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About the book
  • Published: 12 February 2015
  • ISBN: 9781473520363
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 240

The Laughing Monsters




In Sierra Leone, suspicion has become the law. A contemporary spy thriller from the great American writer Denis Johnson, author of Train Dreams and Tree of Smoke.

‘In this land of chaos and despair, all I can do is wish for magic armour and the power to disappear.’

Freetown, Sierra Leone. A city of heat and dirt, of guns and militia. Alone in its crowded streets, Captain Roland Nair has been given a single assignment. He must find Michael Adriko – maverick, warrior, and the man who has saved Nair's life three times and risked it many more.

The two men have schemed, fought and profited together in the most hostile regions of the world. But on this new level – espionage, state secrets, treason – their loyalties will be tested to the limit.

This is a brutal journey through a land abandoned by the future – a journey that will lead them to meet themselves not in a new light, but in a new darkness.

  • Pub date: 12 February 2015
  • ISBN: 9781473520363
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 240

About the Author

Denis Johnson

Denis Johnson was the author of nine novels, one novella, two books of short stories, five collections of poetry, two collections of plays and one book of reportage. Among other honours, his novel Tree of Smoke won the 2007 National Book Award and was a finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize, and Train Dreams was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize.

Also by Denis Johnson

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Praise for The Laughing Monsters

“This high-suspense tale offer a more convincing portrait of amoral intelligence agents and the havoc they wreak than almost any journalistic account of Third World skullduggery”

Washington Post Sunday

“This high-suspense tale offer a more convincing portrait of amoral intelligence agents and the havoc they wreak than almost any journalistic account of Third World skullduggery”

Washington Post Sunday

“For all its chaos and complexity, The Laughing Monsters is one of Johnson’s most disciplined efforts”

Nathaniel Rich, Atlantic

“For all its chaos and complexity, The Laughing Monsters is one of Johnson’s most disciplined efforts”

Nathaniel Rich, Atlantic

“This echoes of Graham Greene’s bleak cynicism and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, it’s a gripping romp through a world of corruption, government interference, big business manipulation and all sorts of other shenanigans to boot”

Doug Johnstone, Big Issue

“This echoes of Graham Greene’s bleak cynicism and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, it’s a gripping romp through a world of corruption, government interference, big business manipulation and all sorts of other shenanigans to boot”

Doug Johnstone, Big Issue

“It has an irresistible sense of hopelessness”

Eva Dolan, Metro

“It has an irresistible sense of hopelessness”

Eva Dolan, Metro

“The Laughing Monsters is part espionage thriller and part screwball comedy, and it straddles those far-flung genres with more grace than you might think possible”

Edmund Gordon, Sunday Times

“The Laughing Monsters is part espionage thriller and part screwball comedy, and it straddles those far-flung genres with more grace than you might think possible”

Edmund Gordon, Sunday Times

“Short, sharp-edged and often very funny novel”

Scott Bradfield, Literary Review

“Short, sharp-edged and often very funny novel”

Scott Bradfield, Literary Review

“The moral ambiguity, corruption and exploitation that the author gradually reveals on the ground in modern Africa is breathtaking, without ever being preachy or didactic”

Doug Johnstone, Big Issue

“The moral ambiguity, corruption and exploitation that the author gradually reveals on the ground in modern Africa is breathtaking, without ever being preachy or didactic”

Doug Johnstone, Big Issue

“Refreshingly, The Laughing Monsters mostly rejects the passé heroics and moral clarity of traditional James Bond-style thrillers for something more complicated. It is never a case of mission accomplished…but that only adds to the intrigue”

John Sunyer, Financial Times

“Refreshingly, The Laughing Monsters mostly rejects the passé heroics and moral clarity of traditional James Bond-style thrillers for something more complicated. It is never a case of mission accomplished…but that only adds to the intrigue”

John Sunyer, Financial Times

“Complex and disquieting”

Neville Hawcock, Financial Times

“Complex and disquieting”

Neville Hawcock, Financial Times

“The Laughing Monsters…walks in the steps of Graham Greene’s The Heart of the Matter.”

Mark Lawson, Guardian

“The Laughing Monsters…walks in the steps of Graham Greene’s The Heart of the Matter.”

Mark Lawson, Guardian

“Heart of Darkness mixed with espionage – madness seeps into the fibre of the story.”

Eleanor King, Nudge

“Heart of Darkness mixed with espionage – madness seeps into the fibre of the story.”

Eleanor King, Nudge

“Johnson's tenth novel is a stunner: the story of Roland Nair, a rogue intelligence agent looking to make a big score in Sierra Leone amid the detritus and chaos of the post-war-on-terrorism world. Johnson's sentences are always brilliant, but it is in the interstices, the gray areas of the story, that he really excels."”

LA Times

“Johnson's tenth novel is a stunner: the story of Roland Nair, a rogue intelligence agent looking to make a big score in Sierra Leone amid the detritus and chaos of the post-war-on-terrorism world. Johnson's sentences are always brilliant, but it is in the interstices, the gray areas of the story, that he really excels."”

LA Times

“National Book Award winner Denis Johnson has brilliantly plumbed the mystical and the macabre in such works as Tree of Smoke and his instant classic Jesus’ Son. The Laughing Monsters delivers a more commercial, post-9/11 tale of intrigue, deception, romance, and misadventure set in West Africa without losing Johnson’s essentially poetic drive . . . With each twist, Johnson deftly ups the stakes while adding to the cavalcade of entrepreneurs, assassins, seers, and smugglers that populate the book, tuning us in to the roiling political realities and cultural complexities of Africa today . . . This visionary novel is always falling together, never apart. That’s Johnson.”

Elle US

“National Book Award winner Denis Johnson has brilliantly plumbed the mystical and the macabre in such works as Tree of Smoke and his instant classic Jesus’ Son. The Laughing Monsters delivers a more commercial, post-9/11 tale of intrigue, deception, romance, and misadventure set in West Africa without losing Johnson’s essentially poetic drive . . . With each twist, Johnson deftly ups the stakes while adding to the cavalcade of entrepreneurs, assassins, seers, and smugglers that populate the book, tuning us in to the roiling political realities and cultural complexities of Africa today . . . This visionary novel is always falling together, never apart. That’s Johnson.”

Elle US

“And for his next trick, Johnson delivers a taut, Conrad-by-way-of-Chandler tale about a spy who gets too close to the man he's shadowing in Africa . . . As in any good double-agent story, Johnson obscures whose side Roland is really on, and Roland himself hardly knows the answer either: Befogged by frustrations and bureaucracy, his lust for Davidia and simple greed, he slips deeper into violence and disconnection. Johnson expertly maintains the heart-of-darkness mood . . . his antihero's story is an intriguing metaphor for [post-9/11 lawlessness]”

Kirkus

“And for his next trick, Johnson delivers a taut, Conrad-by-way-of-Chandler tale about a spy who gets too close to the man he's shadowing in Africa . . . As in any good double-agent story, Johnson obscures whose side Roland is really on, and Roland himself hardly knows the answer either: Befogged by frustrations and bureaucracy, his lust for Davidia and simple greed, he slips deeper into violence and disconnection. Johnson expertly maintains the heart-of-darkness mood . . . his antihero's story is an intriguing metaphor for [post-9/11 lawlessness]”

Kirkus


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