I really enjoyed reading this book.
Intense and very suspenseful. Will scare your socks off.
Suspensefull and somewhat gripping. Probably not comfortable for Nam vets to read. Straub has a peculiar flavor but it does not show too much here.
A powerful story about a group of Vietnam vets who are forced to confront the horrors and atrocities of their past. Peter Straub leaves the fantasy/horror genre behind with a more psychological thriller that has incredibly descriptive scenes and imagery of the Vietnam war, as well as 1980s Saigon, Bangkok, Singapore, and the gritty side of New York City.
Good serial killer thriller
A gripping crime/horror thriller about four Vietnam Vets, forced back together by a secret none of them ever wished to revisit, in order to track down a killer they fear may be a ghost.
ISBN 0451162145 - Tough book to review, but a pretty quick (not easy, just quick!) read, Koko is worth the time! I often feel like the number of typos that get through is a good indicator of how highly (or lowly) the book is seen by the publisher and Koko has a mere 6 in 595 pages - but two mistakes really bothered me. Early in the book, Conor's shirt has yellow letters and two pages later, the letters are orange; late in the book, Koko leaves a note which reads, in part, "I have no name" and is quoted two pages later as "I have no home". Petty? Sure - but I think most typos are due to poor proofreading and this type of thing is more likely the author's fault. I don't like simple continuity errors from an author like Straub, because I'm trusting him to write a complex story and if he can't keep simple things straight...
That said, Straub has done a great job with the big picture. In 1982, as Vietnam vets from all over the country flock to the new memorial wall in Washington, the killings begin - men are found dead, their heads mutilated, cards with "Koko" written on them in their mouths. Other than a small group of men who served together, no one has yet discovered that the killings are connected. Tina Pumo, Conor Linklater, Michael Poole and their rather aptly named former Lt. Harry Beevers gather in Washington for the memorial's opening and Harry proposes that they find the killer, because they all know his identity. Despite Harry's disturbing stance that they can make some money from this, the men agree to join him. Pumo remains in New York while the others return to Vietnam and set out to find Tim Underhill, a former member of their platoon and a crazed author who chose not to come home when the war ended.
The backstory is filled in, slowly, with flashbacks to the moment and place of Koko's creation - a cave in a small village in Vietnam, Ia Thuc. The atrocities of that day haunt all the men but none more than Koko, who has set out in his own way to right the wrongs they committed. This puts Linklater, Poole, Beevers and Pumo at the top of his hit list and they have to find him before he finds them.
One reviewer commented that he wanted to know what happened in the cave. The book does state what happened, but in tiny stages. The worst of it doesn't come out until very nearly the end of the book, as Harry's and Koko's paths begin to merge. How each of them perceives what happened is, ultimately, the reason for Koko's existence, so revealing it from the beginning would have detracted from the horror of it, making it seem not so much the sort of thing that would haunt men for over a decade. I, for one, also appreciated the way it was done because, really, the graphic details would have made the book too pornographic and far less worth reading.
In the end, the thing that makes this book a worthwhile read is the characters. Almost no one is who they seemed to be in the beginning, but the change in your perception isn't some abrupt thing forced on you by bad writing. It happens slowly, as one layer after another reveals clearly what you feel like you should have seen all along. Can you guess early on who the killer is? Sure, you CAN - there's even a giveaway on the back cover, where it mentions that one of the men searching for Koko is an writer - but don't bother. It isn't really about who - it's about why. And if the ending seems incomplete, and it does, it makes sense, too. Not just from the "setting it up for another book" standpoint, either. The man who became Koko died in Ia Thuc, and there is no fair and just punishment for him that he hasn't already suffered. Still, the only thing that keeps me from giving this book 5 stars is the sense that the open-ended ending was more to lead into the next book than anything else.
Among the things that stuck with me that had nothing to do with the story itself, Beevers (in 1982 in the story and 1988 when it was written) thinks of New York as "ground zero", no caps, no foretelling, just an interesting note. The mention of D.B. Cooper was a nice touch, as are the frequent mentions of other authors and books, including Blue Rose (ISBN 0887330053, 0146001079, and ASIN B000LUT5VO) copyright 1985 by Straub himself but attributed to Tim Underhill in the book. Superbly written, and worth all 595 pages!
FROM THE PUBLISHER
Only four men knew what it meant.
Vietnam vets. One was a doctor. One was a lawyer. One was a working stiff. One was a writer. All were as different as men could be----yet all were bound eternally together by a single shattering secret.
And now they joined together again on a quest that could take them from the graveyard and fleshpots of the Far East to the human jungle of New York.....hunting an inhuman ghost of the past risen from nightmare darkeness to kill and kill and kill.......
Vietnam vets. One was a doctor. One was a lawyer. One was a working stiff. One was a writer. All were as different as men could be, yet all were bound eternally together by a single shattering secret. And now they joined together again on a quest that could take them from the graveyards and fleshpots of the Far East to the human jungle of New York, hunting an inhuman ghost of the past risen from nightmare darkness to kill and kill and kill.
Horror- Vietnam vets hunting "...an inhuman ghost of the past..."
Only 4 men knew what KOKO meant. Vietnam vets. One was a doctor. One was a lawyer. One was a working stiff. One was a writer. All were as different as men could be-yet all were bound eternally together by a single shattering secret. And now they joined together again on a quest that could take them from the graveyards and fleshpots of the far east to the human jungle of New York...hunting an inhuman ghost of the past risen from nightmare darkness to kill and kill and kill...
"Complexly plotted, thickly layered evil . . . the ultimate horror!"--The New York Times Book Review
"A dead center hit . . . Koko grabs us . . . a gripping, enthralling, non-stop read!" San Francisco Chronicle
An engaging thriller, one of Peter Straub's better works.
This book was good. Deep & disturbing at times. It's about a group of men who served in the Vietnam War, how the war shaped them into who they are now, what they were before the war..why people act as they do.