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(Blue Rose Trilogy #1)

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  8,882 ratings  ·  330 reviews
KOKO. Only four men knew what it meant. Now they must stop it. They are Vietnam vets a doctor, a lawyer, a working stiff, and a writer. Very different from each other, they are nonetheless linked by a shared history and a single shattering secret. Now, they have been reunited and are about to embark on a quest that will take them from Washington, D.C., to the graveyards an ...more
Paperback, 634 pages
Published May 8th 2001 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1988)
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Average rating 3.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,882 ratings  ·  330 reviews

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May 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who like long, character driven stories
Koko is a lenghty tome. My paperback copy spans 640 pages and promises great things - a haunting nightmare of four Vietnam veterans, reunited 15 years after the war, thrust back into the horrors of the war when they learn about a chain of murders comitted in Southeast Asia - the murderer always leaves a playing card with the word "Koko" scribbled on it. The word has eerie connotations for the four men - they believe that a former member of their platoon is behind the murders.

After Floating Drago
Mar 03, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned, i-said
It has been at least a decade since I last tried to read this book, which I had attempted before on two previous occasions. And I knew how far I had gotten each time, if not by some whiff of remembering; then at least by the markers I had placed where I had stopped each time. It was the pure principal of the thing that fuelled my surpassing both those afore laid markers, not the prose or the characters or the story. If memory serves me correctly I bought this book based solely on my experience o ...more
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, whodunit, war
If you’ve thought about reading Koko, then Be Like Mike and Just Do It. Stephen King fans may appreciate this book, and know about the connection with his friend, Peter Straub. These two guys are like bookends in the horror genre. At times, they even have a similar way of writing. But Koko is its own thing. It’s not like Straub’s earlier book Ghost Story (saw the movie – have yet to read the book). To me, that was horror. Koko has horrific acts – psychopathic killer, atrocities committed in war. ...more
Dirk Grobbelaar
Apr 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own, horror
Tricksy Review

Where to start? An uneasy read, this.

There is real madness to be found here. A brooding, heady insanity.

Koko, the novel, is a disjointed, psychological, somewhat confusing affair. Why then is it such a good read? Well, because that is also the best way to describe half the characters in this piece of work. There is certainly method to the madness here. And Koko himself? He's certainly a disturbed man… and it rubs off.

This book is not a quick read, it's everything but, and when I
mark monday
the atmosphere of degradation, regret, self-loathing, and impending doom was pervasive and absorbing. the author shows a sure hand with characterization and a steady one with narrative. the identity of the killer was unsurprising but well-conceived. and either as an extended metaphor for What We Did Wrong in Vietnam or as an ominous tract on the depths that some men can sink in their hunger for self-destruction, Koko certainly succeeds.
Jon Recluse
Nov 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, thriller
This is the epitome of mystery/thriller writing, penned by a master of literary fiction at the height of his powers.
Four men, bonded by the horrors of war, reunite to hunt one of their own, when a series of brutal killings a world away leads them back into their shared pasts, to face the specter that haunts them all.....KOKO.
A dense, complex book that showcases all of Straub's impressive skills as a wordsmith, disassembling and recreating the world around the reader, word by word, sentence by se
Bill Khaemba
Finally finished it :) Buddy Read with the awesome The Eclectic Club It was fun ride but it had some bumps along the way :) ...more
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Mike by: Maciek

This has got to be one of the best thrillers I've ever read. That might sound like a backhanded compliment, especially if you happen to know that I don't read a lot of thrillers, but I don't mean it to be. I'm even tempted to call it the Moby-Dick of thrillers; it's long after all, tempestuous, a little dreamlike, it sometimes meanders, and it's about four men in the same boat (even if not a literal one), chasing a dangerous and elusive figure from the past who may be a symbol of something, or j
Cody | CodysBookshelf
As is the case when I finish other Peter Straub novels, I closed Koko last night, speechless, aware that I had been, at least on a tiny level, transformed. As per usual with Straub, this book is an experience: light beach reading it is not.

