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A Conspiracy of Tall Men

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Linus Owen is a young professor of conspiracy theory at a small college just outside San Francisco. He teaches graduate-level classes on JFK and gives seminars on magic-bullet theories and how the symbols on the dollar bill reveal the presence of a secret government that is leading the world to ruin. Linus' marriage is foundering and his wife, Claudia, an up-and-coming ad Linus Owen is a young professor of conspiracy theory at a small college just outside San Francisco. He teaches graduate-level classes on JFK and gives seminars on magic-bullet theories and how the symbols on the dollar bill reveal the presence of a secret government that is leading the world to ruin. Linus' marriage is foundering and his wife, Claudia, an up-and-coming advertising executive, has gone to Chicago to visit her mother. But if Claudia is in Chicago, how is it that two FBI agents show up at Linus' office and inform him that Claudia has been killed in a plane crash on her way from New York to Brazil? And why did a man named Jeffrey Holden, the vice president of a major pharmaceutical company, buy her ticket and die beside her? Enlisting the aid of Edward and Roy -- his friends and fellow conspiracy theorists -- Linus heads across the country in search of answers. Along the way, the trio encounters a legion of disturbing and provocative characters and clues, including an irascible talk show host, a mind-controlling drug, and art emerging link between Claudia's ad agency and the U.S, Government. As their journey progresses, it becomes frighteningly clear they've left the realm of the academic and are tangled up in a dangerous, multilayered cover-up. Finally, deep in the heart of the American desert, stunned by an ominous revelation, Linus sees he has a new minion: to try to stay alive. With writing that is electric, whip-smart and suspenseful at each turn, Noah Hawley draws us into a deliciously labyrinthine world of paranoia and plots.


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Linus Owen is a young professor of conspiracy theory at a small college just outside San Francisco. He teaches graduate-level classes on JFK and gives seminars on magic-bullet theories and how the symbols on the dollar bill reveal the presence of a secret government that is leading the world to ruin. Linus' marriage is foundering and his wife, Claudia, an up-and-coming ad Linus Owen is a young professor of conspiracy theory at a small college just outside San Francisco. He teaches graduate-level classes on JFK and gives seminars on magic-bullet theories and how the symbols on the dollar bill reveal the presence of a secret government that is leading the world to ruin. Linus' marriage is foundering and his wife, Claudia, an up-and-coming advertising executive, has gone to Chicago to visit her mother. But if Claudia is in Chicago, how is it that two FBI agents show up at Linus' office and inform him that Claudia has been killed in a plane crash on her way from New York to Brazil? And why did a man named Jeffrey Holden, the vice president of a major pharmaceutical company, buy her ticket and die beside her? Enlisting the aid of Edward and Roy -- his friends and fellow conspiracy theorists -- Linus heads across the country in search of answers. Along the way, the trio encounters a legion of disturbing and provocative characters and clues, including an irascible talk show host, a mind-controlling drug, and art emerging link between Claudia's ad agency and the U.S, Government. As their journey progresses, it becomes frighteningly clear they've left the realm of the academic and are tangled up in a dangerous, multilayered cover-up. Finally, deep in the heart of the American desert, stunned by an ominous revelation, Linus sees he has a new minion: to try to stay alive. With writing that is electric, whip-smart and suspenseful at each turn, Noah Hawley draws us into a deliciously labyrinthine world of paranoia and plots.

30 review for A Conspiracy of Tall Men

  1. 5 out of 5

    Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede

    Before the Fall is a great book, so I was really looking forward to reading A Conspiracy of Tall Men. However, this book, well, to be honest, I couldn't finish it. Why? Let me explain: I would say that there is 25% story and the rest of the book is filler, details, unnecessary information about characters, both main and those that just show up pretty much to do a cameo. Let me give you an example: Linus, our hero in this book, meets a woman in this book and the book goes into detail about her pe Before the Fall is a great book, so I was really looking forward to reading A Conspiracy of Tall Men. However, this book, well, to be honest, I couldn't finish it. Why? Let me explain: I would say that there is 25% story and the rest of the book is filler, details, unnecessary information about characters, both main and those that just show up pretty much to do a cameo. Let me give you an example: Linus, our hero in this book, meets a woman in this book and the book goes into detail about her personal life. Why? She has no large part. I do not need to know that she is single and that she likes machines more than humans. All this information dump make my head tired... Then we have Linus and his two conspiracy friends. Sorry, but they are boring, yes you get A LOT of facts about them (just like everyone and everything else), but that doesn't make them interesting. I'm honestly surprised that Linus managed to find himself a wife in the first place... I gave up, I just couldn't get myself to finish the book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sally Cartwright

    I was quite enjoying this book due to it being an unusual topic: Consoiravy theories are not normally my thing. However despite some good plot twists the ending was very unsatisying - I didn't realise it even was the ending until I turned the page. Disappointing for this reason. Not sure I'd rush to read another....

