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At First Sight: A Novel of Obsession
by Stephen J. Cannell

Published: 2008-07-08
Hardcover : 352 pages
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Meet Chick Best--a middle-aged, self-absorbed, disaffected, California dot-com millionaire. Other than his house and high-priced foreign cars, Chick's most expensive possession is his trophy wife, Evelyn. Evelyn is good at spending Chick's money, money that has pretty much run out. Another problem ...
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Introduction

Meet Chick Best--a middle-aged, self-absorbed, disaffected, California dot-com millionaire. Other than his house and high-priced foreign cars, Chick's most expensive possession is his trophy wife, Evelyn. Evelyn is good at spending Chick's money, money that has pretty much run out. Another problem is his drug-addled sixteen-year-old daughter, Melissa. Though concerned about his life and family, Chick has resigned himself to a miserable state of acceptance. That is, until he, Evelyn and Melissa take a Christmas vacation in Maui. With this, Chick's life changes... Chick experiences unrequited love at first sight when he observes Paige Ellis emerging from the hotel swimming pool. His obsession, exceeded only by his need to possess her, isn't diminished when he learns that she is happily married. Instead he befriends Paige and her near-perfect husband, Chandler. A short time later, back from Hawaii, Chick's obsession compels him to drive to Paige's house where he runs down and kills Chandler in a drugstore parking lot. But this is just the beginning of Chick's nightmare as his life spirals homicidally out of control resulting in the destruction of everything he holds dear. Will Paige learn the truth about Chick before it's too late

Editorial Review

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Excerpt

CHICK

LET'S START WITH THE ESSENTIALS.
My name is Chick Best. Chick is short for Charles. I'm five-feet ten-inches tall and I weigh one-hundred-eighty-five pounds . . . okay, if you want to be picky, one-ninety-four-but I'm about to lose fifteen. I'm starting the Atkins Diet any day now. I'm fifty-five years old and I live in Los Angeles. My mother was named Celeste, my father was Chick Sr., so that means I was Chick Jr., until Dad checked off the ride on the Hollywood Freeway during my sophomore year in high school. He fell asleep and ran his silver Jag into a bridge abutment. People said he didn't deserve to die . . . but he was drunk, so who else can you blame? Rim shot. Cue the strings. I'll deal with that whole mess later. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. When you first started reading this novel, did you think Chick Best would be the hero? Do you feel sympathy for him?

2. How prevalent is Chick Best's materialistic view of life in our society? Do you know people who are like Chick? Is the U.S. experiencing a cultural decay of values?

3. Have you ever had a crush on someone that lingered a bit too long? Did you act on it? What were the consequences? Good or bad?

4. Do you know any “perfect couples” like Chandler and Paige? Ever feel envious of them? Did you think Chandler and Paige might be hiding a secret?

5. Did you think Chick would get away with running over Chandler and trying to cover it up? Have you ever tried to cover something up?

6. Chick's money seems to almost enslave him, as he can't divorce Evelyn because of the cash outlay. Do you think some people are almost imprisoned because of their money?

7. Do you know any families like Chick, Evelyn and Melissa? Has the dysfunctional family become the norm these days?

8. Chick uses sympathy to manipulate Paige. Have there been people in your life that have tried something like that? How do you draw the line without appearing rude?

9. Paige seems to see little warning signs about Chick, but gives him the benefit of the doubt. How will that experience change her life? Did you ever get a gut instinct about something? Did you follow your instinct or ignore it? What happened?

10. Do you think Paige will ever find as much happiness with a new man, someday, as she did with Chandler?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

In the second section of the book, I wrote from Chick's I-narrative, alternating each chapter with Paige telling her side of the story in the third person. In the third section, I shift to Paige's I-narrative and Chick's third person. The end of the book is Paige's I-narrative. The effect I was trying to achieve was to bring Paige, the ultimate hero, forward as the story progresses.

My second reason for writing At First Sight is I have become increasingly concerned with the shallowing out of our American value system. When I was growing up, we celebrated accomplishment in this country. Now it seems to be only about celebrity. The fact that we could spend two and a half months on Anna Nicole Smith is all the evidence necessary.

Chick Best is the poster boy for this titanic shift in our American cultural values. He's smart enough to spot this deficit in himself, which allows me to explore my theme in his internal monologues.

I hope you will enjoy reading this novel as much as I enjoyed writing it.

STEPHEN J. CANNELL

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "Terrific thriller."by teatime (see profile) 01/07/09

This story is very entertaining. Fueled by an obsessive attraction, Chick's life of luxury spins out of control, by his own choices, in many twists and turns that will keep the pages turning. It generated... (read more)

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