Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday's Forgotten Books

“To diggers a thousand years from now, the works of John D. MacDonald would be a treasure on the order of the tomb of Tutankhamen." - KURT VONNEGUT

The Executioners, by the late and great John D MacDonald, author of 78 books, was originally published in 1957. In the 60s it was adapted into the movie Cape Fear, staring Gregory Peck. Scorsese did a darker and more brutal remake of it in the 90s with Robert DeNiro cast in the role of Max Caddy.

Cape Fear was a huge movie and anyone who's seen it knows the story and knows how frightening a character Caddy is. In the original story by MacDonald, Caddy is convicted on rape charges and sent to prison where he cultivates his hatred for Sam Bowden, the man he blames for his conviction. Unfortunately for Bowden and his innocent family, Caddy gets released from incarceration. And his only goal is to track down Bowden and make him pay.

The movie adaption diviates quite a bit from the original book. I found the movie a lot more suspenseful. And of course DiNiro's role was brilliant, so perhaps I'm a little biased having seen the movie first, but it's impossible not to compare the book with the movie. I like the premise of a psychotic homicidal stalker being pit against an innocent average family and the police can't do anything about it. It's this contrast that makes it so deliciously chilling.

The Executioners is without a doubt, a quick, fast-paced and unnerving read. And John D MacDonald is simply a supurb writer.

More of Friday's Forgotten books can be found at Patti Abbott's blog:


  1. One of my very favorite writers. I read almost all of those books.

  2. Still never read him. I should, I know.

  3. By me, the novel is VASTLY better than the films...the married couple taking the matter into their own hands, becoming (against their will) The Executioners, struck me as much more suspenseful than the approach of either film. I saw the movies first, too, but the novel knocked me for a loop...still my favorite of his.

  4. It was a great book Todd. As I say I'm probably bias, being in love with DeNiro and all, even as a bad guy. Gotta love those bad guys :) Patti, that's amazing that you read almost every one! I've read like two.

  5. Well, one of the good things about MacDonald's novels is that they sold so well that it's easy to find more, secondhand when not have plenty in store for you (I've read all the Travis McGee series and about a half-dozen others by JDM).

  6. This looks good, Julia. I've only ever seen the older film with Gregory Peck. It was pretty hairy. Polly Bergen (of all people) I think, played his wife.

    I thought I'd read this MacDonald, but now I realize it's the other one: Ross MacDonald, that I'm familiar with.