  3. 4 out of 5

    Pop Bop

    A Well Written, Entertaining, Twisty Conspiracy Thriller So, I picked this up in a remainder bin and, before even starting to read it I looked at a few reviews. According to a bunch of them the book is overwritten, padded, wandering, and not nearly as good as the author's later published "Before the Fall". I was tempted to give the book a miss, except that the first page was so clever, deadpan edgy, and assured I had to keep going. Very glad I did. This is the same sort of paranoid, creepy, over t A Well Written, Entertaining, Twisty Conspiracy Thriller So, I picked this up in a remainder bin and, before even starting to read it I looked at a few reviews. According to a bunch of them the book is overwritten, padded, wandering, and not nearly as good as the author's later published "Before the Fall". I was tempted to give the book a miss, except that the first page was so clever, deadpan edgy, and assured I had to keep going. Very glad I did. This is the same sort of paranoid, creepy, over the top, goofy plausible, earnest silly global/government conspiracy you get from the X-Files' brilliant spinoff - The Lone Gunmen. By coincidence, (or maybe not?), there were three members of The Lone Gunmen and in this book there are three conspiracy hunting friends who track down the answers to the mystery. Every character in the book is a part of some conspiracy; every one is leading a double or triple life; everything is corrupt; everyone is being surveilled, taped, photographed, followed, observed, and recorded. It is an absolute cavalcade of conspiracy goodness. But the best part is that it is exceptionally well written. And it is not an ironic mockery of the genre; it plays fair and goes all in on the conspiracy angle. The protagonist, Linus, is a professional conspiracy theorist and his earnest belief in all things conspiratorial pulls the reader along. His vindication, that the conspiracies are real and that the paranoiacs are on to something, is treated with enough grave seriousness that the whole book works in its own fashion. And along the way we get some funny one-liners, a fair amount of noir tough guy talk, (apparently, all covert interrogators are really, secretly, deadpan comics), and some elegant and clever turns of phrase, set pieces, and throwaway observations. Some complain about too many digressions, but when those digressions are sharp and entertaining I'm O.K. with that. Here are a few cool lines, chosen more or less at random - "Los Angeles is a city that appears to have been built to satisfy somebody's desire for a cigarette." Or, "[the Los Angeles Airport]... is a country with a population of zero but an immigration problem of obscene proportions...". I'm sorry but I just love that kind of tough/dry/elegant stuff. So, sure, it's an over the top conspiracy thriller. But sometimes you want to read an over the top conspiracy thriller. And this one is so well written that it is head and shoulders above the usual big name author "commercial" fare. I count it a real find.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Basney

    A first book, written about 10 years ago, and republished after last year’s excellent Before the Fall. A disservice to everyone.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    This made no sense to me, what did I read? Reissuing this was a mistake.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Joe Kucharski

