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Fluke - James Herbert

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12 Reviews

Author: James Herbert / Genre: Horror

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    12 Reviews
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      23.09.2013 22:46

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      Must Read!

      Like most I was surprised that this book was in the horror genre, at no point did I jump or decide that I was going to sleep with the lights on! However, just because it's out of Herbert's comfort zone doesn't mean it's not good! I was unsure of reading this, but am so glad that I did.

      Following Fluke right from puppyhood through the ups and downs and twists and turns of life, the reader gets to experience life from the eyes of a dog; yet it is not all as it seems and Fluke gradually begins to remember his previous life as a man. And as he remembers his life, so too he remembers, or thinks he does, the cause of his death. He searches out his human family to try and help him find some answers and get revenge for his death.

      By writing Fluke, Herbert has shown what a talented writer he is. A book that could so easily be bad, is far from it. It is written with meaning and believability and that's what makes this book great. I laughed, I cried and at the end I wished it were longer! I'll most certainly never look at my dog the same again :-)

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      21.08.2011 09:40
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      215 pages of barking up the wrong tree

      Introduction

      James Herbert is a very succesful author; this success is justified by the usual quality of his work (The Fog, Haunted, The Dark etc). I got the feeling from reading Fluke that he had departed from his usual formula and was perhaps being a bit experimental. For experimental, read 'crap'. I will attempt to back up this opinion later on in this review; for now though, here's the review / outline of the plot.

      Plot

      The book is written as a tail (deliberatley mis-spelt, woof once if you got it!) told (barked) in the first person (or is it first dog, this is getting quite confusing) by a dog called Fluke. The story starts with Fluke being born and straight away Fluke is aware that he is different from most other dogs.

      As Fluke develops he has memories of a more human previous existence and it slowly dawns on him that he used to be a human man. Through encounters with other dogs and animals who are also in a similar re-incarnated state to Fluke, he pieces together his former human life and discovers that he had a family and a business, all of which were cruelly taken away from him by being murdered.

      Fluke is drawn to his former home and meets his former family, but try as he does, he can't communicate to his widowed wife sufficiently enough to reveal his identity. It is while he is in the company of his human family that he has a chance encounter with his human murderer, instantly recognised by Fluke upon seeing him.

      I won't divulge what happens in the encounter between Fluke and the person he recognises as his human-self killer, as this would spoil the culmination of the plot.

      Opinion

      Considering the pedigree (oops, another dog related pun) of the author, I was massively disappointed by this book. It was as unexpected as reading an essay on the works of Shakespeare in an edition of Heat magazine would be. I know fiction by it's very is make believe, but one of the factors (in my opinion) that makes for good fiction is an element of truth which thus makes the story believable to the reader. When this element of truth / believeability is evident in a chiller novel, it adds to the 'cold spine' experience of the reader as it plays on your mind that what you are reading could actually happen.

      It's that quality of writing that makes you leave the light on at night, or jump the last few feet into bed incase a hairy hand reaches out and grabs your bed sock bedecked foot whilst getting into bed.

      I felt none of this whilst or after reading Fluke - a weakly delivered tale that would sit more comfortably in the 'childrens' fantasy' genre rather than 'adult thriller'. In fact, I've subsequently discovered that a family film has been made of this book. Although I haven't seen this film and therefore can't make accurate comments on the comparisons, I would strongly suspect that the film makers didn't have to water down any of the screen play adaptation to make it suitable for a family audience.

      Two out of five stars for this book, very disappointing and unfulfilling.

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        11.11.2009 13:49
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        James Herbert showing he can do more than just horror

        Which is better; the domestic cat or the domestic dog? This is a silly question and is like asking which you would prefer; a million pounds or being forced to endure another season of 'The X Factor'. One of the choices is a joy, the other an evil feline. The way I see it is how long it would take my pet to eat me if I died in the flat and left them with no food. My loyal pooch would begin by lying at my feet and pining for his master; perhaps choosing starvation rather than sully my corpse. A cat on the other hand would be nibbling on my cheeks faster than you can say, "self obsessed preen freak". Cat people like them for their independence and better than thou attitude; these people would be gluttons for punishment and deserving of being ignored by the people in their lives. Dog people like the friendship and unconditional love a dog brings - even if they do stink and gas up the house. It's clear from 'Fluke' that James Herbert is a dog person; but would one of the masters of horror make their mutt into Cerberus?

