The Great Leader: A Novel

Open Road + Grove/Atlantic
6
Free sample

“A wild ride . . . [and] a thoroughly enjoyable tale of religion, sex and money . . . this is not your grandfather’s detective novel.” —Tim McNulty, The Seattle Times
 
New York Times–bestselling author Jim Harrison has won international acclaim for his masterful body of work, including Returning to Earth, Legends of the Fall, and over thirty books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. In this enthralling, witty, and expertly crafted novel, he follows one man on a hunt for an elusive cult founder, dubbed “The Great Leader.”
 
On the verge of retirement, Detective Sunderson begins to investigate a hedonistic cult, which has set up camp near his home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. At first, the self-declared Great Leader seems merely a harmless oddball, but as Sunderson and his sixteen-year-old sidekick dig deeper, they find him more intelligent and sinister than they realized. Recently divorced and frequently pickled in alcohol, Sunderson tracks his quarry from the woods of Michigan to a town in Arizona, filled with criminal border-crossers, and on to Nebraska, where the Great Leader’s most recent recruits have gathered to glorify his questionable religion. But Sunderson’s demons are also in pursuit of him.
 
“Jim Harrison is unsurpassed at chronicling man’s relationship with wilderness . . . The Great Leader is hugely enjoyable.” —Tom Bissell, Outside Magazine
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About the author

Jim Harrison is the author of four volumes of novellas, seven novels, seven collections of poetry, and a previous collection of nonfiction. The winner of a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Spirit of the West Award from the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Association, his work has been published in twenty-two languages.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Open Road + Grove/Atlantic
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Published on
Oct 4, 2011
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9780802195081
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Literary
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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In a gritty thriller from the acclaimed author whom William Vollmann called "a real storyteller," a street-smart young woman takes what looks like an easy job and ends up having to solve a murder case -- before the next body that turns up is her own.

Queenie Sells is having what she thinks is a good day. After getting fired from her job at a calendar company for botching Daylight Savings, she is informally hired by a wealthy acquaintance to track down his girlfriend, a stripper named Trigger Happy. But Queenie's seemingly good luck turns hard when she finds Trigger dead in her apartment.

Now Queenie's daily routine of being a drunk smart-ass is put on hold as she becomes both a suspect for the murder and the target for an unknown predator. Hopping from bar to bar, from Coney Island clam stands to the Waldorf-Astoria, she inadvertently lands on the trail of Trigger's killer and puts herself in the line of fire.

Along the way she meets Rey, a private eye with a soft spot for tough-talking ladies; Detective Olds, the stuttering cop who thinks Queenie's the culprit; and a dozen New York denizens, among them a cult recruiter, a hit man, a thief, and even Rip Torn -- some strange, some sad, some sweet, and some deadly, every one dropping in and out of Queenie's life as she searches for each fragile piece of the puzzle that may eventually lead her to the truth.

With danger closing in on her, Queenie can't help but realize the precariousness of her own mortality. As she stares out of the window at an old lady on the corner, she thinks, "There is nothing separating you from that old lady right now -- maybe something, maybe time is all, but that's really nothing when you think about it." After all, thinks Queenie, it's just days. But unless she can find the killer before the killer finds her, Queenie's days are seriously numbered.
Every now and then, a small American town produces someone with such out-of-place talent that he seems to have come from a different world. In the 1960s hardscrabble town of Laroque, Wisconsin, seventeen-year-old Ginger Piper, a high school sports hero and a disarmingly poised and articulate young man, is that sort of figure. Or at least G. Bowman Epps—a rich, lonely, middle-aged lawyer—believes he is.

Bow is something of a town legend too: Ungainly and scarred, brilliant and stern, famous for great inherited wealth, he seems a vestige of a time gone by in a town where the legacy of past greatness—embodied in the ornate, decaying, and defunct opera house—casts a literal shadow. But when Bow discovers Ginger Piper, he is energized and inspired. Where others have seen merely a charming basketball star, Bow spies the seeds of something greater and the drive, intelligence, and passion to carry on Bow’s legacy as a groundbreaking criminal attorney. When Bow offers the boy a summer apprenticeship in his orderly practice, it is an investment in a certain future, and the initiation of an oddly matched friendship. But when Ginger is accused of a startling crime that changes the town's perception of him, Bow is not only surprised, he’s also implicated, and forced to choose between his fierce sense of logic and his admiration for the boy.

The story unfolds as the first agonizing repercussions of the Vietnam War are being felt and the American people are struggling to comprehend a new kind of war. It inspires a startling division between the generations at home, as politics and personal lives inevitably collide.

Bow’s investigator, Charlie Stuart, narrates the events thirty years later, adding a perspective colored by tortured memories of his manic father and his halting pursuit of a young woman in town. Anchored by a compelling mystery, Bow’s Boy is ultimately about greatness, heroism, loyalty, and justice, and the pain and solace of family.
Pulitzer Prize nominee and author of The Feud, Thomas Berger displays his genre bending prowess once more in this mystery turned comedy, featuring unforgettable dialogue and an extremely fun cast of characters.

“Berger’s style, which is one of the great pleasures of the book, is something like S.J. Perelman’s—educated, complicated, graceful, silly, destructive in spirit and brilliant.” —Leonard Michaels, New York Times Book Review

Russel Wren is a man of big words, only trapped in a small living space.

An unlicensed private eye with an equally unlicensed handgun, Russel’s one big case away from becoming a household name and being able to pay his rent. Until then, our loquacious hero is content with blending his work life with his home life—mostly by living in his office.

Or, he was content, until a huge man looking for a Teddy Villanova arrived not just to threaten Russel and pummel him senseless, but to mysteriously reappear as a corpse mere hours later. To make matters more complicated, Russel finds a letter addressed to Teddy Villanova from a man named Donald Washburn II posing a threat to Villanova as serious as the beating Russel endured on his behalf.

When the police who finally arrive to investigate the corpse in Russel’s office instead threaten to pin the murder on him and offer him his second beating of the day, Russel is certain of two things: First, that those are not real cops and second: someone, somewhere, has made a horrible mistake. Russel doesn’t just dive into this mystery to save his own life, but to fulfill his far-off dream of living on more than instant noodles.
“The longtime chronicler of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula . . . gives eloquent expression to death and the grieving process.” —Booklist
 
Hailed by The New York Times Book Review as “a master . . . who makes the ordinary extraordinary, the unnamable unforgettable,” beloved author Jim Harrison returns with a masterpiece—a tender, profound, and magnificent novel about life, death, and finding redemption in unlikely places. Donald is a middle-aged Chippewa-Finnish man slowly dying of Lou Gehrig’s Disease. His condition deteriorating, he realizes no one will be able to pass on to his children their family history once he is gone. He begins dictating to his wife, Cynthia, stories he has never shared with anyone as around him, his family struggles to lay him to rest with the same dignity with which he has lived. Over the course of the year following Donald’s death, his daughter begins studying Chippewa ideas of death for clues about her father’s religion, while Cynthia, bereft of the family she created to escape the malevolent influence of her own father, finds that redeeming the past is not a lost cause. Returning to Earth is a deeply moving book about origins and endings, making sense of loss, and living with honor for the dead. It is among the finest novels of Harrison’s long, storied career, and confirms his standing as one of the most important American writers.
 
“A deeply felt meditation on life and death, nature and God, this is one of Harrison’s finest works.” —Library Journal
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