    Author/Creator/Director Noah Hawley. You know him. You dig him. From the trippy, mind-sprawling chaos of FX’s Legion to the Coen Bros-cool re-imagining of Fargo, Hawley gets deep, he gets fun, he gets weird. Following the success from his latest novel, Before The Fall, Grand Central Publishing reissued Hawley’s debut novel, A Conspiracy Of Tall Men. And man, this reads like a debut novel. Tall Men features Linus Owen, a conspiracy theory teacher who finds himself hit with two hard truths: his wif Author/Creator/Director Noah Hawley. You know him. You dig him. From the trippy, mind-sprawling chaos of FX’s Legion to the Coen Bros-cool re-imagining of Fargo, Hawley gets deep, he gets fun, he gets weird. Following the success from his latest novel, Before The Fall, Grand Central Publishing reissued Hawley’s debut novel, A Conspiracy Of Tall Men. And man, this reads like a debut novel. Tall Men features Linus Owen, a conspiracy theory teacher who finds himself hit with two hard truths: his wife has been having an affair, and now she’s dead. After a lifetime of living under the gun of suspicion, Linus goes looking for real answers and maybe the meaning of life. In a dazed trek across America worthy of Hunter S. Thompson, Linus seeks out an incendiary radio talk-show host, raids a big-time pharma company, is interrogated by the CIA, and comes to realize those two initial truths might be lies. The novel, like with many debuts, starts off strong with jazzy concepts and sarcastic bites. Yet, Hawley’s deep dive into the insane grows awkward. Some of the head scratching comes not with the narrative, but the poor grammar, the confusing spans of dialogue, and a ton of sentences that nerve-rackingly begin with “it.” Eventually, Linus’ paranoia become outright silly. The deeper the conspiracies go, the less X-Files hip the read becomes as the unglamorous quickly becomes bizarre. Hawley serves up a number of clever observations and uniquely provides background on his characters, granting even minor ones weight. Doing such, though, creates bloat. Like the conspiracies that Linus weaves out of echoes, the novel has too many false starts, too many feints, and a rushed finale. Unless that was the plan, man. The United States Corporation wants you to think this is all too silly. Right? Nope. The read was silly, confusing, and overly long. Thanks to Goodreads and Grand Central Publishing for the giveaway. I’m still a Noah Hawley fan and continue looking forward to his new seasons of Fargo and Legion. Check out my Read @ Joe's site for this review and much more!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Roger

    Noah Hawley's A CONSPIRACY OF TALL MEN is intensely quirky, sometimes dense, and well-written throughout. Where else can you find a better description of Las Vegas than "as tacky as 1975"? The clever observations keep you reading but still the book seems overly long. Perhaps the protagonist, Linus Owen, is not enough to carry the storytelling burden over time. He is a unique character, not an especially likeable one. More probably, the multiple omnipresent conspiracies are too much. First off, co Noah Hawley's A CONSPIRACY OF TALL MEN is intensely quirky, sometimes dense, and well-written throughout. Where else can you find a better description of Las Vegas than "as tacky as 1975"? The clever observations keep you reading but still the book seems overly long. Perhaps the protagonist, Linus Owen, is not enough to carry the storytelling burden over time. He is a unique character, not an especially likeable one. More probably, the multiple omnipresent conspiracies are too much. First off, conspiracies are typically fantasy because it is unlikely any group of people can keep secrets for any length of time. That lessens the urgency of the conspiracies introduced in A CONSPIRACY OF TALL MEN. They simply seem dubious. Second, if we accept the existence of the suggested conspiracies, all-seeing plans perpetuated by layer upon layer of powerful men, then it is improbable that someone as ineffectual as Linus Owen could unravel the schemes. The book is set in the 1990s, a time of pay phones, VCRs and 1-900 sex lines that seems long ago but isn't really so. The action takes place as the information age is developing, as the internet and computer technology is emerging full force into everyday life. Whatever credence there is to the fight for truth conducted by Linus, Edward, and Roy in this book, it comes from the democratization of information created by the new technologies. Noah Hawley is the showrunner for the FARGO television series, a project that leaves indelible memories with the viewer. This novel is a worthwhile read, but not memorable. In retrospect I should have started with one of Hawley's other books, probably BEFORE THE FALL, which won an Edgar Award for Best Mystery in 2017. Finally, there are a few bits in this book that leave me scratching my head. Are they "Easter eggs" or simply evidence of poor proofreading? One example is an early reference to the Apollo moon landing of 1967. Another occurs much later in the book, when John Glenn is identified as coming from Arizona. Black helicopters, Ruby Ridge and Waco too. The Clintons to boot.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Danita L

    A Conspiracy of Tall Men was re-issued after the success of Before the Fall and should have just stayed in the background back in 1998. Although the book started wonderfully, with a secondary cast of Roy and Edward that was hilarious, it meandered off with over-lengthy descriptions that seemed to have no other purpose other than to create more pages. The tight paragraphs of Before the Fall were gone and boring sequences became the norm. Sometimes when a reader takes on an older published book by A Conspiracy of Tall Men was re-issued after the success of Before the Fall and should have just stayed in the background back in 1998. Although the book started wonderfully, with a secondary cast of Roy and Edward that was hilarious, it meandered off with over-lengthy descriptions that seemed to have no other purpose other than to create more pages. The tight paragraphs of Before the Fall were gone and boring sequences became the norm. Sometimes when a reader takes on an older published book by an author, you are delightfully surprised. Not so in this case. It didn't get to the "I wish I hadn't read it" stage as Hawley did show the sparks of a good writer that would appear in his later works but I could not in good conscience recommend this book to anyone.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tobin Elliott

