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  • Reviews for D.B. by Elwood Reid
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Reviews for D.B. by Elwood Reid
'In 1971, a man going by the name of DB Cooper hijacked a plane en route to Seattle. Threatening to blow it up if he didn't receive $200,000, he eventually parachuted from the plane with the money. Then he disappeared. Elwood Reid brings this true story to life in D.B., giving his protagonist an alternative identity as Phil Fitch, and intercutting his peripatetic existence with that of retiring FBI agent Frank Marshall, who has become embroiled in a colleague's determined efforts to track Cooper down. Elwood spins his story out to an extravagant length but his sharp prose is full of compensatory tension while also capturing the desultory sense of drift that defines his characters.' - Metro
'In 1971, a man calling himself Dan Cooper hijacked a Seattle-bound plane by claiming he had a bomb, got himself a ransom of $200,000 and a parachute without harming anyone or pulling a weapon, jumped out over Washington S tate woodland and disappeared. He was never found in spite of a massive manhunt. From this real-life scenario, Reid constructed an elegant fictional imagining. In his version, D.B. Cooper is a Vietnam vet leading a life of poverty and banality in a trailer, who believes he is destined for better things and decides to alter the course of his life with this one stunning escapade. He heads for Mexico, but after years of eventful exile makes a crucial mistake and returns to meet his nemesis. A taut work of fiction from a respected writer that unfolds like the best kind of road movie.' - Daily Mail

'Elwood Reid's D.B. is raunchy, seamy, cocksure, perversely juicy, so surprising in its vivid convolutions of plot and character that you keep turning back a few pages to see how the author is getting away with it. There's a dose of Raymond Chandler in Elwood Reid's lineage but his voice is fresh and unique.'

- Jim Harrison, author of 'Legends of the Fall'

'This hard-boiled literary page-turner cloaks a meditation on the "crime of crime"; the endless aftermath of its aftershocks, and the inevitable corruption of overheated, covetous yearning. From a lineage of Tom McGuane, Charles Portis, and Raymond Chandler, Elwood Reid ascends to the top of his generation with this novel. D.B. is brilliantly modulated between swagger and caress, moving and drop-dead funny. Read this book.'

- Mark Richard, author of 'Fishboy'

'Smart and direct prose … By shifting the reader's attention from the overtly dramatic to the psychological, Reid has written something much more engaging than the mere suspense novel D.B. might have been.'

- The New York Times Book Review
'The facts: In 1971 a man using the name D.B. Cooper hijacked a Boeing 727, ransoming $200,000 with only a note and a suitcase containing what appeared to be a bomb (a stewardess caught a quick glimpse of red cylinders and wires within it). The infamous D.B. Cooper escaped by parachuting at an altitude of 10,000 feet into a Thanksgiving eve storm without causing any fatalities or injuring any of the passengers or flight crew, and has never been heard of again and has become the subject of much conjecture, films and now a novel by Elwood Reid.
The fiction: Elwood Reid uses the bare bones of the cult crime of D.B. Cooper to construct a bizarre road trip for Vietnam vet, divorcé and drifter Phil Fitch, who decides to take the plunge and pull a once in a lifetime crime to escape his meaningless life and hop the boarder into Mexico with his small fortune in tow. Meanwhile, back in the states, recently retired and disgruntled FBI agent Frank Marshall dodges his wife's incessant henpecking and the boredom of his empty days by drinking, fishing and more drinking. Frank's days are haunted by the memories of an unsolved murder that he happened upon while searching the suspected drop-zone of daring D.B. Cooper and by vainly struggling to resist the charms of a female witness he has continued to 'look after' even after retiring. Despite his better judgement Frank gets persuaded to unofficially assist a young and eager FBI agent who has some fresh ideas on the old and apparently cold trail of a certain D.B. Cooper.
At first D.B. appears to be a fairly typical hard-boiled American crime novel that uses an unsolved real life case for its inspiration in the manner of James Ellroy. However as the novel progresses it becomes apparent that Elwood Reid has something altogether subtler in mind, as much of the novel concerns itself with following the parallel lives of Frank Marshall and Phil Fitch rather than a more predictable manhunt-style thriller that the novel seems to promise in its first few pages. Fitch, who soon drops his real name for his hijacking moniker Cooper, who finds the rambling memoirs containing information of a 'secret land' in Mexico and a beautiful hippy woman called Jane, decides to follow his heart, fleeing his deadbeat life in the states, and search for Jane and the 'Hidden Territories.' The novel tells of Cooper's random blunderings in Mexico from hippy communes to Mexican villages and betrayal, juxtaposed with Frank's post-retirement blues.
Cooper and Frank are different sides of the same coin. Cooper has drifted along the shady margins of the American dream; while Frank, who is fully immersed in suburban America, is equally dissatisfied with where he finds himself. Both have empty lives with little in the way of meaningful friendships or real happiness. While Cooper is prepared to throw his old life away for a dream and take a leap of faith, Frank, despite his unhappy marriage and his desire for the witness Anne, holds on tightly to the trappings of his life. Cooper is prepared to risk it all. Frank risks nothing. It has to be said that Cooper has a lot less to loose than Frank, still the parallel is very much relevant, as the lives of both protagonists are equally dictated by their circumstances rather than their own free will. Equally, while Cooper is ultimately self-absorbed, Frank cares about others. Putting their happiness above his own.
Elwood Reid's perspective on capitalism seems deliciously ambiguous. At first D.B. seems to be suggesting that money is the only means that a person can obtain the opportunity to escape the drudgery of everyday life, yet it is interesting to note that, despite the ransom, ultimately Cooper remains adrift. By cutting off his past Cooper has lost his roots, while Frank remains financially solvent, yet trapped in his unsatisfactory life. Just like life, no one wins.
While D.B. is not without faults, perhaps it looses its focus in the middle and perhaps it relies too heavily on an unlikely coincidence to tie its two story threads together, but nevertheless it is a very fine novel indeed. Perhaps it will leave those wanting a more traditional crime story feeling a little short changed. However for readers wanting something with hidden depth then they will struggle to find too many novels that can beat D.B. for its subtly intrigue and clever juxtaposition. A worthy read indeed.' - The English Assassin
'Masterfully told, D.B. ranks among the best and most entertaining books of the year.' - Pittsburgh Tribune

