The Hancock Boys
(Originally Published by Bantam Books March 2000)
The Hancock Boys is a wild ride, a uniquely terrifying thriller that breaks all ten of the Ten Commandments… with a vengeance.
The Hancock Boys embraces the Seven Deadly Sins… with gusto.
Come and meet The Hancock Boys. John and Will. Identical twins. Indistinguishable in every way. Right down to the Life they lead. And the Wife they share.
Not since Cain and Abel have there been two brothers like John and Will Hancock.
Thomas William Simpson, the author of such diverse titles as The Caretaker, Full Moon Over America, The Passage, and The Affair, has written a captivating tale of revenge, brotherly love, fame, fortune, and marital intrigue.
So what would happen if two identical twin brothers decided to share a career, a wife, a family, a life? What might such a decision mean? Where might it lead them? And what might be the consequences?
Well, this is precisely what the Hancock brothers of Boston, Massachusetts have done. And now they take turns playing the role of the perfect husband, father, and bestselling author while the other brother gallivants around the globe living out his wildest fantasies.
It seems like the perfect setup. The best of all possible worlds.
But it can’t last. Can it?
What will happen if one of them pushes the game too far?
What if there is someone out there who knows their secret?
And perhaps most terrifying of all, what if one of the brothers thinks the other brother is teetering on the brink of a breakdown, on the edge of madness?
The Hancock brothers both begin to sense the gig is almost up, their insane game very nearly over. And so they both have plans to protect their marriage, their skyrocketing career, the perfect life they lead.
Any residual trust now shattered, the brothers realize they must become one. But which brother will make the ultimate sacrifice?
The Hancock Boys—two brothers playing the definitive cat and mouse game. One must die so the other may live.
That flap copy for The Hancock Boys, written by the publicity department at Bantam and reprinted here, is an interesting but entirely unsatisfying take on this wild, hilarious, and cynical novel. Flap copy is meant to pique your interest, get you to open the book, peruse a few pages. But this copy doesn’t even scratch the surface of the ride ahead.
Sure, The Hancock Boys is about twin brothers who marry the same woman and after awhile their crazy scheme starts to go awry. But in reality this psycho romp is about the bizarre cast of characters hacking and flailing their way through these pages.
I have used identical twins frequently in my work. There are identical twin brothers in This Way Madness Lies and identical twin sisters in A Brief History of Women in America. But The Hancock Boys takes identical twins to a new level. Those other novels could exist without the presence of identical twins; not so The Hancock Boys.
The whole premise of the absurdist plot is predicated on John and Will Hancock being perfect mirror images of one another.
Identical twins interest me because I see so many different, and often opposing, traits within myself. Identical twins present to the world the same face, the same mannerisms, often times even the same persona, but in truth they are two wholly separate beings.
So what would happen, I wondered, if two people—two identical twin brothers—shared one life? That question led to the creation of The Hancock Boys.
At the same time I was under pressure, really for the first time in my career, to write something fully commercial, something that would make my publisher, and hopefully myself, some serious jing. Unfortunately, my writing is by and large spontaneous, impulsive, unstructured. I often conceive my stories in a single instant of inspiration. Calculation plays but a very small role.
I had very good intentions to maintain control over the Hancock brothers, to keep them in line, but all too soon, as inevitably happens in my stories, they, and their supporting cast, took the reins. All I could do was sit back and watch. A good, well disciplined commercial novelist knows how to run roughshod over his characters, how to get them to do what his readers expect. I do not possess this talent. I get up in the morning, make my espresso, sit at my desk, flex my fingers, and allow the whims of fancy to blow me where they will.
The Hancock brothers, along with Clara and Zelda and Babe and Gerdy and Maxwell and Dicky and Nicky and Sylvia, took me on a wild and chaotic ride.
It’s interesting. I think most writers write because it gives them a sense of control. They create perfect little worlds complete with place, plot, and character. But it dawns on me, after all these years, that I write to give up control, set myself free, allow my creativity and emotion to pour forth unabated.