    I quite enjoyed Hawley's Before the Fall and was rather caught by surprise by the horrifyingly negative reviews of this one. Oh, come on! I thought. The guy did a damn good job with that last book. How bad can this really be? As bad as everyone's saying, it turns out. The biggest complaints I read were the gratuitous diving into unimportant, bottom-level characters that may only be in a single scene, never to be seen again. I'm here to tell you, I didn't think it could possibly be as bad as all tha I quite enjoyed Hawley's Before the Fall and was rather caught by surprise by the horrifyingly negative reviews of this one. Oh, come on! I thought. The guy did a damn good job with that last book. How bad can this really be? As bad as everyone's saying, it turns out. The biggest complaints I read were the gratuitous diving into unimportant, bottom-level characters that may only be in a single scene, never to be seen again. I'm here to tell you, I didn't think it could possibly be as bad as all that, but it really is. You get an agent who asks a couple of questions, but a couple of paragraphs of history dating back to childhood. You gotta ask why? It just feels like padding. And it consistently and constantly yanked me right out of the very thin story. Until the one time I got yanked out so hard, I simply couldn't be bothered to dive back in again. Fuck that. Life's too short to read shit books. I'm tapping out less than a quarter of the way in. Lesson learned. If there's almost two decades between books, there's likely a reason.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Darlene

    An interesting book about government conspiracies. Although I enjoyed Noahs first book more than this Book, this book takes a look at some very plausible conspiracy plots and gives your mind a work out absorbing these theories. Is our government really watching out for best interests or is there something sinister going on. Who do we trust and who do we believe? When the book ends I'm not sure if we are to make our own ending or if there will be s sequel. I suggest when you read this book, go in An interesting book about government conspiracies. Although I enjoyed Noahs first book more than this Book, this book takes a look at some very plausible conspiracy plots and gives your mind a work out absorbing these theories. Is our government really watching out for best interests or is there something sinister going on. Who do we trust and who do we believe? When the book ends I'm not sure if we are to make our own ending or if there will be s sequel. I suggest when you read this book, go in to it with a very open mind.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Petersen

    Noah Hawley seems to be much less interested in story in this book than he is in ideas and the characters that both hold and embody them. It's fitting that the main character is just this sort of person -- more interested in ideas than action. In a way, the trajectory of the book follows this characters shift from passivity to action. In general, it would be a fair accusation to say this book is a little indulgent. Noah Hawley is not taking good care of his readers with the kind of liberties he Noah Hawley seems to be much less interested in story in this book than he is in ideas and the characters that both hold and embody them. It's fitting that the main character is just this sort of person -- more interested in ideas than action. In a way, the trajectory of the book follows this characters shift from passivity to action. In general, it would be a fair accusation to say this book is a little indulgent. Noah Hawley is not taking good care of his readers with the kind of liberties he clearly enjoys in this novel. That said, I love the way Hawley's brain works. His prose is beautiful, sometimes transcendent. He has an uncanny ability to establish place, tone, and texture with a creative efficiency I find downright enviable. The way this book is written is further proof that he's found his calling in the world of television, where his mind for details can reach it's full potential.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    Loved Before the Fall, but apparently this was written years before and I can only think it was published because of the Hawley's success with Before the Fall and his tv shows. Not worthy of his later works.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Clark

    When you read a book by Noah Hawley, you have to be prepared for his unusual view of the world around us, which is bluntly honest with tough-in-cheek. For example, his description of Los Angeles: "Los Angeles is a city that appears to have been built to satisfy somebody's desire for a cigarette." Or, the Los Angeles airport: "It is an airport like all others, an automated conspiracy of moving floors and revolving luggage, where desperate clots of bodies in wrinkled clothing struggle to break out, When you read a book by Noah Hawley, you have to be prepared for his unusual view of the world around us, which is bluntly honest with tough-in-cheek. For example, his description of Los Angeles: "Los Angeles is a city that appears to have been built to satisfy somebody's desire for a cigarette." Or, the Los Angeles airport: "It is an airport like all others, an automated conspiracy of moving floors and revolving luggage, where desperate clots of bodies in wrinkled clothing struggle to break out, fighting their way through crowds of suitcase-laden optimists grappling to break in."

