The Executioners (MacDonald novel)

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The Executioners
First h/b edition
Author John D. MacDonald
Cover artist H. Lawrence Hoffman
Country United States
Language English
Genre Thriller
Publisher Simon & Schuster
Publication date
Media type Print
Pages 224
ISBN 0449131904

The Executioners is a classic, dark psychological thriller novel written by John D. MacDonald, published in 1957. It was filmed twice under the title Cape Fear, once in 1962 and again in 1991.

The overall tone of the novel is not nearly as brutal as the film adaptations, and especially the remake.


The basic plot of the novel concerns an attorney named Sam Bowden, who caught Max Cady, an illiterate, brutal rapist, in the act. Bowden later testifies against him. The jury finds Cady guilty and Cady is sent to prison for fourteen years, when he develops and nurses an obsessive grudge, fueled with rage and hatred over how Bowden sent him to jail. After Cady is paroled, he begins stalking Bowden's family, not only seeking vengeance, but also envying what Bowden has, particularly eyeing Bowden's innocent teenage daughter. Cady's vendetta slowly escalates from stalking and annoying the family to killing anybody Cady deems close to the family. Cady's vendetta becomes so dangerously violent that Bowden is forced to kill Cady to protect his family from being murdered.

The Cape Fear River is not featured in the novel, though it is integral in both film adaptations.

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