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The Fall Guy

2.96  ·  Rating details ·  2,903 ratings  ·  431 reviews
It is summer, 2012. Charlie, a wealthy banker with an uneasy conscience, invites his troubled cousin Matthew to visit him and his wife in their idyllic mountaintop house. As the days grow hotter, the friendship between the three begins to reveal its fault lines, and with the arrival of a fourth character, the household finds itself suddenly in the grip of uncontrollable pa ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 18th 2016 by W. W. Norton Company
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Julie O'brien
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Gabrielle Things definitely happen! Whether you will really care what happens, given that none of the characters are particularly sympathetic, is another…moreThings definitely happen! Whether you will really care what happens, given that none of the characters are particularly sympathetic, is another question.(less)

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abby
Jun 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Matthew and Charlie are cousins, more like brothers really, but their lives have gone in very different directions. Charlie is a successful investment banker and a married father. He owns multiple homes, has a million dollars in cash in his home safe, and is the type to be impressed with his own wealth. Matthew lives in a dingy one bedroom and is still striving to make his mark in the restaurant business. Both men are harboring some measure of resentment toward the other, but, like in most famil ...more
Erin
Oct 18, 2016 rated it did not like it
Enh. I didn't like the characters, and I know I wasn't supposed to, but they weren't even well written, and well written unlikable characters can still be enjoyable. I wasn't wowed by the plot or the author's writing voice, either. Lasdun seems to regard that old writing adage "show don't tell" as bad advice, and spends a lot (a lot) of the book hammering us with telling, with very little showing. Early on, there's this:

"[They] sat in the living room one morning playing Scrabble. Matthew's famil
...more
Trish
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ever since I read It’s Beginning to Hurt, a collection of stories by James Lasdun, I have eagerly picked up any writing of his I could find. He comes from a long line of self-aware male novelists who point to themselves, the human condition with its male inadequacies, and laugh with us, e.g., Julian Barnes, Ian McEwan, Graham Swift, and further back, Kingsley Amis and P.G. Wodehouse. That Lasdun is not as broad as these last two, matters not at all for what it is he perceives and is able to conv ...more
Rebecca
(2.5) This is a capable psychological thriller about an out-of-work chef who becomes obsessed with the idea that his wealthy cousin’s alluring wife is cheating on him during a summer spent with them in their upstate New York bolthole. I liked hearing about Matthew’s cooking and Chloe’s photography, and it’s interesting how Lasdun draws in a bit about banking and the Occupy movement. However, the complicated Anglo-American family backstory between Matthew and Charlie feels belabored, and the fact ...more
omgbart
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
Whoever is handling publicity for this new release, is doing an excellent job. Covered in one of the weeklies as a must read thriller for Fall, 'The Fall Guy' really did not deliver in my opinion. The tale of revenge and obsession involved no thrills at all. I appreciate a multi-layer psychological suspense but this book was rather slow and the ending left me with a 'meh'. Don't get me started on the amateurish 'stalking' of Chloe, her elusive yoga classes and the wealthy husband's paranoia. The ...more
Petra
Oct 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, literary
Matthew, an unemployed and struggling chef, accompanies his wealthy cousin, Charlie, and Charlie's wife, Chloe, to their idyllic country house for the summer. Through secrets, suspicions, and jealousy cracks in their relationships are revealed, as Matthew becomes increasingly obsessed with Chloe and her behavior.
The story is told solely from the perspective of Matthew. I would have preferred to have Charlie's and especially Chloe's perspectives as well. While Matthew's character was well develop
...more
Jillian
Oct 16, 2016 rated it liked it
This would have been so much better if told from all 3 character perspectives!
Blair
Cousins Matthew and Charlie set off to spend their summer at the latter's second home, along with Charlie's wife, Chloe. Charlie, a former banker turned 'ethical investor', is a multimillionaire; Matthew, a restaurateur with no current job and vague dreams of opening a 'gourmet food truck', has not been quite so successful (though this is one of those stories so stuffed with unimaginably privileged people that Matthew still has the sort of lifestyle most of us can only dream of). To make matters ...more
Jill
Sep 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
First of all, I’m grateful to the Goodreads Firstreads program and to the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, for allowing me to be an early reader.

James Lasdun knows a thing or two about betrayal and revenge. In the last book I read by him – a memoir entitled Give Me Everything You Have – he tells the harrowing real-life story of being stalked by an unbalanced student.

So it’s no surprise that this work of fiction, The Fall Guy, is so darn good. It builds momentum slowly, beginning with the in
...more
Marjorie
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss
Wealthy Charlie and Chloe have invited Charlie’s cousin Matthew, a struggling chef, to stay with them in their luxurious home for the summer. Matthew stays in the guest cottage and dreams of perhaps one day living there as caretaker of the home. He steps in as chef for the three of them and cooks enticing meals and they spend their days lounging by the pool or playing Scrabble. But tensions, suspicions and jealousy slowly escalate and the cracks in their relationship begin to appear.

