The Good Father by Noah Hawley



I don’t read a lot of books written by men or about men because they generally don’t interest me. I already know too much about men’s stories. I picked The Good Father because I like the shows Fargo and Legion and he is the writer/creator of them and the subject sounded interesting. I tried a more recent book of his in the summer but I could not get into it at all but since this was available right now from the library for the Kindle and we all know I like to read my Kindle in bed so I thought I’d give it a shot.

This was the story of a rheumatologist (a fact that he mentions a lot and uses to explain why he is always looking for the answers in puzzles–to him rheumatologist are some sort of rare, mystical doctor that solves medical mysteries no other doctor can*)  whose son from his first marriage to a flighty “artist” who apparently has not produced any art or writing at all, assassinates the Democratic nominee for president. Seems very “ripped from the headlines” but it was actually pretty good. The father can’t believe his son did it and goes on a tear trying to prove his innocence. He reads books about all of the other famous assassinations (and attempts) and researches as much as he can about what his son was doing on his one-year road trip prior to the assassination. He also blames himself a bit because he only saw the son a few times a year since he lived across the country and only saw the boy for summers and holidays for the most part.

What I liked about the book was 1. the son isn’t painted at terribly mentally ill. He seems to do a bit of magical thinking but nothing super out of the ordinary. 2. The dad’s concern and puzzlement over his son’s actions as he remembers him as a very sensitive boy seemed genuine as his admitting that he didn’t know his son that well because of the custody arrangement. 3. The story of some of the events from the son’s childhood are shared during via journal entries and psychologist’s reports from the son’s point of view were interesting. 4. I liked the interspersing of details of prior assassinations in the book.  I like a well-researched book. 5. There was no real neglect or abuse of the son or physical problem that would explain what happened.

Odd things: 1. His second wife is a saint for putting up with his obsession with the son and for taking their children to see their half-brother in jail. 2. There are several mentions of taking the trash out and he calls the bin “Toters”. I looked it up and apparently, it is a brand of trash can but who calls a trashcan by its brand name? Or talks about trash that much? 3. Why were some of the dates left out? He was born in 19__, he killed the senator in 20__. Is so it could take place in a more nebulous timeline and not be connected to any one election? It seemed silly as obviously it was fiction and having him born in 19__  (and we know he is 20-21 in the book) is going to date the book anyway. In a few years, he would have been born in 20__ anyway!

*He seems to think no one knows what a rheumatologist is which I think is sort of silly but maybe he is right as spellcheck keeps saying it is not a word.


If you want to see my current reading list, I’ve started a spreadsheet. I read a lot more than I post about here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s