'The road trip of your dreams --- Hunter Thompson does the driving, but John Steinbeck holds the map.'

- Mark Costello, author of 'Big If'
'Thirty odd years ago, a man boarded a plane at Portland International airport and threatened to blow the aircraft up unless he was given $200,000 and two parachutes. The plane landed in Seattle and the cash and chutes loaded on board. The name on his ticket was D B Cooper. Over the forests of the Pacific Northwest he bailed out and was never seen again. That much is true fact; the rest of this novel is fictional "what if? " What if he was a Vietnam veteran caught in the downside of the American dream? Who knows? But it makes for a great read in the grand tradition of crazy American crime fiction. DB is a winner.' - Independent on Sunday

'Reid's imagination takes it from there, filling in Cooper's part, following him to Mexico and finally back to the U.S. through a country that still seems wide open, welcoming drifters. Without nostalgia, Reid recreates a freewheeling time when we called it the land, not the homeland, drove a van, not a minivan, and bypassed prescriptions. "What's in it? " Cooper asks his erstwhile road buddy, considering the spiked Tang. "Some spay/neuter cat knockout I got from my defrocked veterinarian friend, " Lou answers. "The Dex is to keep the arms and legs moving. Keep up appearances and all that. "

But "D.B. " is far more than a Hunter S. Thompson retread. Superb at depicting the rush, Reid is equally good at portraying the stall; the paralysis of suburbia, of the trailer park, 'the air filled with the jabber of daytime television and the distant drone of weed whips and lawn mowers.'

- Boston Globe

'Elwood Reid writes some of the nastiest, fiercest, funniest, edgiest sentences around, never a false move, and D.B. is one of the best novels I've encountered in who knows how long. The story takes you by the throat, true enough. But it's the prose that squeezes - Raymond Carver meets Graham Greene meets the blunt, masterful originality of Elwood Reid.'

- Tim O'Brien, author of 'The Things They Carry' and 'July, July'

'D.B. begins with a true story. In 1971, an unidentified man hijacked a plane in the US, received his ransom, and made his escape by parachute. His bloodless crime captured the imagination of the nation-but DB, as he became known, was never captured. To this day it remains the world's only unresolved hijacking. Reid imagines a fictional history for DB, showing us a man both before and after his big jump, who, through his wanderings around the U.S. and Mexico, via hippy colonies and people smugglers, seems to have only one main motive--a profound and entirely understandable determination to never again work for a living. At the same time, we follow the difficult life of an FBI agent who was peripherally involved in the hunt for DB and is on the verge of a much dreaded retirement. Will the paths of the two men ever cross? This is splendid writing. Quiet, direct and fully loaded.'

- Morning Star
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