Say something about yourself!
Two tops in their fields bring their A-game to this production and the result of this perfect union is Creole Belle. Burke is so highly regarded in the literary world that any praise seems redundant and almost cliche; if you've read his works, you know this already. One critic said that "nobody can touch Burke in lyrical expression..." Will Patton, with his smart interpretation skills, is one of the best narrators in the business. With a voice rich in texture and hypnotic appeal, he enhances everything I've heard him read. The two of them together are a match made in audible heaven. I could listen to this collaboration and be lost in words and voice - almost forget to hear the story if it wasn't so explosive.
I'm assuming that readers of this 19th in the Robicheaux series know the basics. This book picks up at The Glass Rainbow's conclusion, and begins a new adventure for the well-seasoned team of Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcel. A darker and more complex plot than previous books, involving drug runners, human trafficking, art forgery, Nazi war criminals, the Gulf oil *spill,* and as always...a cast of characters as wonderful as their names, and the ruination of Robicheaux's beloved Louisiana wetlands. (With some fascinating, and alarming, insights in to oil rigs - Burke himself having worked on oil rigs in the gulf). Burke has stated that Dave and Clete are "actually one character; they are opposite sides of the same coin," and this time he focuses more sharply on Clete, revealing the differences, and the similarities, in this duo. He also writes more about the forces that shaped the characters in this novel. Creole Belle is comfortably familiar, but not a re-telling of the same story, and Burke somehow manages to add new dimensionality to this already dynamic team with each book.
[* an aside for anyone that might be thinking 19th?! Why jump in now?: Like many book-series, these books can be picked up at any point and enjoyed. Burke often includes backstories; some avid followers might accuse him of repeating portions of previous books, but this practice makes it possible for each novel to be read as its own story. It's more a *pleasurable advantage* to grow-up with the characters, than a *necessity*. I have read several, but not all of the previous 19 novels.]
Some readers say that Burke tends to be too poetic or reflective, that he ruminates and reminisces...my opinion (call me antiquarian)...I love listening to anything he has to say! Burke's poetic style and beautiful atmospheric writing is magical and mesmerizing to me. Just listening to Will Patton read James Lee Burke - I am captivated each time. Highly recommend.
"Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start..." Say you've seen those books over the years, the ones with the little subtitle, "A Jack Reacher Novel", seen they were the 8th in a series, the 12th in a series, and now here comes the 16th, and you've passed them by because who wants to start in the middle? Here is the perfect chance to come on board! With 15 previous novels inspired by this Jack Reacher, you know this has got to be one interesting guy. Why now? Because The Affair is how it all got started (why nomad Jack likes his toothbrush). A brilliant idea by multi award winning author Lee Child; show the reader the etiology of the coffee guzzling, rapier witted, ex-military sleuth as he himself recalls,"I remember the date...the 11th of March 1997..." and thus begins the legend of Jack Reacher as he walks away from the Pentagon. As usual, lots of action, sharp humor, a colorful cast of characters, and a train that speeds through the one-diner town rattling more than the tracks. Dick Hill has been narrating Reacher books for a while and seems to have a great time with this one, particularly some of the scenes involving the train--talk about gusto! Childs has it down to a formula, churning out consistently top rated mystery thrillers, and while it may be predictable--it's never boring to travel along with Reacher. Reacher fans will love this one--newcomers will be jumping on the band wagon--or the train. [Next stop for newbies...#1 in the series, Killing Floor, *Now in movie production: Tom Cruise playing Reacher (some fans are up in arms) #9 in the series, One Shot.]
An intricate knot tied with precision, and untangled with logic and grace. To begin with there is a mystery, and Collins lays it out with attention to every twist as the story continues to be told by the various narrators. The characters are as vivid as those created by other 19th century writers: Dickens, the Bronte sisters, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe--Frederick Fairlie with his imagined maladies is good comedy, and Sir Percival and Count Fosco, in comparison make Heathcliff almost look respectable.
Victorian in description, dialogue, and politics--the strong female character doesn't escape punishment for her straying from the social constricts of the time...she pays for her female resourcefulness and failure to swoon, by being endowed, by the author, with masculine features, including a mustache. Today's editors would likely trim the 25 hours to 12, but in spite of the length and the diversity of plots, the story stays on track and doesn't drag; it's worth the Effort. The narration is a theatrical treat. Fear not the classic; dig in and enjoy.
Mystery reader (especially series) and Austen lover
I purchased The Mermaids Singing partially because of the reviews I read on Audible, but probably more because Val McDermid seemed to be the favorite mystery author of Mikael Blomqvist in The Millenium Trilogy (The Girl With .....). Now that I have read all of the Tony Hill/Carol Jordan books to date (a new one is due later this year), I felt it was time to write a review of the first book.
McDermid writes wonderful prose that makes her characters come alive -- all of them, not just the two major characters. I won't try to tell you about the plot, since many other reviews do that. But the development of the plot, along with the minutiae of each character's life and personality, make for excellent reading. McDermid creates a tight, incredibly tense story that keeps you reading, sometimes even when you don't want to.
If you are averse to graphic depictions of violence and perversion, you may want to skip this series. But if that's not a problem, I highly recommend these books. In Tony Hill, McDermid has created a flawed and damaged character who still manages to live in the world and work for the forces of good as a Profiler, expert at his work because of his scarred past. The relationship of Tony and Carol Jordan, police inspector, is so tentative and slow moving that you sometimes could scream, but you keep waiting for it to progress. The pair pursues serial killers in plots that will keep you on the edge of your seat with your jaw clenched.
It is important that you read the Tony Hill/Carol Jordan books in the order in which they were published, since these are not stand alone novels. The characters and their relationships and pasts are developed over the course of the series, and reading out of order makes it more difficult to follow some developments.