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    Even though this book is 20 years old, it seems totally up to date. Hawley is quite good at this type of fiction, the style of which seems to have translated well into tv series for him.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jan Wylde

    Boy oh boy. Reading the other reviews (lower ratings) and still will keep my 5 stars. This book kept me up late at night and I did not wish to put it down. Even liked the ending!!! The writing is clever, complete and such a good character study. It's very creative. Anyone wish to bet this is gonna be a good movie?! Even daydreamed about who would play Linus and the nerdy buddies - ohhhh, so much fun!!! Oh, Mr Noah?! How about a sequel? Thank you so much for the entertainment!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Noah Hawley is one of my new favorite authors. And this is my third book of his that I have read. The first two were so much better than this one. Although it is evident here that he is a talented writer, his later offerings are so much more finely crafted. Here he tells a good story, but, at times, I felt so bogged down in minute details that I found it hard to continue. I kept losing interest. I believe that this was his first novel. It is a good point to know that he continues to improve.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Frances

    I had forgotten that I even had this book; but discovered it when I was adding Hawley's Before the Fall to my card catalog last year. This book was published in 1998 and is very much a first book, but quite fun. The central character, Linus, is a professor of conspiracy theories at a small college in San Rafael. It is very reminiscent of the X-Files and the Lone Gunmen, which I was very much in-to in 1998 also.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Kramer

    A debut novel, this story is terrific as is the word smith abilities of the author. I couldn't put it down finishing the book in a matter of days. Great characters, subplots and twists and nicely paced too. In some ways it reminded me of the Mel Gibson/Julia Roberts movie minus the wacko character Mel plays. Good stuff all the way to the end

  19. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

    This is literally, hands down, my favorite book of all time. The first novel written by Hawley, his characters are flawed and endearing, and the story constantly keeps you guessing. A brilliant brilliant book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    I’ve always been a bit paranoid, much in part to several viewings of “All The President’s Men” and “JFK” as an impressionable teenager, and several marijuana-influenced situations I wound up in during my experimental 20’s (*cough* and beyond). I often found myself questioning what seemed to be airtight scenarios, or creating alternate versions of them, not to mention convince myself that I was being monitored in some way, shape or form (and this was long before the whole Facebook data scandal). I’ve always been a bit paranoid, much in part to several viewings of “All The President’s Men” and “JFK” as an impressionable teenager, and several marijuana-influenced situations I wound up in during my experimental 20’s (*cough* and beyond). I often found myself questioning what seemed to be airtight scenarios, or creating alternate versions of them, not to mention convince myself that I was being monitored in some way, shape or form (and this was long before the whole Facebook data scandal). That said I never imagined one could make a career of it – better still, as a conspiracy theorist – without ending up in the middle of nowhere in Montana, dressed in a hoodie and aviators, scribing a senseless manifesto. Linus Owen, the central figure of Noah Hawley’s debut, A Conspiracy of Tall Men, is the exception to my own theory, a man who has somehow twisted his hobby into a professorship. That’s not saying he’s far off from becoming the next Unabomber, though that’s neither here nor there when it comes to the plot that drives Hawley’s thriller. Linus is in midst of a near-failed marriage; his wife, Claudia, has jettisoned to New York for work (she’s an ambitious ad exec), extending her trip to visit her mother in Chicago. Or so Linus thinks. Two FBI agents show up at the small college where Linus teaches, informing him that Claudia has been killed in a plane crash on a flight from New York to Brazil. What’s more, she was flying alongside a man named Jeffrey Holden; Linus learns this is not only the client to which Claudia works for, but that he purchased her ticket. Were they having an affair? Were they fleeing the country? As is his nature, Linus questions everything; soon he is coming up with conspiracy theories of his own to solve his wife’s murder. The remainder of A Conspiracy of Tall Men follows Linus’s journey, replete with an estranged family member (his religious, arrogant, investment banker brother Ford), a drug addicted federal agent (Forbes), comedic foil fellow theorists (Roy & Edward), and a faction of insane genius anarchists (the group Danton, made up of Porter and the Unabomber-esque Preston). The plot itself is compelling, a twisting and turning roller coaster of suspense much like Hawley’s subsequent efforts. Where it stumbles, however, is in its character development; overdevelopment would be more accurate. Too often does Hawley overwrite his ensemble, offering meandering passages on each of his cast members’ backgrounds that provide little more than fodder. It’s a common trait of first novels, one that’s easily fixable, and one that Hawley most certainly has improved upon (Before the Fall, for instance, is near-perfect). If anything, A Conspiracy of Tall Men is a promising snapshot of what’s to come.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Janie Hickok Siess