Saying anyth
...more
Liz Barnsley
The Fall Guy was just too slow. That is the basic reason that it was not for me. I'm not sure selling it as a "Taut psychological thriller " is doing it any favours because it is not taut nor is it really a thriller. It is more character study and yes some lovely literary writing the author has got going on here but although I love some literary stuff I need to have at least a sense that something might happen soon. Or at least a little tension.

I think it would have worked better from multiple v
...more
Amy
Sep 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
“The Fall Guy” by James Lasdun tells the story of Matthew, his cousin Charlie, and Charlie’s wife Chloe, as they leave New York City to spend the warmer summer months at their home near the Catskill mountains. As the summer wears on, their proximity to each other and their seemingly tight knit relationships begin to show the cracks of mistrust, past harms and current betrayals leading all three to make difficult decisions about their lives once they are forced to return to reality.

“The Fall Guy”
...more
Andy Weston
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a decent psychological slow-burning thriller set in rural New York State. Charlie is invited to spend the summer with his good friend Matthew, a city financier, and his wife in their very smart holiday home. It isn't long into the novel when it is clear that despite his cooking and general help around the place, Charlie's presence is a bit awkward, a bit of a hanger-on.

Dirty deeds are expected, but the pace of the novel isn't quick, not that that is a problem, it suits the hot New York
...more
Jessica Sullivan
Dec 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a fast, engrossing read with better writing than I expect from a book like this.

Matthew, stagnant and inadequate in his own life, observes the lives of those around him with envy, projecting his own desires onto others. His main focus is his successful cousin, Charlie, with whom he shares a complicated history. When Charlie and his wife Chloe invite Matthew to spend the summer with them at their mansion in the mountains, tensions slowly rise and things take a turn for the ominous.

Matthe
...more
Jana
Nov 16, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
Disclaimer: I didn't finish this book. I got about 50% through before I stopped reading. BECAUSE NOTHING WAS HAPPENING. Wouldn't you think a book called "The Fall Guy" would include like some crime, a cover up, some action at all? This just didn't have that for me. It was like reading about a socially awkward person being very slow to make these connections about the people in his life (that as the non-socially awkward reader, I kept making long before him).

To the author's credit, I think a lot
...more
Martie Nees Record
Genre: Physical Thriller
Publisher: W. W. Norton and Company

Mini Review

We meet two cousins that have a long history together. At one point in their teens they lived together. They have loving memories as well as buried resentments for one another. Throw in an obsessive attraction to the wife and what you get is a murder mystery. I enjoyed this book, but I suspect many fans of the genre, Physical Thriller, will not be. The difference between “Fall Guy” and most other thrillers is that this is a sl
...more
K
Oct 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
I think I heard too much about this book before I read it. The book flap bills it as a "taut psychological thriller" and a "complex moral tale as well as a gripping suspense story," and the book club that sent it to me said "I would recommend starting this book early in the day - once you pop, you won't stop".

In fact I DID read this book all in one sitting, but my primary motivation to keep turning pages was curiosity about when the "psychological thriller" aspects were going to kick in. It's no
...more
Holly
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-reads
After having just read A Month in the Country (Carr) and To the Wedding (Berger) this new Lasdun novel seemed gauche and almost vapid. If it hadn't been a library-download about to expire from my device, I would not have chosen to read this directly after those works of understated complexity and sublime beauty. But I'm not saying I would have loved this novel even if it hadn't been juxtaposed with those two.

This is a quasi-mystery and here Lasdun is again exploring the mind of a sociopath throu
...more
Shel
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
Thank you NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

After hearing about this book from a few book bloggers I was very excited to get a chance to read this book but that's where the excitement ended. The book takes a very, very long time for anything exciting to happen. Basically, half the book is spent "setting the scene" and the other half flys by. I mean I was flat out shocked when I turned the last page because there was at least another chapter or 2 of story to go. I
...more
Sue
Sep 22, 2017 rated it liked it
This is not a greatly memorable book, but it is surely diverting. Disappointingly, the characters are flat and – across the board – unsympathetic. But there’s an intriguing plot, an unfolding story of people whose past relations with each other, while not immediately apparent, are particularly awful.

In the beginning, we have a trio – an investment banker who recently lost his job but has no shortage of money, his lovely photographer wife who appears flawless, and the banker’s cousin, a fine che
...more
Brenda Ayala
Dec 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: shelf-awareness
To put it bluntly, this book tries way too hard.

I've read a LOT of thrillers. Short of actual horror, they're probably my favorite genre. In that, I've read a good chunk of novels about weirdly obsessed men with women. I read The Undoing, Watching Edie, and Orchard Grove all just this year, in fact.

