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The Great Leader

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Author Jim Harrison has won international acclaim for his masterful body of work, including Returning to Earth, Legends of the Fall and over thirty books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. In his most original work to date, Harrison delivers an enthralling, witty and expertly-crafted novel following one man’s hunt for an elusive cult leader, dubbed “The Great Leader.”

On the verge of retirement, Detective Sunderson begins to investigate a hedonistic cult, which has set up camp near his home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. At first, the self-declared Great Leader seems merely a harmless oddball, but as Sunderson and his sixteen-year-old sidekick dig deeper, they find him more intelligent and sinister than they realized. Recently divorced and frequently pickled in alcohol, Sunderson tracks his quarry from the woods of Michigan to a town in Arizona, filled with criminal border-crossers, and on to Nebraska, where the Great Leader’s most recent recruits have gathered to glorify his questionable religion. But Sunderson’s demons are also in pursuit of him.

Rich with character and humor, The Great Leader is at once a gripping excursion through America’s landscapes and the poignant story of a man grappling with age, lost love and his own darker nature.

Publishers Weekly Review

Aug 08, 2011 – Harrison (The English Teacher) offers a chunk of comic backwoods noir marked by more plodding than stalking. Detective Sunderson wallows in “the deep puzzlement of retirement” even as he pursues, on his own dime, a pedophilic cult leader. Known simply as “Dwight,” the quarry promises to unknot for Sunderson the bedeviling connections between sex, religion, and money. But Dwight barely appears on the page, leaving the detective often ruminating on his own distrust of money and spirituality, and obsessing about sex—which he actually gets a fair amount of for an overweight, drunk, sardonic, 64-year-old bachelor, despite his belief that the “biological imperative was a distracting nuisance.” Characters and themes like these pervade the prolific Harrison’s work; no one makes horny geezers so lovable, but some will wish he’d distilled this into the novella form he’s so good at. The story’s motifs of lust and power, sex and death resonate, yet the narrative’s slow progression keeps an otherwise entertaining literary investigation rooted in the oft-frozen ground of the Upper Peninsula.

Customer Reviews

Great idea, lousy execution

Plainly and simply, this had nothing to do with cult leaders but about the pathetic drinking and whoring of a retired cop. Then after 380 pages, that's it, I've written enough, let's just kill off the villain. A waste of money.......

Man's Man

Jim Harrison is one of a very small handful of writers who writes from the heart of manhood. No macho illusions, no new-age sensitivity on display, just the stuff that makes us go. This - all his work -- is required reading for anyone who wonders about such things. His style is unlike any other, funny and rich and passionate. His is the voice of an American original, a national treasure.

The Great Leader
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Oct 04, 2011
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Seller: The Perseus Books Group, LLC
  • Print Length: 288 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings