So hooked by audio that I have to read books aloud. *If my reviews help, please let me know.
"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.]
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.
*This is a very tight story; I caution you to be selective with the reviews you read--it would be so easy to inadvertently let a spoiler slip.
GONE is a great, demented, jigsaw puzzle--each little piece an important detail in an intricately shaped plot. You think you can see what the picture will be...but, each newly placed piece changes everything in this sharp psychological/suspense/thriller (emphasis on the psycho). You think you are starting to put it all together...
You....know....nothing. You are on a turbulent twisting ride, observing a fractured poisonous marriage that makes War of the Roses look like a day with June and Ward Cleaver.
Amy and Nick's marriage seemed perfect; the gorgeous hunky golden boy meets the stunningly beautiful and wealthy "cool girl" (i.e. a size 2, loves beer and football, dirty jokes, burping, three-ways, believes in letting her man stay out all night with the boys--yeah sure, and there is a Big Foot). But once the money is...Gone, the powerful NY writers jobs are...Gone, the important social connections...Gone, the dream home...Gone, their facades start to...Go; you see that "just as paranoids sometimes have real enemies, each of them had, in each other, found a mate who fulfilled his or her darkest expectations about the possibilities of love."
The first portion of this book is first person narratives, journal entries, by both Nick and Amy, who reveal little by little who they really are, both by what they say, and by what's between the lines--then all hell breaks loose. Some reviewers have mentioned they thought the second portion wasn't as enjoyable. But that's where all the fun begins--where the elaborate series of malicious and important little clues start to unravel who these two really are, and their possible personality disorders. So hone up your detective skills, review the MMPI and DSM IV, and dig in. I can say no more, lest I spoil it for you!
Gillian Flynn is known for her ability to craft wonderfully contaminated and unlikeable characters, dark--very dark smart plots, and combine them with enough familiarity that the reader becomes totally engaged, and almost feels compelled to turn the page. Her previous novels were almost too dark for me, especially Dark Places, but her writing is so distinctive and witty, and her insight so dead-on, that after a breather and a dose of anything light and fun, I'd go back for more. That's what a good writer does for me. This book contains lots of hard language and sexual situations, enough to be a deal-breaker for some readers.The ending seems to be another issue for reviewers, but see how you feel about it...regardless, the journey is top notch, probably Flynn's best work to date.