        He became aware when he was amongst others of his kind in a pen. Instinctually he knew that he had to act cute if he was to be chosen, but he also knew by instinct that he was different. Fluke is a dog who thinks he is a man, or a man who thinks he is a dog. His keen intelligence is more than just doggy brains, but the nagging feeling that he was once a man. He is aware of a wife and child that he had left behind and must try and rediscover, but will they recognise him? On this journey Fluke will come across other creatures, most of them simple in nature, but others with intelligence like his. Can the man inside the dog escape before instinct takes over? Why has he been trapped in this body, or why does he think he used to be a man?

        Over the years I have been greatly entertained by Herbert's tales of horror. He has a very poetic style of writing and graces the page with a supernatural feel rather than OTT horror. However, when he needs to portray the macabre he does it brilliantly like the fire scene in 'The Shrine'. With his back catalogue in mind I decided to read his 1977 novel 'Fluke' only to discover that there are more strings to his bow. Although there are moments of the supernatural (dogs can see ghosts) they have no impact on the story and this is instead the tale of how a dog thinks it is a man and the journey he takes to discover the truth.

        Fluke starts the book as a roaming soul and visits several different homes meaning that it sometimes feels more like a series of short stories than a novel. The sections in the junk yard and with the aggressive granny are particularly good. Despite their enjoyable nature the actual central concept of a dog trying to discover if he had a past life is only mentioned off and on until the final third. Suddenly the book hurtles towards its conclusion as revelations hit Fluke page after page. This gave the book a slightly disjointed feel as the whimsical nature of the majority is replaced with slight thrills towards the end. Any sense of conclusion was not really needed as the journey was the enjoyment.

        This enjoyment is down to the quality of Herbert's writing and his portrayal of Fluke. This is a dog with the instincts of an animal, but also some human intelligence. Therefore, we are treated to explanations about a dog's nature straight from the horse mouth (or in this case the dog). Told entirely in first person from Fluke's perspective the book should be a struggle to read. However, I find Herbert to be one of the most skilled horror writers around and he tackles the life of a dog well.

        This book is not a horror by any standard and instead is a curio for lovers of dogs. Herbert captures the joy of what it must be to act like a dog and uses his usual accomplished prose to put it on the page. As a fan of Herbert I liked 'Fluke' just because it was so gentle compared to his other works - almost a love note to the concept of dogginess. The failings in the narrative to be a complete story is not an issue as the series of tales are better for their piece meal nature and suit the book. Anyone who has an interest in dogs will enjoy the book and perhaps those looking for something completely different to read (unless they have read 'Woof' or 'The Dog Days of Arthur Cane'.)

        Author: James Herbert
        Year: 1977
        Price: amazon uk - £4.49
        play.com - £5.49

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          11.08.2009 20:21

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          nice feel good book

          Well let's start by getting this correct, this book is classed in the Horror Genre and I can't see why.
          Yes it's written by James Herbert but it's no way a horror novel.
          The story is about a guy who is so busy at work he has no time at all for family and his son really misses his dad.
          On the way home on night he his killed when his car leaves the road and the next thing he is a puppy being born. The story then follows to puppy as he grows up and meets other dogs and gets into loads of scrapes. One of the dogs he meets on his travels tells him that when you die your reborn in another form.
          He soon realises that he is attracted to one family he meets which is actually his old family but at first he doesn't know this.
          I don't want to go into the story any more as I would hate to give to much away but it's a very good read.
          Overall if you love good books then I recommend this one. And I think it will bring a tear to you eyes as well.