    It's the end of the 20th century and Y2K is fast approaching. Linus Owen, a young professor of conspiracy theory at a small college just outside San Francisco, and his wife, Claudia, an advertising executive, live in nearby San Rafael. Linus believes that his is a happy marriage and when Claudia goes to Chicago for a few days to visit her mother, he is not suspicious. Until, that is, two FBI agents arrive at his office with news. Claudia has been killed. A plane bound from NYC to Brazil exploded It's the end of the 20th century and Y2K is fast approaching. Linus Owen, a young professor of conspiracy theory at a small college just outside San Francisco, and his wife, Claudia, an advertising executive, live in nearby San Rafael. Linus believes that his is a happy marriage and when Claudia goes to Chicago for a few days to visit her mother, he is not suspicious. Until, that is, two FBI agents arrive at his office with news. Claudia has been killed. A plane bound from NYC to Brazil exploded, killing all on board. They insist that Claudia was on the plane with a man named Jeffrey Holden and Linus must accompany them to Florida to identify her body. Holden was the vice president of a pharmaceutical company. So begins a fast-paced adventure with quirky Linus to discover what really happened to Claudia -- Why was she in NYC, much less on a plane headed for Brazil? What was the nature of her relationship with Holden? Who would want to blow up the plane -- and why? Linus's two bestimmplifriends are eccentric fellow conspiracy theorists, Edward and Roy. They spring into action to assist Linus, and the three men find themselves embroiled in a mystery involving several agencies of the U.S. government, as well as a cast of supporting characters -- some nefarious -- each of whom holds a piece of the puzzle. Their journey takes them into the Southwest desert regions in search of a mysterious fringe group led by a former radio talk show host who disappeared years ago, as well as isolated regions of Nevada where locals are mysteriously disappearing and turning up dead. Linus knows that he is not crazy -- he has stumbled onto a conspiracy in which officials at the highest levels of government and industry are implicated, but he has to stay alive long enough to gather and publicize the details. The result is an epic, breakneck-paced journey for all three men that will keep readers guessing until the final shockingly dramatic page! And leads readers wondering whether Hawley's plot could be real. Although the story is set nearly a decade ago, it is no less relevant now than it was then. In fact, in light of current events, including headlines about foreign government cyber hacks, it is arguably more alarming -- and entertaining. Thanks to NetGalley for an Advance Reader's Copy of the book!

  22. 5 out of 5

    S. Wilson

    An amusing and thought-provoking novel about a professor of conspiracy theory who gets the chance to place his academic knowledge into practice when the reported death of his wife on a bombed plane to Brazil thrusts him into a cat-and-mouse game with government agencies and corporate espionage as he attempts to track down the people responsible. Noah Hawley manages to capture the inherent humor in the realm of conspiracy theories while simultaneously exposing the serious realities behind them. A An amusing and thought-provoking novel about a professor of conspiracy theory who gets the chance to place his academic knowledge into practice when the reported death of his wife on a bombed plane to Brazil thrusts him into a cat-and-mouse game with government agencies and corporate espionage as he attempts to track down the people responsible. Noah Hawley manages to capture the inherent humor in the realm of conspiracy theories while simultaneously exposing the serious realities behind them. A Conspiracy of Tall Men was published in 1998, and it's interesting to see the focus on the pre-millennial conspiracies that were popular at the time. Some of them, like Y2K and Gulf war Syndrome, while other plot devices like population control at the hands of pharmaceutical companies is quite possibly more relevant now than it was twenty years ago. And while the gap of two decades makes the novel's lack of 9/11 references glaringly noticeable, other aspects could be almost imperceptibly updated, such as swapping out Art Bell clone Richard Preston with a YouTube equivalent of Alex Jones. The more things change, the more things stay the same. The true achievement of Hawley's novel is that he delves into the paranoid world of conspiracies with a sardonic smirk, but without contempt. You don't have to be a fan of X-Files or the Illuminatus Trilogy to enjoy or appreciate A Conspiracy of Tall Men, and if you aren't, but you may end up with a few more suspicions than you started with.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    If you look for trouble, you’ll find it. That’s what A CONSPIRACY OF TALL MEN says, at least in part. We are introduced to Linus and his two friends, all conspiracy theorists. They’re always on the lookout for trouble. And, boy, do they find it when Linus's wife is killed. She was on a plane she shouldn’t have been on with another man, and someone bombed the plane. Twists and turns abound when we follow Linus on the one hand and his friends on the other as they figure out the mysteries. In the mi If you look for trouble, you’ll find it. That’s what A CONSPIRACY OF TALL MEN says, at least in part. We are introduced to Linus and his two friends, all conspiracy theorists. They’re always on the lookout for trouble. And, boy, do they find it when Linus's wife is killed. She was on a plane she shouldn’t have been on with another man, and someone bombed the plane. Twists and turns abound when we follow Linus on the one hand and his friends on the other as they figure out the mysteries. In the middle of the book I was sometimes confused and had to re-read some paragraphs. But all in all I enjoyed the book and it’s dialogue very much. But I wonder if anyone besides me is curious about Richard Preston, the name, not the character. I read reviews of this book but have seen no one else bring it up. When I saw that name, I immediately thought of the author Richard Preston. How amusing that his name was used for a character so concerned with a plague. I read this because I liked Noah Hawley’s latest book, BEFORE THE FALL, so much. I see with A CONSPIRACY OF TALL MEN that he was writing five-star books even 20 years ago. (His picture from back then makes him look like he was about 12 years old when he wrote it.)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Laura Rehor

