Primal Fear by William Diehl

Primal Fear

Martin Vail, the brilliant "bad-boy" lawyer every prosecutor and politician love to hate, is defending Aaron Stampler, a man found holding a bloody butcher's knife near a murdered archbishop. Vail is certain to lose, but Vail uses his unorthodox ways to good advantage when choosing his legal team--a tight group of men and women who must uncover the extraordinary truth behind the archbishop's slaughter. They do, in a heart-stopping climax unparall...

Details Primal Fear

TitlePrimal Fear
Release DateSep 1st, 1998
PublisherBallantine Books
GenreMystery, Fiction, Crime, Thriller, Legal Thriller

Reviews Primal Fear

  • Bert Carson
    Like all of Diehl's books, Primal Fear is outstanding. A week after it was published I was reading it on a flight from Atlanta to San Francisco. First class was almost empty and I was the only one awake when the steward knelt down beside my seat and whispered, "I noticed the book you are reading. It's obvious you are either a psychologist or a psychiatrist." Before I could correct him, he blurted out, "I have a primal fear of flying." I listened ...
  • Supratim
    A worthy read for the Goodreads Mystery and Thriller Week!!This is my first book by the author, and I must say I did enjoy reading the novel: a psychological thriller-cum- courtroom drama.In Chicago, an archbishop – called the “Saint of Lakeview Drive” has been brutalized and a young man, Aaron Stampler, has been arrested from the scene of crime with the murder weapon. The evidence points to Aaron’s guilt, and he is facing capital punishm...
  • Maciek
    Although I saw the movie adaptation with Richard Gere and Edward Norton, I wanted to read this book because I was curious how the author would present his story on paper. It turned out that William Diehl did a great job at mixing psychological suspense with legal coutroom drama.Aaaron Stampler is accused of murdering Archbishop Richard Rushman - in fact police find him near the scene of the murder - hiding in a confessional, soaked with blood and...
  • Eric_W
    Those of you who have seen the excellent movie made from this book will have a pretty good idea where it winds up. I saw the movie long before getting the book, so the ending wasn’t a huge surprise, and I found the book to be quite interesting with intriguing characters:-Vail, the successful lawyer dragged into a case he didn't want because the judge wants to hand him a sure loss as punishment for Vails successful suit against the city ;- Molli...
  • Mehul
    WOW! Very intriguing!'Primal Fear' has all the elements I always craved for in a book. I can say that by the way it gripped me altogether.This books, surely deserved a 4 star rating until the last 10-12 pages just made it so damn interesting.And this is one of the books, where the last line reveals the suspense. So I suggest, not to, even accidentally read the last line. And if you do, be naive, like me. I read the last line, and thankfully it di...
  • Andjela
    A masterfully crafted novel. The writing is superb, the attention to detail magnificent and the story itself is particularly thrilling and interesting. I watched the movie a few years back, so I knew the ending. Even with a huge spoiler like that, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it was as gripping and suspenseful as it would be if I had no clue about the resolution of the story. I really enjoyed Diehl's writing style, and I can't wait to get m...
  • Joe Noir
    Unlike Sharky’s Machine (also by William Diehl) in which the good guys obviously wore the white hats, and the bad guys obviously wore the black hats, this novel, Primal Fear, is all shades of gray…and blood red.A high profile defense attorney who has never lost a case is assigned to defend, pro bono, the altar boy accused of butchering the city’s most popular archbishop. The bishop was found in pieces, literally, in his residence and the ac...
  • Tiara
    Aaron Stampler is found in a confessional booth holding a knife, proclaiming his innocence, after someone killed the revered Bishop of the city. Martin Vail, a quick-witted lawyer who isn't afraid to leap before he looks, is basically coerced into defending the young man who appears guilty in every sense of the word. Every politician in the city seems to have a vendetta against Vail and looks foward to seeing him lose the case.Liked the movie. Lo...
  • Carolyn Williams-walker
    I will never forget when I was finishing this book. I was relaxing after a day at work with the last 50 pages, enjoying the way Diehl was wrapping up the story. I got to the last few pages and was so completely surprised by the twist Diehl put into the story that I sat bolt upright, said basically what the heck (and no, not I didn't actually use that mild of an explicative) and instantly turned back those pages to make sure I wasn't hallucinating...
  • The Just-About-Cocky Ms M
    I read Primal Fear when it came out in 1998 and finished it in two days. Saw the movie when it came out, and hated that so much was omitted that I thought was integral to the book's overall impact. I saw the movie was being shown again a couple of weeks ago on cable, but I decided to re-read the book instead.I have to say that, unlike so many re-reads, Primal Fear has withstood nearly twenty years, and I enjoyed it more the second time. No need t...
  • Wendy
    First and best in a series, followed by "Show Of Evil" and "Reign In Hell."Also a great film starring Richard Gere and Edward Norton in his debut role.The city of Chicago is shocked when their "saint of Lakeview Drive," Archbishop Richard Bernard Rushman, is brutally murdered in his own rectory. Nineteen year old Aaron Stampler is found crouched in a church confessional, covered in the bishop's blood, mumbling, "Didn't do it, Mama."Attorney Marti...
  • M.M. Strawberry Reviews
    For a book that had so much hype, I have to say that I am rather disappointed. Most of the book was engaging, and I was prepared to give it a higher rating. However, I was hit with the disappointment one has when something starts, and goes on with plenty of promise, only to fizzle out in the end... which is exactly what happened with this book. The last court scene felt like the author had just gotten bored of his work and decided to just wrap th...
