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The Cook

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  423 ratings  ·  64 reviews
The Cook opens with Conrad, nearly seven feet tall, gaunt, and dressed all in black, arriving on his bicycle in the town of Cobb. He quickly secures a job as cook for the wealthy Hill family, winning their hearts and stomachs with his delectable dishes, and before long he has everyone around him eating out of his hand. But Conrad has a sinister, inscrutable plan in view, a ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 217 pages
Published February 1966 by Pocket Cardinal (first published 1965)
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Average rating 3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  423 ratings  ·  64 reviews


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William Gibson
Aug 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Little known but nonetheless fantastic. True horror written by a man with a mind unfettered by convention.

Just out of curiosity I checked Amazon.com. It has a five-star rating and is available used, in paperback, starting at $33. I have a First Printing hardback which I got for 75 cents at a yard sale. I shall now move it from the back bedroom to the safe.

It's not for sale.
...more
AdiTurbo
May 18, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An extremely bizarre book of which I hardly know what to make. I enjoyed reading it, but was left with a strange feeling of having been manipulated somehow, like the characters of this book. It is written like a legend - it never tells you when and where the events take place. With no background, all you're left with are the characters and plot. The only interesting character is Konrad, the cook. The others are mere shadows. IS he supposed to be the devil, using people's cravings against them an ...more
Phil Lancaster
Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another lost gem uncovered by Valancourt. A rich confection of fable, fairy story and dark, deepening horror. You'll find the enigmatic Conrad has a dish for even the most discerning palate... Highly recommended ...more
Gal
By far the most bizarre reading experiencing I have ever had. I have so many questions.

What a fantastic, well-written, beautifully odd book.
Paul
Apr 15, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
With this book and me, it was love at first sight. The original cover was designed by Milton Glaser and when I saw it in design school I was straight smitten. Imagine this:
http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images... without the blurb, the pocket logo, the "A Novel" identifier. Anyway, I was into it. So I went to find/buy a copy online, and discovered it ran for around $200, since it's totally out of print. Here's why:

The book isn't good. The main character, a mysterious figure who shows up at a ri
...more
Maria Lago
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This has to be one of the weirdest and most fascinating books I have ever read. The story has a fairytale quality to it that makes it even eerier: where does this happen? Who are these people? What is the metaphore? Is there a metaphore? Or is it just that Kressing wants to scare the shit out of us? It's all possible! Read and decide for yourself... ...more
Africandreamer
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fable, re-readable
I've read The Cook numerous times and even went so far as buying a first edition in hardback (the green version with an attenuated Conrad on the front!) at not inconsiderable expense. I first came across it in 1988 (I think) when it was published by Black Swan and I was intrigued by both the synopsis on the back cover and the book cover itself. Some time later and after numerous re-reads, I lent the book to someone and never saw it again, hence the purchase of the first edition. That's how much ...more
Margaret
I'm not sure what I can say about this book that hasn't already been said - an unusual tale of diabolical manipulation and gluttony. I'm not sure if Conrad's odd influence on people was due to his food, his personality or both. Why was everyone so easily manipulated and why did they not resent it? A thought-provoking read - thanks for sharing it! ...more
Patricia
Aug 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book on my grandfather's bookshelf years ago. It was an old edition, and it had a very creepy looking cover. It's a fantastic, quick read for a rainy Fall weekend.... ...more
Luke
May 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
I imagine this novel to take place in some kind of weird Mad Men universe. It's that drinks-before-dinner, hired-help-run-the-show kind of world where there's precise demarcation between what's meant to happen and those it's meant to happen to. Think of it like Upstairs, Downstairs only with Betty Draper and you're probably about right.

Naturally, this clockwork world goes to shit the moment the titular character shows up.



Conrad, the cook of the title, is seven feet tall and sepulchral. I imagi
...more
Scott Drake
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A combination of simple story with simple characters and a delicious deviousness that is cleverly written to convey a sense of humor and dread simultaneously. There are few psychological stories that match this short but sweet tale.