    Just finished reading this book and I must say that I enjoyed most of the novel. Conspiracy theories were always my thing so it was just natural to start reading it and I must say that I wasn't disappointed. The characters are so detailed that the reader can really get a feeling for them. Some people might feel like there are too many details put to each character but that is what brings you close to the acting figures, in my opinion. The main character, Linus Owen, is really relatable. He just Just finished reading this book and I must say that I enjoyed most of the novel. Conspiracy theories were always my thing so it was just natural to start reading it and I must say that I wasn't disappointed. The characters are so detailed that the reader can really get a feeling for them. Some people might feel like there are too many details put to each character but that is what brings you close to the acting figures, in my opinion. The main character, Linus Owen, is really relatable. He just tries to save for it is most important for him. His freedom and the love of his life. Wouldn't everyone try to secure this? That is why I felt so connected to Linus throughout the novel. The reason I could only give four out of five stars is that there are probably a little too many people that are important to the story. Sometimes you lose track and have to repeat in your mind who that given person is and what's their connection to Linus. Especially when they're only a minor character. Furtermore I felt like the open ending wasn't necessary in this case. It would have been better to have a rounded up story. So it's a 4/5 for me! :)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Amos

    Though this was published over 20 years ago, Hawley managed to capture an eerily prescient tone in this tale of a conspiracy theory professor and his trials and tribulations following the death of his wife in what appears to be a terrorist bombing of an airplane. Linus Owen is a man whose worst nightmare, or greatest dream (depending on how you slice it), comes true when government agents deliver the news that his wife has lost her life on a flight to Brazil that she wasn't even supposed to be o Though this was published over 20 years ago, Hawley managed to capture an eerily prescient tone in this tale of a conspiracy theory professor and his trials and tribulations following the death of his wife in what appears to be a terrorist bombing of an airplane. Linus Owen is a man whose worst nightmare, or greatest dream (depending on how you slice it), comes true when government agents deliver the news that his wife has lost her life on a flight to Brazil that she wasn't even supposed to be on. What separates this from other stories or movies in the "conspiracy theory" genre is the Dickensian cast of characters who may or may not be be exactly who they say they are, and the protagonist giving all the "men in black" a run for their money. While the ending doesn't satisfy as much as I would like, Hawley does a great job of pulling back the curtain on some of the underpinnings of the national government and urges readers to not just blindly accept what we've been told.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    I've enjoyed Hawley's work before, and was intrigued by the idea of him writing a conspiracy novel. Like many good conspiracy novels, you often don't quite know what's happening, and there is an expansive cast of characters, many of whom are shady government or corporate figures with aliases to further muddy the waters. Hawley mostly pulls it off pretty well, though. There is definitely a desperate sense at times for the characters as the government and its corporate interests work to suffocate I've enjoyed Hawley's work before, and was intrigued by the idea of him writing a conspiracy novel. Like many good conspiracy novels, you often don't quite know what's happening, and there is an expansive cast of characters, many of whom are shady government or corporate figures with aliases to further muddy the waters. Hawley mostly pulls it off pretty well, though. There is definitely a desperate sense at times for the characters as the government and its corporate interests work to suffocate the people caught up in their web. This is all the best portrayal that I've seen of the fringe conspiracy elements that exist within the American society, and how they exist even as they are stuck permanently on the periphery. My only qualm is that the ending struggled to provide much in the way of closure and left the exact nature of the conspiracy up in the air. I'm certain that was Hawley's entire point, but it didn't land all that well from the reader's perspective.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Spencer