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          12.11.2002 11:50
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          When James Herbert released his novel "Fluke" it was something of a departure for an author whose previous work had been firmly rooted in the realms of horror fiction. Fluke, still retained a supernatural element of sorts, but was a much more mellow novel focusing upon a man who has been reincarnated as a dog and which posed a few interesting questions about reincarnation and spirituality in general. Of course, it never actually did any exploration of those areas itself, but Herbert hinted at the question and got on with the business of spinning a good yarn, which is what he is best at. Anyway, if you want to read a book review there's plenty of them here and around the web but you won't find one on this page because this is my take on the somewhat critically maligned, but ultimately entertaining film made from it. Umm sorry and all that, but this opinion was written back in July and you get bored waiting for a category to be added dontcha? I'll have it moved later and all that rubbish... James Herbert books have always made for a quick, enjoyable read in my eyes but they've also made for some pretty poor movies in the past(although "The Fog" is great). The worst of which would be made from his most enduring novel The Rats, which would feature dachshund dogs in rat costumes as the protagonists which didn't give me too much hope when I heard that Fluke was to be shown on TV the other week(OK, months ago now). Still, the dog-rats in the former made me laugh on more than one occasion so I gave this a try too and for the most part it was fun. :o) I suppose I should point out that the main actors in this movie are dogs. You see, when Matthew Modine's car is run off the road by his partner after an argument he is reincarnated as a pooch and the movie follows his life as he tries to make sense of the memories in his head and make contact with his wife and child. Born on the streets, he is aptly renamed Fluke by
          a tramp who befriends him as a puppy and eventually falls in with a much older, wiser dog voiced by Samuel L. Jackson. Living on the streets Fluke has flashbacks to a past life and gets a notion in his head that the people he sees are real, used to be his wife and child and are in danger from his old partner. He vows to find them and save them and goes through many adventures on a voyage of self discovery... That's it put simply, not hugely different from the novel as I remember it (but it was a long time ago when I read it!), but with copious dollops of "cute" replacing everything else. It's quite strange when watching to think this actually made it into the movie theatres across the Pond because, despite an all-star cast, its not very well made and does feel a lot like a movie made directly for a television audience. The main cast are of course dogs, whilst the only actor here of any real note in human form is Matthew Modine, who does OK in his very brief flashback human appearances. Also on the cast list however is Samuel L. Jackson(who seems to be everywhere lately doesn't he??) as his older wiser friend, who spins his street smart lines well, but will be keeping this movie quite low down the list on his resume. To be fair, they are given a pretty awful script to work with in the first place, but even so, neither is particularly effective. The story is deeply sappy and general 'ugh', in the kind of way which you'll either hate with a vengeance or be carried along with - kids will probably love it. Just think how deeply sappy it is in premise: a man is reborn as a dog so he can gain some kind of redemption/learn a lesson about how he should have spent more time with his family and perhaps save them from his mean old partner....you'll know whether its for you or not from that alone. Expect also throughout its running length to be subjected to some seriously cringe-worthy, eye rollingly bad bits of cheesiness
          which include the moment where a chimpanzee saves a puppy from an animal testing laboratory and erm, ummm....well most of the movie really, especially when Fluke comes home to his family. It definitely aims for the "awwwww" factor, so I this is the kind of thing which elicits a gag response in you then you will NOT like this movie at all. Personally, I loved it for the animal cast which I'm a sucker for but everything else is quite dire. I'm not sure whether you'd call this a kids movie or not to be honest. Its certainly rated PG but there are scenes in which animals seem to be hurt and one where a dog is shot dead, so be prepared to enter into discussions how they simulated it for the screen - I used to drive my parents crazy with 101 questions about these types of movies - especially (erm make that *only* actually) if it was animals looking as though they were getting hurt(I think humans were fair game!). Just in case you need arming for such an event the AHA were on hand during filming and have detailed what steps were taken to assure no animals were hurt of put through unacceptable levels of discomfort during filming: http://www.ahafilm.info/movies/moviereviews.phtml?fid=6098 Be warned however, that this site also gives away virtually the ENTIRE story, right down to the ending, as it explains how animal safety was ensured throughout which is a bit dumb and does so frequently with its other reviews too. Be prepared also to explain things about death and dying, because despite its sappy premise and poor handling, this is a quite a thought provoking movie, which emphasises the importance of family above all else and introduces the ideas of reincarnation and proposes an idea of 'why' people might be put back on Earth - to learn some lessons they missed first time around. Would I recommend Fluke? Yes, I would(although probably not to buy). If you can deal with the sickening levels of sentimentality and
          ludicrous ideas, it's actually a lot of fun in a brainless "look at the cute puppy dogs acting all humanlike" kind of way. There is no middle ground here, you'll either love it or hate it, trust me. Ultimately this is a movie aimed toward kids in a Disney kind of way so don't expect much in the way of deep and meaningfuls from the script, nor anything more than the hammy acting and slightly patronising/preachy tone, but do expect to be relatively entertained if you can stomach the cuteness of it all.

