T.C. Boyle thriller takes on America’s violence

T.C. Boyle: what an interesting writer! He’s 66 now, and over the years his fiction has managed to touch on a huge range of subjects, from the Kinsey Reports to illegal immigration to the inventor of corn flakes, while still feeling unmistakably like part of a single vision. The reason is that he’s so avidly engaged, across all of his work, with his conception of America — and more specifically, America’s intrinsic westward restlessness, the times and places where it has been still just unfinished, ragged at the edge, open to change.

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And often, therefore, to violence. It’s this strand of our identity that Boyle explores in his marvelous new novel The Harder They Come, a thrilling, intense book, his finest since Drop City.

The Harder They Come appears to be based on the sad saga of Christopher Dorner, the former LAPD officer whose killing spree in 2013 led to a massive manhunt across California. Dorner’s proxy here is Adam Stenson, a furious and delusional young man whom police follow into the mountains of northwestern California.

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