The Good Father

Noah Hawley

An ordinary boy with an ordinary life stands accused of killing the next president of the United States. What happened? Dr Paul Allen is a well-respected man. He lives a happy, comfortable life with his second wife and their family. Until the night when a knock at the door blows his world apart: a hugely popular presidential candidate has been shot, and they say the young man who pulled the trigger is Paul's son. Daniel, the only child from his first, failed marriage, was always a good kid and Paul is convinced his quiet boy is not capable of murder. Overwhelmed by a vortex of feelings, Paul embarks on a mission to understand what happened and why. Following the trail of his son's journey across America, he is forced to re-examine his life as a husband and a parent, and every decision he ever made.What follows is a powerfully emotional and suspense-filled quest that keeps you guessing to the very end. Monsters don't just become monsters, after all.

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Jay Seagram is the next president of the United States. A charismatic hybrid of Jack Kennedy and Bill Clinton, he is hugely popular and seen as a beacon of hope and decency for the world’s future.

All that is blown away on the day Seagram steps up to the podium to address an audience of cheering, flag-waving supporters. Backstage, he has just got off a video call to his young children. Now, he is about to clinch his grip on the party nomination and his place in history.

But shots ring out from the packed auditorium. Jay Seagram collapses to the floor, fatally wounded. After a brief scuffle, the punk dropout holding the murder weapon is shot in the leg by security agents and manhandled into custody.

The boy’s guilt seems certain – he was caught on camera, seen by witnesses, and the forensic evidence is overwhelming. It’s an open and shut case.

But his father, a respected doctor and professor and comfortably-off family man, is unconvinced. Long estranged from his son, he nevertheless refuses to accept he could be capable of such a barbaric act. And so, using the medical disciplines he applies to making difficult and complex diagnoses on his patients, Dr Paul Allen begins his quest for the truth.

It will make him one of the most hated men in America, and challenge everything he thinks he knows about himself and his son.


Daniel is the product of his father’s first, failed marriage. He spent his childhood and adolescence flying between his mother’s home in California, and his father’s in New York.

Dr Allen always told himself that his son’s early years were a broadly positive experience. The boy didn’t have to grow up in a home riven by parental arguments; the frequent flying from coast to was a maturing, broadening exercise; and after all, Daniel still had two parents who loved him, even if they no longer loved each other.

But now, as the doctor delves into his son’s past and events surrounding the senator’s slaying, he is not so sure. He cannot accept that Daniel has what it takes to be a cold-blooded killer, but how well does he really know his boy?

The Good Father is a hugely emotional, almost unbearably tense journey into the meaning of fatherhood and the power of truth. It also takes a bleak, unsparing look at the seething mass of contradictions at the heart of American gun culture, and how conspiracy theories are spawned and nurtured. The parts of the book that examine the murder of president Kennedy’s brother, Robert, are both absorbing and surprising.

But ultimately this is a story of love and trust and acceptance, wrapped beautifully inside an old-fashioned thriller. It will keep you reading long into the night, and leave you haunted by its central characters long after you have turned the last page.

A mini-masterpiece.

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  • If you only read one of the Richard and Judys read this one. Beautifully written.


  • This book started well, and I couldn't put it down. The references to the past assassinations were interesting and the fathers growing desperation was well built up, but the tone of the book made it easier and easier to put down and found my self skipping paragraphs towards the end to get to the end. It was however a good book, very moving in parts and a testimony of a fathers love in the modern world, which isn't written about enough.


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