Best 1957 Adventures (9)

By: Joshua Glenn
August 5, 2017

One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1957 adventure novels. Happy 60th anniversary!


John D. MacDonald’s psychological thriller The Executioners (aka Cape Fear).

Released from prison after serving over a dozen years of a life sentence (for raping a minor, while he was in the Army), the brutal Max Cady heads like a bullet towards Sam Bowden, who’d been a key witness against him. Bowden is now a civilian, a happily married man with children living in Florida; he’s helpless to prevent the creepy ex-con from hanging around his lakeside village, making veiled threats. He’s a disaster waiting to happen. (“There are black things loose in the world. Cady is one of them. A patch of ice on a curve can be one of them. A germ can be one of them.”) After Bowden’s dog is poisoned, in a desperate attempt to protect his family — particularly his teenage daughter — he decides to take the law into his own hands.

Fun fact: Adapted twice for the screen, in 1962 (with Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck) and 1991 (with Robert DeNiro and Nick Nolte), as Cape Fear. MacDonald is best known for his 21 adventure novels — from The Deep Blue Good-by in 1964 to The Lonely Silver Rain in 1984 — starring Travis McGee.


Let me know if I’ve missed any 1957 adventures that you particularly admire.


Adventure, Lit Lists