Jack Of Spades

Jack of SpadesJack Of Spades by Joyce Carol Oates
Published by Mysterious Press
Published 5 May 2015
224 pages

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I plan to read 12 JCO novels this year, one a month. This was my choice for January.


From Joyce Carol Oates, an exquisite, psychologically complex thriller about opposing forces within the mind of one ambitious writer and the delicate line between genius and madness.

Andrew J. Rush has achieved the kind of critical and commercial success most authors only dream about: He has a top agent and publisher in New York, and his twenty-eight mystery novels have sold millions of copies. Only Stephen King, one of the few mystery writers whose fame exceeds his own, is capable of inspiring a twinge of envy in Rush. But Rush is hiding a dark secret. Under the pseudonym “Jack of Spades,” he pens another string of novels—noir thrillers that are violent, lurid, masochistic. These are novels that the upstanding Rush wouldn’t be caught reading, let alone writing. When his daughter comes across a Jack of Spades novel he has carelessly left out, she picks it up and begins to ask questions. Meanwhile, Rush receives a court summons in the mail explaining that a local woman has accused him of plagiarizing her own self-published fiction. Before long, Rush’s reputation, career, and family life all come under threat—and in his mind he begins to hear the taunting voice of the Jack of Spades.


 Out of the air, the axe.


Jack of Spades is twisted and brilliant. The book is quite dark, especially towards the end. This is an example of how great JCO can be when she pulls all the stops out. This short novel is very intense at time especially when Andrew’s mind starts to unravel. My favourite scene is when he sneaks into the house of the women who tried to sue him. This triggers an obsession with her which is quite creepy. This short novel is packed with atmosphere and suspense. I really like the way Jack of Spades is paced. The pace is quite slow at first, lulling you into false sense of security until things start to get quite gruesome and the race fairly rattles along. I thought Jack of Spades was great.




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