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Set in contemporary Northern California, The Harder They Come explores the volatile connections between three damaged people - an aging ex-marine and Vietnam veteran, his psychologically unstable son, and the son's paranoid, much older lover - as they careen toward an explosive confrontation.
On a vacation cruise to Central America with his wife, 70-year-old Sten Stensen unflinchingly kills a gun-wielding robber menacing a busload of senior tourists. The reluctant hero is relieved to return home to Fort Bragg, California, after the ordeal - only to find that his delusional son, Adam, has spiraled out of control.
Adam has become involved with Sara Hovarty Jennings, a hardened member of the Sovereign Citizens' Movement, right-wing anarchists who refuse to acknowledge the laws and regulations of the state, considering them to be false and nonapplicable. Adam's senior by some 15 years, Sara becomes his protector and inamorata. As Adam's mental state fractures, he becomes increasingly schizophrenic - a breakdown that leads him to shoot two people in separate instances. On the run, he takes to the woods, spurring the biggest manhunt in California history.
As he explores a father's legacy of violence and his powerlessness in relating to his equally violent son, T. C. Boyle offers unparalleled psychological insights into the American psyche. Inspired by a true story, The Harder They Come is a devastating and indelible novel from a modern master.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Bonny on 04-10-15
Intense, gripping, absorbing
This is one of those books that grabs you and doesn't let go. It's close to a thriller, a fast-moving meditation on the theme of social and personal alienation. The three main characters: a 70-year-old recently-retired Vietnam vet, his disturbed son, and his son's older lover, a far-right woman who denies the legitimacy of state and federal government. Each is experiencing profound alienation, and their actions in response propel the plot. The writing is excellent, the story is involving, and the narration is well done. It's not going to make you feel much better about humanity, but it's well worth the listen.
32 of 34 people found this review helpful
By Sharon on 05-25-15
Based on a true story
I live in Northern California where the events that this book is based on played out. It was a scary situation and the local media could focus on nothing else at the time. I am a T.C. Boyle fan, and familiar with the story, but I thought I would pass on this book. I was tempted though, so listened to the sample, at which point I became hooked!
This book is a very good read from page one through the finish. The story pulls you right in and never lets you go. Graham Hamilton does a great job of narrating. This is T.C. Boyle's 25th book, and I hope he keeps right on writing. He is a master.
38 of 42 people found this review helpful