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            25.08.2001 10:18
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            I had been a fan of James Herbert since reading 'The Rats', and hearing that he had done a non-horror novel made me a little curious as to whether he could pull it off. With 'Fluke' I was pleasantly surprised, he manages to keep the story flowing with all the twists, turns and speed he puts into all of his novels. And the way he manages to combine the human aspect into, and actually place you in the position of Fluke just goes to show what a talented writer he is. From the beginning of the book, Fluke has an inkling that he is not what he appears to be, but it isn't until further in that the haze of his dog mind clears enough for him to remember his old life as a man. But with this remembrance comes another realisation, that one of his old friends may have been responsible for the death of his former body, and seemed to had moved in on his former life completely. I found it easy to get into and keep interest in the story, and much too difficult to put down (I ended up reading it practically right through one night when I had school the following day).

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              16.08.2001 19:57
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              This was the first James Herbert story that I every read and I was enthralled. A wonderful tale of a dog who realises he was once a man, and his journey through life and the country in his new form. I laughed and cried constantly at his antics. Such a difficult story for anyone to write and to keep believable, and yet Herbert takles it so well. The reader follows the self named mongrel 'fluke' through his remembering to the realsation of his own untimely death as a man, and his suspicions over who was responsible (and why) for this. As he tries to gain some sense from this, he is also trying to survive as a stray dog in a man's world. Wonderfuly humerous and moving, Herbert succeeds on many levels with "Fluke". It may sound like a realy wierd story-line (and it is) and suited more to a childrens book, but I have to tell you that Herbert pulls this off. He does so with humour and not a little 'tongue in cheek'. It has many twists and turns, drama and excitment. As it is wrote in the first person by 'Fluke' himself, you be wondering how a dog (for all his past life) could have possably told his story, well this question is answered, but not until the very end. In all, you may have to suspend disbelief for a while, but this ripping yarn is worth the effort of kidding yourself. After all that is what fiction if all about, is it not?

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                18.07.2001 00:42
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                This is much different than any other James Herbert book you will read. Herbert is renowned for his dark, chilling horror books but Fluke could never be classed as anything like a horror book. The story begins with a dog, (he is not named Fluke until later) among other dogs, in kennels. He begins to realise that he is not like the others and seems more intelligent. He starts having flashbacks of being a man, and after escaping the kennels he begins on a voyage of discovery to try and find out who he really is/was. He interacts with other animals like himself, who also seem more intelligent, although not all of them want to believe they were anything before being what they are now. Fluke gets into much trouble, though learns alot from his mistakes, and eventually finds out the truth. This book is a very unique piece of literature. Herbert abandons his normal horror style to write something completly different. Although it is something different, he still manages to pull in the reader just as well and creates a marvelous book. He covers many serious issues in this book, and i'm sure all of us will think twice about life (or more likely think twice about death) after reading Fluke. I recommend this book to anyone, especially those looking for something a bit different.

