The Straw Men Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Straw Men

Former CIA operative Ward Hopkins is shocked to learn of the death of his parents in an apparent road traffic accident. When he discovers a hidden message left by his parents before their death, he begins to suspect foul play. Meanwhile, ex-homicide cop John Zandt is contacted by his former lover, FBI agent Nina Baynam, to help her investigate the disappearances of a series of teenage girls, apparently the work of the killer who calls himself "The Upright Man". The same man responsible for the disappearance of Zandt's own daughter, years previously. Ward's search for his parents' killer, and Zandt's investigation converge in a shocking denouement.
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The review of this Book prepared by Stephen Coombs

Jove, August 2002, 6.99, 400 pp.
ISBN 515134279

Ward Hopkins returns home to Dyserburg, Montana only to step into what seems like an episode of the Twilight Zone when he finds a book taped to the underside of a recliner. Contained inside the book is a note that states his parents aren't dead. Tearing the house apart, he stumbles upon a video showing his parents and two twins, one who they leave behind in a crowded area. Unable to believe his parents are capable of such an act, he along with his CIA friend Bobby discovers that there is no record of Ward's birth.

While Bobby and Ward seek the truth, a teenage girl is kidnapped in Santa Monica with the FBI believing they are once again dealing with the Upright Man serial killer. Former cop John Zandt and his friend FBI agent Nina look to find Sarah before she is killed like the three others before her. John and Nina cross paths with Bobby and Ward. They begin working together making the necessary connections to find the Upright Man and his supporters the Straw Men.

Eerie, gothic like suspense that has more realistic twists and turns than the world's most serpentine roller-coaster, THE STRAW MEN never slows the ride until even Yogi would agree it's over. From the very beginning readers connect with a befuddled Ward at a very fundamental level. Fans root for him and his cohorts to succeed in their interconnected missions that seem so hopeless. Michael Marshall's debut novel is a very special reading experience for crime thriller fans.

Harriet Klausner

The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner

Chapter Analysis of The Straw Men

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 25%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 30%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 25%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 20% Tone of story    -   scarey (primal ax-wielding fear)    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) How difficult to spot villain?    -   Very difficult--no foreshadowing/clues Time/era of story:    -   2000+ (Present) What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   50%    -   nearly 100% Misc. Murder Plotlets    -   local police w/ IQ of a houseplant    -   "All in the family" murder    -   Killer purposely leaves clues Kind of investigator    -   police procedural, American    -   skilled citizen investigator Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Any non-mystery subplot?    -   searching for missing person    -   feelings towards family/friends Crime Thriller    -   Yes Crime plotlets:    -   escape/rescue from kidnappers Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes General Crime (including known murderer)    -   Yes Who's the criminal enemy here?    -   militia/racists

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   unemployed    -   wealthy Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Race    -   White/American


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast    -   Midwest    -   West    -   California City?    -   Yes City:    -   Los Angeles

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment    -   very gorey descriptions deaths/dead bodies A lot of techno jargon?    -   Yes Kind of jargon?    -   electrical engineering Unusual forms of death    -   perforation--swords/knives    -   exploded into bits Unusual form of death?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   significantly more dialog than descript    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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