche, quote Kierkegaard (purity of heart is to will one thing), and ponder the meaning of meaning.

But make no doubt about the high-brow existential angst his main character Dr Chance endures both as an eager listener and as insufferable w
...more
Jennifer Haight
'Chance' promised to be a "suspenseful and mind-bending" novel but instead was dry and plotting. Many of the references and language choices felt dated.There was a hollowness to the central characters that made the book read more as a play or screenplay,where the actors are intended to round out the character.

The first half of the book was more fully realized, as the book continued from there it read more like an author's outlining than as the rich text that had been listed in the book descript
...more
Marisa Turpin
I would give this 2 and 1/2 stars if that was (were?) an option. I read it despite having first read numerous negative reviews. Maybe I should have heeded the warnings. However, I was interested in it because the main character [Dr. Chance] was a neuropsychiatrist who specialized in trauamatic brain injuries. The part that annoyed me (and I knew this going in) was that he becomes involved with a client. Being a therapist myself, it really bugs me when a professional crosses such a serious bounda ...more
Brick
Very enjoyable! A noir mystery/thriller, lots of ambiguity throughout, truly an archetype of a conflicted protagonist. I found myself on the edge of my chair resisting mightily the urge to scream at Dr. Chance, "don't do it!!" over and over again. Some truly remarkable lines, "history comes for the empire" and some totally remarkable characters. The contrast between Dr. Chance's qualms about certain of his actions and his reluctant but finally wholehearted commitment to other much more serious a ...more
Tim
This felt a bit off the Kem Nunn track (and I am a devoted fan of Nunn's work), but was compelling enough. I was drawn to the title (also the last name of the main character, neuropsychiatrist Dr. Eldon Chance, and "Eldon" is not a name you hear everyday), and the rich mine of theme the word suggests. As Dr. Chance puts it, "Mathematically speaking, an axiom is a proposition that is assumed without proof for the sake of studying the consequences that follow from it. You could say that's how we l ...more
Howard
This is a suspenseful mystery with psychological and neurological themes. (Because I've been dealing with some sinus problems I liked being reminded that Freud treated his with cocaine; but, regrettably, my ENT didn't bite.) I enjoyed an earlier Nunn book many years ago, and this is blurbed by Robert Stone, one of my gods, so I grabbed it off our library's new-books shelf. But I'd have to say there are lot of other books out there with stronger claims on our attention. I read it through in a cou ...more
Leslie
It was fun to read a psychological thriller based on a well-detailed San Francisco (since we are all a little psycho here). The protagonist is psychiatrist who thinks he is so smart; but he is in a vulnerable state and falls quickly into the wrong side of the law -- and the wrong side of everything else. Love to see arrogant people succumb because they can't see what's right in front of them.

The ending didn't work for me; it's as if Kem Nunn got bored with making sense of all the characters and
...more
Alison
I have given myself a few days before writing this review because I wanted to reflect.

The synopsis of this book is amazing. It sounded like exactly the type of book I would read and love. But once I started, I found it dull and slow. All the action is basically grouped together at the end of the book. The relationship between Chance and Jaclyn is uninteresting and lacks the passion I thought it would have. It was also, at times, hard to follow as Nunn regularly uses language that is medical in
...more
Lenny Husen
I tried to read this and just didn't like the main character. I am a big Kem Nunn fan and I love all of his other books, with the exception of Unassigned Territory, which I appreciated because my sister-in-law loved it, even that one I read twice and it was good.
But "Chance" is a mess, and simply, creepy. I love San Francisco, but it is clear that Nunn does not. Which is OK, but the fact that the main character has no character and is a poor excuse for a man, weak-minded, mentally ill, a loser,
...more
Terry
"The best noir is pointed, not so much about plot as it is about voice" [David Ulin, review of The Twenty Year Death by Ariel S Winter, Los Angeles Times, July 29, 2012, http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/...].
Kem Nunn has one of those voices. It's a voice that recognizes and reiterates that 'if there is a pale, decent people stay inside it' then delves deeply into the psyches of those who do not, indeed, stay inside. The voice of noir, to me, is about being able to reference in close proximit
...more
Deborah
Apr 24, 2015 Deborah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those who enjoy sophisticated psychological thrillers
Recommended to Deborah by: NetGalley
Shelves: netgalley, own
4.5 stars (but rounded down because Chance was not quite a 5 star read for me)

At first, I was a little put off by Chance's tone of voice; he seemed very dry and clinical, too distant for me to empathize with. I soon realized, however, how brilliant Nunn's choice was; the juxtaposition of this cool, self-analyzing voice with Chance's poor decisions made those decisions really stand out:

"If one was looking for a level head in the midst of catastrophic decline, then Carl Allan was hardly your man.
...more
Uwe Hook
Story that tries your patience as you watch Dr. Chance a psychiatrist and neurologist on one hand strut how much he knows about human behavior and them succumb to his own dark side......again and again. Good mystery but without the degrees it is pretty easy to see how this is going to end. Understanding the cause of your aberrant behavior does not stop you from indulging in it. Bottom line, a jerk is a jerk no matter how smart he is, so read only if you have some passion for jerks as heroes.
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Kem Nunn (born 1948) is an American fiction novelist, surfer, magazine and television writer from California. His novels have been described as "surf-noir" for their dark themes, political overtones and surf settings. He is the author of five novels, including his seminal surf novel Tapping the Source. He received an MFA in Creative Writing from UC Irvine.

He has collaborated with producer David Mi
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Tapping the Source Dogs of Winter Tijuana Straits Pomona Queen Unassigned Territory

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“It was how it had been with the madman among the tombs, that their number was legion, far in excess at any rate if the number listed on the back of the door as the room's maximum occupancy.” 1 likes
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