I am a 65-year-old psychologist, married for 25 years, with two sons who are 25 and 22. I love reviewing the books and the feedback I get.
James Lee Burke created Dave Robicheaux 25 years ago, in The Neon Rain, in 1987. Burke is a brilliant writer. His ability to describe the place of his birth, Southern Louisiana, is unparalleled. New Orleans and Iberia Parish are places that you want to visit, because Mr. Burke has captured them so vividly. Likewise, Dave Robicheaux is such a vivid creation that you almost believe he is flesh and blood. Dave and his best friend, Clete Purcel, have suffered in their lives, the rages of alcoholism and Viet Nam, among other curses. Dave has married twice and has adopted Alafair, in a rescue scene so extraordinary that I remember it clearly, almost a decade later. Alafair Burke is now a novelist herself, in the real world. These books are full of violence and thoughtfulness, scholarly reasoning and deep moral convictions. In this book the bad guys are horrendous, a family named Duprix, wealthy and sinister, an incestuous grandfather at the top, a man who was also a highly-placed Nazi at one of the death camps. The reading is not for the faint of heart or stomach, but it is brilliant for all of that. Will Patton is perfect for these books. His voices are of extraordinary range and expressiveness. Male or female, his characters speak with astonishingly human voices and a range of emotions that rival those of the best narrators. I began reading Dave Robicheaux books 25 years ago, and I hope to keep reading them for a long time. James Lee Burke has lost none of his unique talent, and it is a pleasure for me to be able to recommend his work to you. It is thrilling.
You can have your Stone Barrington, thank you very much. Just the name says phony and contrived. I have tried a couple of those, plus the others, Ed Eagle, Hothouse Whatever, etc. This is Woods' first book, and, IMHO, his best. It is worth reading the Wikipedia paragraph about this book. Woods would eventually become one of our generation's most prolific authors, making his publishers and agents quite rich, I am sure. However, much of what he has written since Chiefs is forced, formulaic, and designed to sell like hotcakes. Fine. Chiefs, though, seems clearly autobiographical, to the degree that many of the best writers' early works often do. The multi-generational story of Will Lee and the town of Delano, Georgia grabs you very quickly, and, without the modern tricks of hyped-up violence and scary suspense, Mr. Woods holds you with a tale that is completely genuine and passionate. He loves his characters, and we know it. Will Lee himself is a wonderful protagonist: we are almost immediately on his side, and Mr. Woods develops Will Henry's life (his friends call him Will Henry, out of Southern affection. The only man who calls him "Lee" is the loose cannon Foxy Funderburk, who is insanely jealous that Will was chosen as the first chief of police in Delano rather than him.)
The other characters are also fully drawn: Will's wife and family, the banker Hugh Holmes, who gambled big on the new town and got rich very quickly. One of the first scenes is Will's accidental arrest of two drunk rednecks who have robbed Holmes' bank. They come careening around the bank in a huge old Packard, or something, while Will happens to be holding an old, rusty Colt .45 just given to him by the town doctor and council member Frank Mudter. The whole town (a thousand people) calls Will a hero, and he is off to the races, albeit in a slow, gentlemanly Southern way.
Mr. Woods was born and raised in Georgia, and it shows. He is extremely fond of almost everything about the South. He depicts the racial/slavery issues with deep compassion. He understands the life of people who may live in this country but have little in common, it would seem, with most of us middle-class regular guys and gals (gals? I'm becoming a Southerner!). He also handles the issue of alcohol (Georgia was a dry state at the time of this book) with great skill and delicacy. Basically, every single thing about this book is wonderful. If you want the best of Stuart Woods, start here.
If you want the best of Mark Hammer, you could well start here too. His voice is just so mellow, slow and easy, never pushed or hurried, warmly funny and also very loving towards the characters. He manages a Southern drawl with ease and great skill. You just have to listen to him to truly understand the richness of an audiobook. Reading with the eyes is fine, but a great performer like Mark Hammer adds a unique dimension to the work.
I just plain loved every little thang about this book, and I surely hope that y'all do, too.
This is about the seventh book in the Andy Carpenter series, and by now we have come to know the loosely-formed family around Andy. Each case he takes on is interesting, and he always finds ways to tell us things about his dog, Tara, and his dog rescue foundation, The Tara Foundation, run by a guy he sprung from prison on a trumped-up charge. The current case takes Andy into mob territory, which is common for him, despite the fact that he paints himself as something of a schlemiel. What initially looks like two local murders turns into something extremely larger. The very end of the book is another twist of our expectations, which I have come to appreciate from Rosenfelt. Grover Gardner can simply do no wrong. No matter what the subject, he has one of the friendliest, most comfortable voices around, and it is always a pleasure to listen to him. These books are not great literature, and they are not meant to be: they are fun. Period. They may be a bit formulaic, but if you like the formula, as I do, then that just doesn't bother. I also like the quirk that Andy is wealthy and doesn't have to work, meaning that each case he takes on has to grab him in some way. If I won the lottery, as people say, this is what I would do with my life. Turning the books into mass-market successes is the icing on the cake.