Straub deals in and with psychology, tethering it to literary elements; like human psychology, his narratives and characters are puzzles that are not so easy to complete. It is best for one to take his or her time when reading Straub, and to not get overwhelm
Edward Lorn
May 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
I'm only reviewing this so that, if I ever mistakenly pick this up again in the future, I will have a warning in place to steer me to something else instead.

I first read this as a stupid teenager and enjoyed it. The book starts off great but then meanders into an antiquated jumble of overwrought writing and cringe-worthy narration.

In the narration, which is omnicient at times, and not in dialogue or a character's thoughts:

"His yellow smile" to describe an Asian person's smile. I'm sure some will
May 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Koko is absolutely brilliant! This book reads like a recollected nightmare and the twists and turns will leave you dizzy.

James Renner
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Found this novel staring at me from the shelf of a used book store about a year ago. I picked it up, saw it was a first edition, and decided I had nothing to lose at the discounted price of $2.50. As I walked it to the counter, a single playing card fell out of the middle of the book, where, I assume, someone had marked a page. Only later did I come to discover how disturbing an omen this was.

My only exposure to Peter Straub (excellent Slate interview here) before this book was through his colla
S.B. Redstone
Dec 12, 2011 rated it did not like it
No one could say that Peter Straub can't write a beautiful sentence or that his description of people and places isn't excellent. I love his usage of language. This is 562 pages long. But, what I have found with horror writers, they seem to have a need to prove that they are better writers, which is ridiculous, and begin to picture themselves as great literary figures. And that is what I feel happened in this book. After forty pages, I had no idea who the main character really is; I have bits an ...more
Dec 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, dark-tales, war, 2017
This book is a chaotic story about the post Vietnam syndrome that has plagued so many of those who fought there. It does show that prolonged exposure of you men to situations of extreme violence and stress due to the constant promise of violence, does alter anybody his psyche.

I once spoke with somebody who served a year in Afghanistan under constant pressure and he admitted that he had a hard time conforming to the "normal"situations after returning to his home. He did recognize his own paranoia
Tom A.
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A frustratingly complex examination of the nature of evil that is hampered by the author's peculiar style.

Koko is a lot of things all at once. It is a serial killer thriller that dwells on the damaging effects of the Vietnam War on the men that fought it. It is an examination of the roots of violence, where it comes from and how it affects different kinds of persons. It is also, as Laird Barron puts it, an “astonishing account of a descent into lunacy and depravity” (“Koko: Stalking Through the
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Straub is on his game there are few writers that can pen a story like he can.

Koko, while meandering in several places with a few dead-end story lines, still manages to be a skillfully written and engaging thriller.

The boys are getting back together to go after one of their own who has slid off the rails and gone on a killing spree. They need to find him and get him some help. Well…cash in on the story of how they caught him is more like it. Either way, he is one of their own and they need
Apr 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Will put my thoughts together at a later date when I have more time. This was another group read that took a long time to get through, but that's not a reflection on the quality of the book - life just got in the way a lot! ...more
The Face of Your Father
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
1988’s dark examination of PTSD.

‘Koko' is a novel centered on a group of Vietnam soldiers more than a decade after the war. The terrors explored within this novel are especially cutting as they focus on the all too true atrocities of war. The characters are definitely the strongest point of this novel, the bond (and sometimes hatred) between them is felt as it oozes from the page. It is criminal to not bring up Straub's clever and brilliant writing; the point-of-view chapters narrated by a hallu
Rabbit {Paint me like one of your 19th century gothic heroines!}
DNF @ Pg 121: I'm having such a hard time focusing on this book when I'm reading it. I find Straub's writing,on his own, really dry. *Sighs* I also really like the anthologies he has edited/complied. *feels like a loser with an unpopular opinion*

I feel really bad, but I will read 20 pages and space out, re-read them, and nothing registers that much. This rarely happens to me. I did really try, but I just feel like I'm just draaaaaging this one along.