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                  26.04.2001 08:37
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                  I am a great fan of books written by James Herbert having read in the past every book I could lay my hands on. Fluke was a great suprise and a change from a lot of his work I had read in the past. Fluke is a pup that is born on a hot day,his owners called him fluke, because it was a fluke that he was even born. From the time he opened his eyes he knew he was different, he didn't know how he knew he just did. The food was different, the smells were different, what or how he didn't know. He had entered a world that seemed strange. His voice said *bark* his brain said, well he didn't know really, it just didn't seem right. Everything around him was 'strange'. I cant be a dog he thinks I 'dont like the food'. But I must be i've got 4 legs and a tail As time goes on he starts to accept that , yes i must be a dog, He gets friendly with a 'mutt' from the block they take to go raiding the rubbish bins and stealing meat from the shops, and thinks' what a good life' untill!!!! He sees a MAN hm he thinks he looks familiar and starts to follow him. He leads him to a house hm that looks familiar as well. It's then that fluke sees the lady of the house, he rushes up and starts to 'talk',*bark*, hey its me Fluke you know me. She gives him a pat on the head but Fluke is not none of that *It is all flooding back* this was his wife, He was the man that murdered him. Whats that man doing with my wife *barks* 'shouts' Fluke. Its then that Fluke starts having flashbacks about his previouse life. He starts to realise he has been re born so that he can catch his killer. He is determined that 'he will succeed in his quest for justice' There are many twists and turns in the rest of the story, a lot of tears and sadness, tears of joy and just plain down laughter. This book is a treat to read, you must read it yourself to get
                  to know the rest of the story. good reading

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                    18.01.2001 18:47
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                    Fluke is one of my favourite james herbert books. Its so different to any book ive read before. James herbert has an extrodanary mind to be able to write about a man being trapped in a dogs body. Throughout the book i couldnt help feeling sorry for fluke, every time something seems to go right for him another bad thing seems to happen. This book has made me smile and cry. Fluke isnt quite a normal james herbert book its not as outrages and scary/twisted but it still manages to over come me with greatness for this man. I feel the film that was based on this book did not give it justice. One of the reasons being it was made for younger children. 3/4 of the story was not correct and it was just plane stupid and not belivable. Like i said before Fluke is great and id advise any 1 to read it.

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                      18.12.2000 03:06
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                      I read this one years ago and haven’t had the opportunity (or inclination if truth be know) to read it again so my memory of the book is probably too jaded to give a real overview. Basically though it is a story of a dog that isn’t a dog, or at least it doesn’t think it’s a dog even though it is ….. confused ? Although its not a complicated plot (despite the above sentence) you do have to try and put yourself in the position of a man who isn’t a man but is a dog who doesn’t realise he’s a man although he has man thoughts … NOW your confused !! I’ll try and explain a bit more, the outline of the story is that of a dog called Fluke who realises he is different from other dogs but he doesn’t know why. It's only as he gets older that he realises the significance of some of his thoughts and it becomes clear he is really a man trapped inside the body of a dog. The story then progresses as he try’s to discover why. It is not a horror in the true sense of the word (although it does make you look at dogs in a different light) but it is still a very entertaining piece of work. As for my comment earlier about not having the inclination to read it again, this is not for any negative reason it is simply because there is so many more James Herbert books that I have to get through !!

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                        10.07.2000 01:57
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                        Most people think that James Herbert writes Horror stories to the exclusion of all else, well this is almost true, but if you get the chance try reading Fluke. This is a story about reincarnation, not in a religious sense, but in an everyday sort of way. Fluke is a dog who from the moment of his birth thinks he is a man, at first his memory of his past life is very hazy, but gradually, he begins to realise that he has a mission,to get revenge on his old business partner who he thinks is responsible for his demise. Along the way he meets up with lots of interesting characters, and quite a few dangerous ones,(none more so than the apparently sweet old lady who takes him in and proceeds to make his life a misery). Herbert has a way of writing stories that drag you in to the plot,every chapter is eagerly sought for and you find yourself immersed in a witty, plausable(not),and cleverly written story.You will laugh,cry and grieve with Fluke, particularly when his closest friend Rumbo meets an untimely demise. This is one James Herbert book that you could let the kids read and not worry too much about nightmares, all in all a great read. NB There was a film made of this book starring Mathew Modine, Give it a miss, the book is a million times better.

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                    • Product Details

                      From an early age, Fluke knew he wasn't an ordinary dog - strange memories of another life told him that once he had been a man.