I highly recommend this book to all readers everwhere. It's a fine wine, a gourmet meal, a pastry of unimaginable delight with a sinister smile...
...more
Kathy Moore
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
If Austen's Emma was a male chef, and decided to start a cult, this would be the result. ...more
Eric
Conrad the cook comes to town and effortlessly manipulates people with his food. It's like an evil Chocolat. Things start off deliciously nasty, peaking with an amazing knife fight halfway through. But it lags toward the end. The problem is how doltish the town is, how Conrad is alone in his intelligence. He has everyone (literally) eating out of the palm of his hand by page 30. The result is a little like playing a video game with cheat codes, there's no challenge anymore. Needful Things also h ...more
Lou
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read this forgotten, out of print novel because it was an inspiration for the 1970's cult film "Something for Everyone" with Michael York and Angela Lansbury. The movie was a sex farce, but this novel is not, it's more of a slow burn: starting off as a fairy tale-like fable, it morphs into a chilling novella about a character (Conrad) who is ultimately evil, insinuating himself into an upper class household by seduction with food and ultimately winning them over with his forbidding personality ...more
David
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The story is rather drawn out in a way. You can totally guess where it's going and you have to sit there and wait for things to very slowly drag on. The fact that the main character gets faced no opposition at any point is odd to say the least and as you read it it seems like there is some sort of thing going on, as if Conrad had some dark history with either family and you expect him to be fattening up Esther and marrying her and also slowly killing Daphne because he's secretly a bastard descen ...more
Galactic Hero
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Conrad shows up in Cobb's countryside to begin work as cook in the Hill mansion. We don't know too much about him save for the fact that he's tall, thin, from "The City" and interested in an abandoned castle called "The Prominence." What ensues is a steady slow inexorable grind of (view spoiler)

Not sure what I was expecting. More twists and turns? More gore? A shocking revelation? Not much of that, just the sinking realiza
...more
Roy
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an addicting read, though I’m not entirely sure why. Much like the characters in the book, I became addicted. Surely there must be some hidden meaning, some symbolism....right?

I think the character of Dr. Law had a pretty accurate quote later in the book, which sums it up pretty well:

“This is all your doing, sir . . .”
Conrad looked at him coldly. “Are you asking me or making a statement?”
“I don’t know, sir,” Dr. Law said. “I really don’t know.”
Caroline
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic - and fantastical
Debra B.
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an an excellent book with a very creative plot. I couldn't put it down. ...more
Donald R
Fun read, but

Where’s the the meat? Good start that fails to arrive anywhere. It is as if like the author got tired of storytelling.
Michael Lawrence
Mar 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Conrad Venn is six and a half feet tall. Wearing black and carrying his personal carving knife and a distinctive collection of recipes, he rides into town on a bicycle to take up employment as cook at the mansion of the Hill family. But Conrad's prowess as a cook is as extraordinary as his appearance, and his exquisite cooking casts such a spell over the family that the entire household is soon in thrall to him.

That's most of what I remember about this novel - it's many years since I read it -
...more
William Gibson
Jun 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Little known but nonetheless fantastic. True horror written by a man with a mind unfettered by convention.

Just out of curiosity I checked Amazon.com. It has a five-star rating and is available used, in paperback, starting at $33. I have a First Printing hardback which I got for 75 cents at a yard sale. I shall now move it from the back bedroom to the safe.

It's not for sale.
...more
Melissa
Jun 05, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book stinks. I'm sure not picking up very satisfying stuff lately. Perhaps if my household was run by servants, I'd find this tale more shocking - that nefarious cook has turned us all into butlers & maids, and now we wait on him! Nooooo!! ...more
Donald
Aug 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book! Conrad, the cook from the title, is a wonderful character - cunning, manipulative, and, dare I suggest?, evil. I loved the subtlety of his plans and discretion with which he executed them! Fun read!
Melanie Formosa
when i read this, i was told it was a great book. it had almost a mystical quality to it for the man who recommended it to me...he probably still has it on some hallowed shelf somewhere...
Gil Reavill
Oct 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Get thee behind me, Conrad
Saneseeker
Sep 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
I read this when I was only 14 and many times since. A unique, gripping black tale of the power of food. This book lives within me like no book I've read since... ...more
Andy Deemer
Nov 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun, funny, quick yarn of a fable. A nice afternoon read.
Kathleen
read in June 1994 and don't remember it ...more
Maartje
A nice fable that reminded me of "Perfume" in some aspects. ...more
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Valancourt Books: The Cook (1965) by Harry Kressing 1 11 Apr 02, 2015 11:28AM  

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Harry Kressing is the pseudonym of Harry Adam Ruber. He was born in New York in 1928, the son of Harry and Jean Ruber. He attended Indiana University and went on to be a lawyer and also served in the U.S. Air Force. Little is known about Ruber, though he and his wife apparently lived for some time on the west coast of Ireland and also in London, where he researched at the London School of Economic ...more

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