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The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag | [Robert A. Heinlein]

The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag

Jonathan Hoag has a curious problem. Every evening, he finds a mysterious reddish substance under his fingernails, with no memory what he was doing during the day to get it there. Jonathan hires the husband and wife detective team of Ted and Cynthia Randall to follow him during the day and find out. But Ted and Cynthia find themselves instantly out of their depth. Jonathan leaves no fingerprints. His few memories about his profession turn out to be false.
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Publisher's Summary

Jonathan Hoag has a curious problem. Every evening, he finds a mysterious reddish substance under his fingernails, with no memory what he was doing during the day to get it there. Jonathan hires the husband and wife detective team of Ted and Cynthia Randall to follow him during the day and find out. But Ted and Cynthia find themselves instantly out of their depth. Jonathan leaves no fingerprints. His few memories about his profession turn out to be false. Even stranger, Ted and Cynthia's own memories of what happens during their investigation do not match. There is a thirteenth floor to Jonathan's building that does not exist, there are mysterious and threatening beings living inside mirrors, and all of reality is not what they thought it was. Part supernatural thriller, part noir detective story, Heinlein's trip down the rabbit hole leads where you never expected.

©2003 the Robert A. & Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

Part supernatural thriller, part noir detective story, Heinlein's trip down the rabbit hole leads where you never expected. Currently in development to be a feature film.
"One of the grand masters of science fiction." (Wall Street Journal)
"The most influential science fiction writer of all time!" (Locus)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (106 )
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3.9 (52 )
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4.1 (50 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Mark Williams LOVELAND, CO, US 07-02-12
    Mark Williams LOVELAND, CO, US 07-02-12
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    "1950's Detective Sci Fi at it finest!"
    If you could sum up The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag in three words, what would they be?

    Three word summation: Smoke and mirrors...Maybe that's what "reality" actually is.


    What other book might you compare The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag to and why?

    Robert Heinlein wrote the classic "Stranger In A Strange Land" as well as a later work, "Job", and I could see thematic elements of both these later novels in "The Unpleasent Profession Of Jonathan Hoag." I started reading sci fi by reading some of my dad's collection of '40's/'50's pulp magazines such "Astounding Stores", "Worlds Of If", "Analog" etc. and this novel was reminiscent of many of those old stores. As I listened to this story unfold, I was picturing an old black and white movie shot in the late 1940's. I always enjoyed those old mysteries! The revelation of what Mr. Hoag actually was up to immediately brought to mind an episode of The Twilight Zone, and a certain Stephen King story which shall remain unnamed because if I named it, you'd have the mystery solved before you read the the book!


    Which scene was your favorite?

    My favorite scene was when Ted Randall is brought before The Son's Of The Bird and warned against have any dealings with Mr. Hoag. And of course the last few scenes where what Mr. Hoag has been up to is finally revealed were also very enjoyable.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Having read this book decades ago, my main reaction was the pleasure of rediscovering a good old Robert Heinlein yarn as only R.H. can spin them.


    Any additional comments?

    For my money, there are few authors of speculative fiction, living or dead, who have written such a thoroughly enjoyable body of work as Robert Heinlein. I look forward to listening to them all again!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pie Saint Petersburg, FL, United States 01-01-11
    Pie Saint Petersburg, FL, United States 01-01-11 Listener Since 2007
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    "Interesting :)"

    Minor details do date the story (a tad bit), in a quaint way. BUT...the other thing that "dates" it, is the "out of the box" thinking that this period of sci-fi writers did quite well. A balance is struck between the ways the story could be called "dated"... and the latter wins (in my book). LOL. BIGtime :)

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Niels J. Rasmussen Edmonton, Alberta Canada 04-18-14
    Niels J. Rasmussen Edmonton, Alberta Canada 04-18-14 Member Since 2012

    Dr. Nils Rasmussen

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    "Brilliant Sci-Fi Detective Action!"
    Any additional comments?

    This is truly such a unique story that I believe it would translate into an excellent film. It's not often that you see the cross between detective mystery fiction and sci-fi, but it honestly REALLY works. The book is only around a 4 hour listen but TOTALLY worth the price of a credit. You won't be sorry you listened to this one.

    9.5 / 10

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Placentia, CA, United States 08-27-11
    David Placentia, CA, United States 08-27-11
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    "Flat, unflattering narator ruins the experience."

    I don't even know how good or bad the book itself is. I really could not bare to listen through any more than about 15 minutes of it because the narator does such a terrible job. He is flat, stolid, and unemotional. He gives the characters absolutely no character. It's like listening to a robot talk.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joel Columbia, MD, United States 12-12-10
    Joel Columbia, MD, United States 12-12-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good, not great"

    I'm not a huge fan of Heinlein, but I took a chance on this one. I wasn't terribly surprised...I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it.

    The plot goes as follows: Jonathan Hoag seems to have no memory of his job---he doesn't know what he does for a living and seems to have no memory of working hours. So, he hires a husband-and-wife detective agency to tail him when he goes to work, but they get tangled in a larger and more confusing mess...

    As an adventure tale, the story is only so-so. There is some interesting discourse on dreams, memory and perception on the nature of reality...themes that would be explored more thoroughly by Philip K. Dick a few decades later.

    Overall, I think the story was reasonably well-written, with the mystery unfolding slowly. I did find the ending somewhat unsatisfying.

    Tom Weiner did a really good job as the narrator.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hoya Jack 04-11-10
    Hoya Jack 04-11-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Intreiging"

    Yes these words strung so carefully together in such a way as to draw you into its intregue loving this love it .

    0 of 4 people found this review helpful
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