63 y/o psychologist with two sons, living in SF Bay Area. I absolutely love all the feedback I've been getting for my reviews. It's very gratifying. Thanks to all of you.
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.
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.
This is the second book in the Liam Mulligan series, and I hope there are many more brewing in the mind of Mr. DeSilva. Mulligan is a throwback, a reporter who works in the palpably dying newspaper industry in Providence, Rhode Island. I know almost nothing about Providence, other than the fact that a former mayor named Rudy Cianci did about four years in a federal prison for corruption. The atmosphere created by DeSilva and Workman oozes corruption like a dead body stinks, if I may. The killings come fast and furious. This is not great literature, but it is great fun, and Mr. Workman in particular is the ideal narrator. His voicings are exactly right. There is a minor love story which tantalizes you, and in which you find yourself wanting to put words in Mulligan's mouth. There are numerous distractions, including the ex-wife, Dorcas, whose customized ring tone on Mulligan's phone is the first few bars of the song "Bitch." The action converges from multiple fronts, and, like most terrific thriller writers, I dare you to guess whodunit. I just could not stop listening to this. There are chuckles and rueful sighs, as we listen to Mulligan's world circle the drain. He is left standing, but the lessons he learns are bitter. It is only the skill of both Mr. DeSilva and of Mr. Workman which is sweet, indeed. Read on.
I like mysteries (particularly British ones, historical fiction and nonfiction, science fiction and fantasy.
Originally, I wrote this review for the Vine program on Amazon. So I didn't pay for the book. Then I ran down a copy of the CD audio book through a friend. I fell in like with the narrator. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith has a fantastic voice for this book-- actually he has a lovely voice for reading anything. I cannot imagine Peter Grant being read by any other narrator. He also does a great job with the other characters. I purchased this from audible because I have not actually paid for a copy of this book until now and because I wanted Audible to keep bringing good audio books like this to the US.
Ok, ignore any references to grown up Harry Potter. Yes, the hero does end up apprenticed to a wizard but that's where the resemblance ends. Peter Grant starts as a probationary constable in the London Metropolitan Police. His father is a drunken jazz musician while his mother cleans offices for a living. Peter wants to become a detective on the murder squad. However, Peter is not the ideal candidate for any of the high profile squads. He is though the ideal candidate for one very obscure squad with a total membership of 2, counting Peter.
Things I liked-- Aaronovitch writes about a multicultural London. Peter is mixed race and writes about his experiences with a serio-comic turn that I really like. He's smart, quick thinking and funny so reading from his viewpoint is a pleasant. Dark humor punctuates bouts of well described action.
The book actually comes across as a police procedural, even as Peter deals with issues like a dispute between Father Thames and Mother Thames-- which gives the book it's British title, Rivers of London. I like that title better any way..
The next one is available on Audible already. I hope other readers enjoy this book as much as I have.