"The Poet" is a very good police procedural, but not exceptional. A reporter tracks a serial killer through some unpredictable plot twists.
But, for me, the narrator raised this into 5-star territory. Even the most minor walk-on parts have their own distinct voices, and have more individuality than Connelly gave them. I was very impressed.
A few must reads: Mr. Mercedes, Narrows Gate, Cop Town, Bomb Proof, Wayfaring Stranger, The Son (Nesbo), Dept Q series...
This story revolves around reporter Jack McEvoy and FBI agent Rachel Walling. While I read all of Connelly in order years ago, I actually listened to the sequel of The Poet, the Harry Bosch novel The Narrows, first. Even though I knew who the villain was this was a riveting story.
You don't have to listen to many of Connelly's novel in order, but it's essential to read the Poet first if you want maximum shock value.
A great audio experience...
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
Connelly yes, Schirner no. Whatever problems I have with The Poet are specific to this book -- overall, I liked Connelly's writing well enough to give him another chance, especially with a more recent title, since this one is highly dated. Schirner's growling recitation and deep voice starts out sounding appropriate for a police story, but it's grating after a while.
What attracted me to the story was the serial killer's references to Edgar Allan Poe's works. As a fan of the TV show The Following, which uses the same device, I was interested in seeing a similar treatment. That part of the story works well, as does the main character's motivation in pursuing the killer after his twin brother's murder.
The main problem arises in the plotting. You always look for misdirection, for red herrings, in this type of story. You can't make them too opaque, to the point where the reader has no chance of figuring things out for his own. But this one is too transparent. First of all, with the narrative shifting to the serial killer's point of view, there is no doubt that he is committing these murders. So where's the mystery there? Finding him? The truth is, for someone who has kept himself so well hidden for so long, he is found out quite easily and quite quickly during the course of this narrative.
So clearly, there is something else going on, someone else committing some of the killings (although clearly not the serial killings). And clearly, there is one candidate, identifiable early on. So once again, where's the mystery? If I was to write this story and correct these flaws, I would have tried to find a way to make the obvious serial killer a total red herring -- i.e., have him not be the killer at all, even though it might seem that he is. Perhaps have him be someone who knows what the real serial killer is doing and gets off on shadowing him and messing with him.
Honestly, I wish someone else would have read the book. His voice is just too deep and too growly for sustained listening.
To thank the lord (or Al Gore) for the internet, along with ubiquitous cell service and smart phones. The Poet was written in 1996, when the internet was in its infancy, cell service was in its adolescence, and people were still faxing things around and going to libraries. Some reviewers criticize The Poet as being dated in this respect, but if you know it in advance, you can treat it as an historical piece -- this is the way they had to investigate crimes way back in the late 20th century. But it makes me thankful that I can look things up at the drop of a hat, like lines of poetry from Edgar Allan Poe -- this book would be one third its length today if the investigators could look up Poe on the internet instantly and could access case info electronically instead of breaking into file rooms and searching for hard copies.
The best crime novels are character driven, not plot driven. As Hitchcock always said, the McGuffin must really only be interesting to the characters, it does not have to be interesting to the readers. From that respect, The Poet works -- why I gave it three stars instead of one. Jack McEvoy is a strong protagonist with strong motivation, and the characters around him, for the most part, play good supporting roles. The serial killer is also fairly good, though perhaps, given the proliferation of serial killers in fiction and on TV and movies, he is as dated now as a fax machine. But in general, whatever redeeming qualities The Poet has lies in its strong characterization.
I hate knowing I would have enjoyed this book, but for the narrator.
Or, as the narrator would say,
'Twould have been good; 'twas not I but the reader. 'Twas a good story read by a narrator with the audible emotion of a canned yam. 'Twould have been much better 'fth Mr. NarratorMan recognized the "i" nth words "if," "in" and especially "it." 'Twould have been a good one ndeed.
I don't know which actually made this such a pondering, boring book - the writing, or the reading (narration). I haven't read any Connelly books before, and I know I won't listen to any more either. I got used to the narrator fairly quickly, but he never really embodied any of the characters (sounding sometimes rather cold and mechanical) and he was best reading the exposition, not the dialogue. Still, I found the author repeated a lot of stuff that didn't really matter, but then glossed over other things as if they'd dissolve into dust if you looked to closely at this or that plot point. Not very enjoyable and I wouldn't recommend it unless you're already a big fan of Connelly.
I have enjoyed every Michael Connelly book so far. The Poet was a standout. The story line moved quickly and the characters were varied and well developed. The plot twists kept you wondering what would happen next. I hope there are more books based on these main characters.
Retired former magazine editor who is working harder than ever as Mr. Dad to his 11-year-old daughter.
This was a good book and well on its way to five stars when, for some inexplicable reason, Connelly decided to add one final twist in the last hour or so before it ended. I saw this twist coming and I kept saying aloud, "no, no." But my pleas went unanswered. Up to this point there were enough twists to hold my interest in what I thought was a very well-told story with excellent narration by Schirner (despite the British pronunciation of pEdophile which drove my to distraction). Jack McEvoy is a much more likable character than Henry Bosch, although he possesses some of the same human frailties. Most of the other major characters in this book are well conceived and are in sync with the story line. I would have ended the book differently and tied up some of the remaining loose ends. But maybe that's why Connelly is a best-selling author and I'm not (although we both graduated from the University of Florida). I'm listening to The Scarecrow right now, which is another McEvoy novel. I probably should have listened to The Narrows first, but don't ask me why until you finish The Poet. It's well worth the Audible credit.
Yes I would recommend it to any mystery fan. It is a good read, suspensful, with many plot twists.
Its pace, characters, and surprises.
The main character.
There were many
Just when I thought the mystery had been resolved, new information changed the direction. Nice twists in this story of a journalist on the trail of his twin brother's murderer.
In this case, the tale is best read from the page. The stumbling, awkward read by Mr. Schirner leaves one weighed down and worn out.
The protagonist is easy to like and an a clear favorite. He's stubborn and human and determined. The villain is hard to like, hard to support. I'm not sure if this is performance or the writing.
The performance needed a different narrator with a better feel for the pace and the suspense of the text. The individual character voices sounded contrived and forced. I suppose that he was after a halting, film noir angle, but it reminded me more of an intoxicated confession from Norm at Cheers.
Unfortunately, I am only inspired to avoid future reads by Mr. Schirner.