The Ax Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Ax

Burke Devore is an average man. Married with one child, he's been unemployed for two years, the victim of the downsizing that raises the stock value for shareholders of the paper plant he used to work at.
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He's gone to interviews, sent resumes, but he's come to a conclusion. The competition is getting in his way. He needs to eliminate the competition. With despair and rage pounding at his soul he puts together a meticulous plan that gives him the exact locations of the other people gunning for his position, and with grim determination he goes about taking them out of his way, once and for all.

He's repulsed at first, but it gets easier with each one, and as the body count rises and unexpected complications develop can Burke keep the deadly secrets inside him from his suspecting wife and the police?
The review of this Book prepared by Melvin Cartagena

Burke Devore was downsized from his middle management position with a paper manufacturing company in Connecticut almost two years before. In his desperation to earn a living he has devised a novel approach to getting a leg up on the competition in the pursuit of a job in his field of expertise. Devore has taken out ads in a trade publication for the type of position he is seeking and as the most qualified candidates respond with resumes he drives to their homes, sometimes several hours away in neighboring states, and kills them.

Devore is a married family man but lately his family has been victimized by his extended period of unemployment. His wife Marjorie announces she wants them to seek counseling for the extramarital affair she is having and their teenaged son Billy is arrested for burglarizing and stealing from a local computer software store.

As his whole world is spiraling out of control around him Devore methodically snuffs out his industry rivals and the current jobholder of his ideal position with Arcadia Paper, Upton ‘Ralph' Fallon. His method of killing varies (never with an ax despite the title) and though meticulously planned several of his crimes go awry. He is visited by Detective Burton who is investigating the bizarre and seemingly random murders that have taken place in Connecticut with victims having an employment history in paper processing as their only connection. No link is made to the killings he has committed in New York or Massachusetts. Although riddled with guilt and remorse Devore carries out his plan to the end and anxiously awaits the call from Arcadia to fill their newly vacant position. Throughout the novel Devore ironically talks about the immorality of corporate downsizing, the squeeze on the middle class, and survivorship.
The review of this Book prepared by David Fletcher

Chapter Analysis of The Ax

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 40%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 30%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 20%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 10% Tone of story    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) Time/era of story:    -   1980's-1999 The crook is....    -   stalking/killing innocents Crime Thriller    -   Yes Is MAIN CHARACTER an EVIL criminal?    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   unemployed Age:    -   40's-50's Ethnicity/Race    -   White/American


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast Small town?    -   Yes Small town people:    -   nice, like Andy/Opie/Aunt Bee Misc setting    -   resort/hotel

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths    -   very gorey references to deaths/dead bodies and torture Explicit sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   descript of kissing Unusual forms of death    -   run over Unusual form of death?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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Donald E. Westlake Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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