I hope other people really like it though. I
Apr 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-library
Review to come......not even sure where to start with this one, lol!
Julie Failla Earhart
Aug 17, 2009 rated it it was ok
Peter Straub is considered one of the greatest thriller writers of our time; second only perhaps to the master Stephen King. Yet, somehow I missed never reading anything by Straub. When Anchor Books re-released Koko, the first book in the “Blue Rose Trilogy,” I jumped at the chance to review it.
The Washington Post claimed that the 1988 work was “brilliantly written…an inspired thriller…(Straub’s) finest work.” I was ready, eager, anxious, and waiting when the almost six-hundred-page paperback la
Ashley Daviau
Mar 29, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
DNF - I’ve come to the conclusion the Peter Straub is just not for me. He’s clearly an old white man writing stories for other old white men, not my bag!
Benoit Lelièvre
I hate to be a dick here but the perceived value of having been written by Peter Straub seems to have carried a competent, yet otherwise dated and overweight thriller for close to thirty years now. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot to like about KOKO. It has a lot to say about war, PTSD and the meaninglessness of murder, but there is material that sprawls over pages of this book that haven't aged all that well. The countercultural tour of Southeast Asia among others have been done to death since ...more
Oct 20, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I know I tried to read this book... It had something to do with the Vietnam War, but I never found out what "Koko" meant and I couldn't shake the idea that it was about a gorilla... ...more
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
Totally and utterly amazing. I bought this book for two reasons: it was written by the co-author of The Talisman, and it was a hardcover book in good condition that cost me $1.00.
This was the first book by Peter Straub that I read, and it absolutely blew me away. While this book is not exactly a horror story, it does have spine-tingling moments. One public opinion I resent is that horror fiction has to involve supernatural occurrences, but in this case I have to agree. This book does not incorp
Jim C
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the start of a trilogy. In this one, members of a Vietnam unit come together in search of one of their own. They believe that the person they are looking for is committing murders and leaving a card with the word "Koko" written on it. They also believe this ties in within an incident that happened in Vietnam during the war.

I would classify this book as a mystery book within a psychological thriller. It is also one of the darkest books I have read. It delves into child abuse, killing of i
Chris Brown
Jan 31, 2013 rated it did not like it
I presume the only reason this book made the best seller lists was due to the public's fascination with psychotic Vietnam war vets. Not only is it boring, the character actions are completely stupid ("Here's a great idea, the killer is isolated in a basement completely unaware that several precints worth of police are blanketing his neighborhood looking for him. No, lets not notify the police, lets openly enter the basement unarmed in order to reason with him. Oh no! He escaped using us as hosta ...more
Espen Aukan
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a tough read, very hard to get through. But in the end it was worth it. It was slow, detailed, tough language. Straub is demanding, like jazz. But as hard as it was I always wanted to pick it up again, to read on, to find out what tragedies and mysteries were ahead.
Duncan Ralston
Oct 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Long-winded but worth the read.
He could have told the same story, shortened by about 200 pages. I love stories about Vietnam and PTSD so this still resonated.
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first in a loosely-related trilogy (I already read “The Throat” several years ago [see my review], but only afterward did I realize it was part of a larger opus). “KOKO” is a combination horror/mystery work, involving five former members of an infantry squad in Vietnam, who come together for a reunion at the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial. In Vietnam, they had participated in atrocities in a small village, Ia Thuc, which has haunted them all since. Currently (in the early 1980’s), they ...more
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Horror Aficionados : Koko - Peter Straub 75 116 Apr 07, 2015 05:14AM  

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Peter Straub was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 2 March, 1943, the first of three sons of a salesman and a nurse. The salesman wanted him to become an athlete, the nurse thought he would do well as either a doctor or a Lutheran minister, but all he wanted to do was to learn to read.

When kindergarten turned out to be a stupefyingly banal disappointment devoted to cutting animal shapes out of heavy

Other books in the series

Blue Rose Trilogy (3 books)
  • Mystery (Blue Rose Trilogy #2)
  • The Throat

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