I was real ticked off at John Grisham after "The Broker". That was one bad novel, and I thought he was just trying to cash in on his name. With "The Racketeer" I'm happy to say that the real John Grisham is still alive and kicking.
The book is not exactly a legal thriller, although there is quite a lot of legal res gestae. It's more man-against-the-system, and the outcome is very satisfying. The protagonist, Mal Bannister (aka Max Baldwin) comes off as a very real and believable character. Grisham gives him plenty of depth and charisma, and you'll soon find yourself rooting for him.
The plot has plenty of twists. As the book unfolds explanations of things previously described come out in the narrative, like pulling the strings of a package to wrap it up nice and tight. You may be able to figure out a good bit of what's really going on, but there will be enough left to keep you turning pages (so to speak).
I though J.D. Jackson did a great job. As for his pacing, the narrative made clear that he had made an attempt to change his identity, and part of that change involved speaking more deeply and more slowly.
There were a few stretches required of my imagination. Like, if some hardened criminals wind up with a whole lot of money, are they really going to turn into good guys? And, can an ex-con own a bar? You'd think that would place him in contact with other convicted felons from time to time, which sounds risky to me.
On the whole this was a very good book, and well worth your time.
It's bad news for narrator Robin Sachs because Nesbø makes clear in the first couple of pages that Harry's last name is not pronounced like the English "hole" the way Robin did it in several other Harry Hole books. What will Robin do if he's the narrator in a future Harry Hole book?
In "The Bat" the Aussies render Harry's name as "holy" which, Harry admits, is better than being called a hairy orifice. I think Thor Knai had it about right in "Nemesis" when he pronounced it "hOO-luh", at least if Google Translate's pronunciation feature is right.
Sean Barrett does a nice job, though he doesn't impart much tough-guy to Harry's character. On a scale of Hercule Poirot to Philip Marlowe, this rendition is somewhere in the middle. And Harry surely is a tough guy, wading into fights with bad Aussies in a bar. On examining his broken tooth, Harry asks the guy who broke it "Shouldn't the pulp be red?"
Narration aside, it's a great read. I'm really glad this book, the first in the Harry Hole series, got translated. You get a good bit of Harry's back story here, but none of it is necessary to enjoy the other books in the series. Each of Nesbø's Harry Hole novels pretty much stands alone, and you can read them in just about any order.
I didn't see the translator's name credited for this book, but whoever (Don Bartlett?) did it it is seamless. When I hear word-play or puns in a translated work, I always wonder how they were rendered in the original? Well, they're funny in English, so I suppose they were in Norwegian too, though maybe different.
I believe the second book in the series ("The Cockroach") has been or is being translated. Something to look forward to!
Now that I have read this, a genuine five-star book narrated by a five-star narrator, I feel bad about those five-star ratings I gave several other books in the same genre.
I love plots like this: tight, intricate, and credible. There are no dead-ends or red herrings. Everything that happens happens for a reason, and Hart unfolds the reasons with tight narration and dialog. There is a mystery here that runs deep in Adam Chase's family's past, with secret relationships and hidden motives. As the tale was spun I felt several times that I had it figured out, but I didn't, not until the end. More clever readers than I probably will see what's coming - my wife always does - but I was continually surprised and greatly entertained.
The characters are all the strong southern men and women that actually do populate large parts of North Carolina. The way they're portrayed by Hart reminded me of works about the Scots-Irish in the South, particularly Jim Webb's "Born Fighting". The characters' qualities are brought out by Hart's artistry, aided hugely by Scott Sowers' rendition. I've listened to a lot of Scott's narrations before, and this to me was his best ever. He's a Virginian himself, and he slips into North Carolina speech naturally. No drawling, just the accent and clear enunciation of the Piedmont.
This book was my fourth pick made by looking through Audible's list of Edgar winners. It's turning out that even-numbered picks were successes, odd-numbered ones not so much. My aim was to discover new mystery and suspense authors and gorge on their works. Sadly, Hart's output to-date is only four books. But what a rich feast it's turning out to be!
On a level with Scott Turow? You bet.