The Cave

The Cave

3.24 (494 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Translated by 

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A stunning psychological thriller about friship, drugs, and murder from the author of "The Vanishing." Egon Wagter and Axel van de Graaf met when they were both fourteen and on vacation in Belgium. Axel is fascinating, filled with an amoral energy by which the more prudent, less adventurous Egon is both mesmerized and repelled. Even as a teen, Axel has a strange power over those around him. He defies authority, seduces women, breaks the law. Axel chooses Egon as a friend, a friendship that somehow ures over time and ends up determining Egon's fate. During his university studies, Egon frequents Axel's house in Amsterdam, where there is a party every night and women fill the rooms. Though Egon chooses geology over Axel's life of avarice and drug dealing, he remains intrigued by his friend's conviction that the only law that counts is the law he makes himself. Egon believes that Axel is a demonic figure who tempts others only because he knows they want to be tempted. By the time he is in his forties, Egon finds himself divorced and with few professional prospects. He turns for help to Axel, who sends him to Ratanakiri, a fictional country in Southeast Asia. Axel gives Egon a suitcase to deliver-and Egon never returns. Utterly compelling and resonant, "The Cave" is an unforgettable story of betrayal in the spirit of Tim Krabbe's remarkable first novel, "The Vanishing,"show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 152 pages
  • 142.2 x 215.9 x 17.8mm | 294.84g
  • Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0374119783
  • 9780374119782

Review Text

This is a short novel, but Krabbe's lean, sparse style and brief sentences ensure that it says a great deal. His prose is especially powerful in the tensest moments, of which there are many. As the story begins, geologist Egon Wagter is in a south-east Asian country acting as a reluctant drug courier. If caught, he will face the death penalty. After this taut, breathless opening the story goes into flashback, to Egon's first meeting as a teenager with the charismatic but manipulative Axel van de Graaf, of whom Egon says: 'He was fascinating, irresistible, a friend if you wanted to call him that, but first and foremost he was a bastard.' Their meeting leads to many new experiences for Egon, who in short order discovers dope, alcohol and sex. He also discovers new risks, one of which will ultimately lead to potential disaster. The two men's ambivalent relationship underpins all that happens, affecting even those elements that at first appear unrelated. Krabbe has employed similar subtle methods in previous novels, most notably The Vanishing, which was filmed twice. The cave from which the novel takes its title is one discovered by Egon as a boy - a place of romance, faults and secrets, paralleling his later experiences. Some of the coincidences woven into the story take a bit of swallowing but Krabbe has created a thrilling and fascinating work. (Kirkus UK)show more

Rating details

494 ratings
3.24 out of 5 stars
5 8% (40)
4 31% (153)
3 42% (209)
2 15% (72)
1 4% (20)
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