John Book’s a career Internal Affairs cop, policing the police. Once his witness’ identity is exposed and he’s at risk from the murderers, all Book’s activities pertain to protecting Samuel.
The righteous Book’s job is to catch the bad guys, and to do that he employs whatever means works, violent or non-violent. Rachel and Samuel realize that his use of violence and weaponry is appropriate and the only way to stop Schaeffer’s thugs and stay alive, which goes against the pacifist way they’ve been raised as Amish.
Elaine has told Rachel about her self-righteous brother Book:
RACHEL: [...] you like policing because you think you’re right about everything. And you’re the only one who can do anything.
(Wallace and Kelley, p. 34)
Book’s eager to solve the murder case, which he sees as his case:
BOOK: Look, I’m genuinely sorry…
RACHEL: No you’re not—You’re glad, because now you’ve got a witness.
(Wallace and Kelley, p. 32)
Angered over Carter’s death, Book petulantly takes out his frustration on an unsuspecting redneck by busting his nose.
Policing the police and being hated by his colleagues for it, Book protects society from policemen who’ve “lost the meaning”; Book protects Rachel’s identity by having her case file destroyed by Carter, though that action destroys him, too; Book holds his hormones in check regarding Rachel so as to avoid disrupting the community; He sends Samuel away from the farm, staying to face Schaeffer’s men alone; Book surrenders to Schaeffer in order to save Rachel.
Realizing that he and Rachel will never work as a couple, Book refrains from indulging himself sexually with her so it’ll be easier for her to stay; In the name of justice, he never hesitates to place the safety of his witness Samuel and Rachel above his own.
Once shot, Book’s first instinct is to help Rachel and Samuel by getting them home to safety; The ever-helpful Book instructs Samuel in the correct handling of a gun, to Rachel and Eli’s distress; Book’s going to his mentor Schaeffer for help capturing McFee informs the bad guys of Book’s intentions.
If Book obstructed Samuel’s fascination with the gun, he’d cause less friction with the Amish; If he was less eager to prove himself worthy by pitching in with the barn, Rachel’s dreams of him as a husband wouldn’t be falsely encouraged; His delaying tactics over possible lovemaking with Rachel makes it easier for him to leave her; Book’s getting Carter to lose Rachel’s case files hinders Schaeffer’s pursuit of him.
Book is outspoken in his lack of respect for Rachel’s Amish lifestyle:
RACHEL: Enjoying your reading?
BOOK: Very interesting. I’m learning a lot about manure.
RACHEL: Buttons are hochmut. [...] Vain. Proud.
BOOK: Anything against zippers?
RACHEL: You make fun of me. Like the tourists. [...] They seem to think we are quaint.
BOOK: Quaint? Can’t imagine why.
(Wallace and Kelley, p. 63-64)
His inducing her to dance, against her religious beliefs, gets her in trouble with Eli.
Book tries to appease Rachel by supporting her gun-control policy:
“He hands her the holstered gun and the loose bullets.
BOOK: Put it up someplace Samuel can’t get it.
A beat, then Rachel takes the pistol and starts to go. Book stops her.
Rachel glances back at him, smiles and nods.”
(Wallace and Kelley, p. 61)
By not getting involved with Rachel and leaving her, Book endorses her staying on the farm by default, and supports Daniel’s efforts as her suitor.
Rather than indulge his lust with Rachel, Book thinks of the consequences of his intended act, and does the right thing instead of the wild thing:
BOOK: If we’d made love last night, I’d have to stay. Or you’d have to leave.
Book’s sense of commitment to the Amish people he’s bonded with, particularly Samuel and Rachel, make him hesitant about leaving them behind. In Book’s final scene with Rachel, each looks longingly at each other, but neither can ask the other to commit to a change in lifestyle.
In Philadelphia, Book investigates the murder in standard fashion, exposing Samuel and Rachel to lineups, mugshots, and the whacking of the usual suspects; While recovering at the Lapp farm and distracted by Rachel’s charms, Book ignores his goal while milking cows, doing carpentry, barn-raising, and eventually fixing the car; Delaying too long, Book’s goal comes to him in the form of Schaeffer’s men: he leads them through the labyrinth of the barn, dodging cows, climbing ladders, killing the clueless Fergie with kernels in the silo, shooting McFee.
More Influence Character Information →
- Influence Character Description
“JOHN BOOK, who comes striding through to be momentarily lost in the crowd of police, reporters and others. He is about 40, with a rangy, athletic body.”
(Wallace and Kelley, p. 13)
- Influence Character Throughline Synopsis
Unpopular Internal Affairs detective John Book takes the case when an undercover narcotics cop is murdered. Discovering his boss’s involvement, the wounded Book hides out in the Amish community of his witness, Samuel. Nurtured by the boy’s mother Rachel, he recovers and gains the respect of the Amish. Though the community rallies round him to help defeat his pursuers, he doesn’t really belong, and relinquishes his love for Rachel to return to the big city.
- Influence Character Backstory
In a scene from the screenplay not used in the film, Book’s ex-boss tries to persuade him not to investigate the murder:
DONAHUE: It’s still not your job. (pauses) Look John, why don’t you come back to Homicide where you belong?
BOOK: Let’s just say it’s a career move.
DONAHUE: Stick with Internal Affairs and you’re not gonna have—any—friends left.
BOOK: I’ll buy a dog.
(Wallace and Kelley, p. 31A)
Living... in Philadelphia, but he had to leave in a hurry. John found out some things he shouldn’t have, and now some dirty cops are trying to kill him – and they came pretty close already. He got shot, and couldn’t even go to the hospital for fear they’d find him. So now he’s on the run, trying to find somewhere to hide where the corrupt cops wouldn’t think to look for him.
Visiting... rural Amish country. He's staying with Rachel, an Amish widow who had come to the station with her son Samuel. Samuel witnessed a murder and identified the suspects, who turn out to be John’s fellow cops. Now they want Samuel and John dead. So John and Rachel need each other – John needs her to help him hide out until he recovers, and Rachel needs him to protect her son.
Profession... police officer. But he is on the run after finding out that some of his fellow officers committed murder, and that 55 confiscated gallons of P2P have gone missing. John is out to expose them – if they don't kill him first.
Relationship Status... single, but slowly getting interested in Rachel. She didn't like him at first and called him agaanisish, which he assumes is not a good thing. Over time, she has started to warm up to John, and he has learned to understand her world a little better. But the relationship is complicated given their different worlds. As John once puts it, “If we'd made love last night I'd have to stay. Or you'd have to leave.”
Challenge... keeping Samuel and Rachel safe as he figures out how to stop the dirty cops who are after them. At first John's goal was to convince Rachel to allow Samuel to testify as a potential witness, but now the situation has escalated well past that. The men after John have no intention of letting anything get to a courtroom. Amish country has made for a very nice hideout for John as he recovers from his wounds, growing closer to Rachel and learning from her and her people. But some violent, determined, and well-connected men are after them, and until they are neutralized nobody is truly safe – not even on an Amish farm.
Personality... capable, cocky, and cynical. But Rachel is a good influence on him. John is a better man in Amish country.
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