    I hoped this book would be a silly romp about conspiracy theorists and it wound up significantly heavier than I expected. Sure, it's suffused moments of dark humor, but at heart the book is about a marriage falling apart and the failings of the modern world. So not as breezy as you might expect. I also thought it was released this year, but in reality it's a second printing and the original book was written in 1998. That's remarkable, because the book felt fresh in it's themes and takes on societ I hoped this book would be a silly romp about conspiracy theorists and it wound up significantly heavier than I expected. Sure, it's suffused moments of dark humor, but at heart the book is about a marriage falling apart and the failings of the modern world. So not as breezy as you might expect. I also thought it was released this year, but in reality it's a second printing and the original book was written in 1998. That's remarkable, because the book felt fresh in it's themes and takes on society even though it's 20 years old. Bits and pieces of the prose were awkward, everyone chews on their lips constantly and some of the the themes (especially the reflections on religion) didn't close their arcs with maximum impact, but the book was gripping and interesting. It's a fine read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Onceinabluemoon

    3.5. This started out great, my husband and I were listening in the car, neither of us saying a word for ninety minutes, an excellent sign! I continued on solo but made the fatal mistake of reading reviews. They were brutal... I didn't even know this was written twenty years ago, I thought it was a new release and I was rushing to get it back to the library! I read a review that was a total spoiler with no warning, that deflated all my fun, I hate knowing anything, 90% of the time I read cold, I 3.5. This started out great, my husband and I were listening in the car, neither of us saying a word for ninety minutes, an excellent sign! I continued on solo but made the fatal mistake of reading reviews. They were brutal... I didn't even know this was written twenty years ago, I thought it was a new release and I was rushing to get it back to the library! I read a review that was a total spoiler with no warning, that deflated all my fun, I hate knowing anything, 90% of the time I read cold, I don't like to read the synopsis, I like to be surprised page after page... bottom line is I lost interest quick, it is a rather convoluted story but the spoiler spelled it out. I most likely would have rated this four stars if I hadn't spoiled it for myself, but overall I am rating it three stars.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Newcomer

    I may have to stop reading second novels. They seem to be disproportionately disappointing. I really liked the first Hawley book "After the Fall." The plot swept me along. Characters were interesting. This one, however, drags and moves in stops and starts. Much more about conspiracy theorists than I ever needed or wanted to know. After reading 2/3 or so I skimmed the rest seeking action sequences. The may long, long descriptions made me wonder if the author has been keeping a journal for 10 year I may have to stop reading second novels. They seem to be disproportionately disappointing. I really liked the first Hawley book "After the Fall." The plot swept me along. Characters were interesting. This one, however, drags and moves in stops and starts. Much more about conspiracy theorists than I ever needed or wanted to know. After reading 2/3 or so I skimmed the rest seeking action sequences. The may long, long descriptions made me wonder if the author has been keeping a journal for 10 years with detailed notes on places he has been: a nearly deserted gas station on a deserted Nevada blacktop, LAX, the restroom on an airplane -- they go on for paragraphs. I hope the next one goes back to the virtues of the first.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    I had high hopes for this book having enjoyed After the Fall and liking conspiracy thrillers but this was a real disappointment. The conspiracy was confusing and never really explained; there was way too much discription of every single person's life history even if they were totally irrelevant to the plot. And yet the characters who needed to be explored in more depth, weren't. The mental hospital episode was unpleasant and unnecessary and druggy CIA agents seemed completely ridiculous. I strug I had high hopes for this book having enjoyed After the Fall and liking conspiracy thrillers but this was a real disappointment. The conspiracy was confusing and never really explained; there was way too much discription of every single person's life history even if they were totally irrelevant to the plot. And yet the characters who needed to be explored in more depth, weren't. The mental hospital episode was unpleasant and unnecessary and druggy CIA agents seemed completely ridiculous. I struggled through to the end with little hope for either the book or the future of Linus and co and that is exactly how the author left them. What a pity.

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