  • Eve Kay
    Excellent writing and some of the best characters I've met.I've seen the movie years ago but didn't expect the book to be as good, if not better. Usually that is the case but something at the back of my mind told me not to get my hopes up. I was proven wrong, the book revealed to me one of my new favourite genres of writing: courtroom thriller.The text is easy to read, the jargon isn't too difficult and the switch between past and present events,...
  • Barbara
    I read this many years ago but couldn't remember how everything fleshed out in the end. I started remembering more as I read further into the book. This didn't distract me from the storyline, but instead, engaged me more fully in the story. It let me get to know the characters more, and I liked all the main players.A tight and taut legal thriller with a good twist ending. Well worth the read.
  • Sarah
    CHILLS. There are not enough words in the English language to explain just how incredible this book is. I couldn't even begin to explain the mastered crafts of writing, psychology, and drama that Diehl weaves together. This book will remain in my top 5 for years to come.
  • Rohit Remesh
    Great Courtroom drama. Just when you though you had the hang of it, the story keeps getting better and betterHighly recommended!
  • Manugw
    Thought provoking A Bishop with an eminent standing in the local community is sadistically murdered by a teenager who was under his care, to the point that beyond the large amount of mortal wounds inflicted all over his body, his genital organs end up stuffed in his mouth .The potential perpetrator is a teenager suffering from a multiple personality disorder. Was he or his alter ego ?, is he accountable if his alter ego has done it ?, is multiple...
  • Salymar
    This novel is not just another court-room drama, William Diehl created a bad-ass lawyer that contradicts with John Grisham lawyers (the conscience-loving lawyers).At first, you would think the story is quite predictable for the reason that the case seems rather clear: an altar boy running away from the home of the bishop where he's killed (scenario: a bishop with blood all over his clothes). No doubt that you would think of something like, 'he ab...
  • Will
    Marty Vail and the Psychopath. Bad boy lawyer Vail jams it up the governments ass sideways in a settlement, and is repaid by having to defend the accused in a viscous murder trial pro bono. As he peels the onion on Aaron Stampler, he finds that the boy is harboring deep psychological issues and upon further investigation finds that Aaron has a split personality, and that his alter ego is a satanic murderer. Facing the state that wants his client ...
  • Eyehavenofilter
    Far better than the film. Yes I know. But the book is 99%? of the time better than the film. (Although the casting was DEVINE! )This is the twist at its best. This is the pompous arse getting his arse handed to him on a silver platter. Murder most foul, and yet, psychological mindf@@kary at its apex. What else can I say.
  • Jo-Anne
    Martin Vail is defending Aaron Stampler who is accused of murdering Archbishop Rushman. Vail has a good team to assist him with this case and uses unorthodox methods to get the information he needs.Diehl built intriguing characters in an amazing story. Primal Fear had me wondering what Vail was going to do next in this enthralling legal suspense.Stampler is a very gentle, mild mannered young man who claims he is innocent of killing the Bishop. Ho...
  • Shannon
    Did not see this ending coming. Not since Orwell's 1984 has a last line in any novel chilled me the way Diehl's has. Far superior to any courtroom drama, "Primal Fear" employs the essential stream of suspense, but also tackles the psychological interior of criminal mind and motive. His style is blatant, sometimes crude; Diehl is not striving for poetic analogies or metaphors, but mostly dialogue, upbeat, fluid, and remarkably realistic. He uses t...
  • Barbara Elsborg
    A rippingly good suspense story with an addictive lawyer Vail and a chilling villain - or is he - in the form of Aaron. This is the second time I've read it and I did remember the plot and the outcome but it is such a well written book, it was still entertaining to read it for the second time. It was exciting, fast moving, had plenty of interesting characters and first time through - I remember my toes curling at the end. If you like dark psychol...
  • Bookworm
    Wow this book deserved more than 5 stars, every page you turned there was a new twist to the story you never what to expect. This is about Vail and Venables in the court they dance around each, but knows Venables much better. Every time she thinks she got the upper hand, she just plays into Vails mind games. It is mind games, the biggest surprise is the last page, it was a shame when this story had to end. I will definitely be reading more of Mr ...
  • Emmy
    My terrible memory strikes again. The version of this book that I read didn't have the movie image on it, so I didn't make the connection to the 1996 movie until I finished the book and was thinking...what a predictable way to end this type of story. Then I realized the reason I thought it was "predictable" is because I had seen the movie way back when. Thanks brain.
  • Jim A
    One of the few instances where the movie actually was almost as good as the book. Back in the 80's and 90's William Diehl was one of the authors from whom I waited, not always patiently, for a new release.
  • Ladiibbug
    Murder MysteryRead this about 15 years ago. It's on my list of Best Ever Reads. I highly recommend the movie as well, with brilliant acting by Edward Norton & Richard Gere.
  • Anushka
    My sister kind of hinted me the ending so I was able to predict it and that's why I'm giving it 4 stars otherwise this book is a solid 5 out of 5. No questions asked.
  • Abhijit
    Receives 4 stars for the twist in the tale .............