You know what all those books did well that The Fall Guy didn't? Focused on the characters. Y'know, the characters who are either stalking or being stalked? The ones who make terrible decisions that d
...more
Marsha
May 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love stories like this, that plunge me right in from page one. Matthew, a down-on-his-luck chef, visits Charlie and Chloe, his wealthy cousin and wife. At first everything seems idyllic, but as the story progresses, each character has secrets and motives that slowly unfold. The narrative is from Matthew's point of view and at first you might believe everything he says, but again, as things progress, you have reasons to wonder if he's being totally honest. And then it's a matter of Chloe, who c ...more
Kasa Cotugno
Very quick read, and that's the best thing about it. There is a bit of tension during the last 1/3 of the book that could have gone in many different directions, but didn't resolve. As noted in the description, there are three main characters -- Charles married to Chloe, an affluent couple who invite Charles's cousin Matthew to spend the summer at their "place" in the Catskills. As the backstory unspools, we learn of Matthew's troubled past and familial history with Charles. We learn nothing of ...more
MaryannC.Book Fiend
A kind of messed drama about Matthew who goes to stay at the summer home of his rich cousin Charlie and his alluring wife Chloe. While there Matthew begins to see fissures in what he thought was a great marriage/relationship between his cousin and his wife as well as his own relationship to Charlie. One day on a suspicious hunch he follows Chloe only to discover her betrayal which begins a chain of events that ultimately does Matthew in. Without giving away more of the plot, the ending is what l ...more
Shakeia
Oct 24, 2016 rated it did not like it
I don't give a whole lot of one star reviews, so this kinda pains me. But not as much as reading this book. I assumed by the cover art that I wouldn't like this book, but the title totally made me give it a shot.

While not a requirement, not a single character was likable or relatable. It took more than half of the book for there to even be any action. And then it kinda ends abruptly.

I wasted a free Book of the Month Club credit on this book and I'll never get it back. Saying this book was under
...more
Andrew
Aug 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Loved it. The perfect blend of drama, suspense and literary merit. Characters with depth that you care about and who act like real people, not characters in books. Unlike most books, I did not know how it would turn out which kept me involved. Loved it. Highly recommended.
Raven
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A new author for me, and a great introduction to his work, as The Fall Guy, resonates with a feel of Patricia Highsmith, and kept the Raven hooked in its clutches…
As is natural with an intense character driven psychological thriller of this kind, the synopsis above is all I am going to give you in terms of plot reveal. Like me, I would urge you to read this largely in a vacuum of unknowing, as the tension both in personal relationships, and the air of deceit and disloyalty, gradually builds and
...more
Stephen Goldenberg
I should have learned my lesson by now. Two important rules in life - never eat in a restaurant which has pictures of the food outside and never read a novel with a picture of a woman in a swimsuit/bikini lying on a beach or next to a swimming pool on the cover. This is basically a story about obsession with a psychological thriller element tacked on. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work as a thriller as there is no real tension. Also, none of the three main characters in this summer ménage à trois, M ...more
Joyce
I always appreciate novels of psychological suspense, and I think they work well on audio--that moody, often chilling tone and unlikeable characters. This time I wonder if I would have enjoyed it more in print, as the narrator distracted and certainly didn't do the book justice. Poor cousin Matthew spends the summer with superrich Charles and wife Chloe (whom Matthew has long adored from afar) at their plush home in the Catskills. The tension among the characters is palpable from the very first, ...more
Moore
Sep 05, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
I’m going to blame the Guardian or the S.times for this- looking for a summer holiday read, one of those two kicked this up, I’m sure.......

Look- I wasn’t keen on ‘Everything you have....’ at all- I thought it showed something smug, self assured, vain even- which was an incongruous tone in a book about a male professor being stalked by a female student.

This book is curiously also monotone and overly comfortable in its male gaze. Told all from the view of Matthew- an unreliable narrator, but als
...more
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James Lasdun was born in London and now lives in upstate New York. He has published two novels as well as several collections of short stories and poetry. He has been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and short-listed for the Los Angeles Times, T. S. Eliot, and Forward prizes in poetry; and he was the winner of the inaugural U.K./BBC Short Story Prize. His nonfiction has been published in Harpe ...more
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“And then finally there was that sense of almost supernatural kinship that exists often between people who seem on the surface quite unalike but whom life conspires to link by a succession of small affinities, creating a bond that exists in a world of its own, requiring neither comment nor confirmation in this world.” 0 likes
“Everyone could work hard under the right conditions, and it was possible to enjoy hard work, even the most numbing, backbreaking toil. But you had to have a sense of participating in some greater good than just the maintaining of your own small existence; some human quorum or congregation of a size sufficient to align you with the world instead of against it. The imagination had to be fired, and kept alight. The heart had to feel the presence of joy and warmth. He” 0 likes
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