I have listened to all of Nelson DeMille's books that audible has and I've read others in print. I have to say, this book had real potential and then went absolutely nowhere. This is the first book I've actually fast forwarded through. Also, I used to love listening to Scott Brick but he's really wearing on me. Far too dramatic. There were times where he may have been reading a non-dramatic sentence but read it with such thrust and drama that I was becoming annoyed.
This book could have been cut in half and it might have been better. The xenophobia was over the top in this one. Bad, bad Russia -- enough already! We get it! Overall, I was very disappointed.
The story is excellent. The performance, however, is of a low standard. The reader mispronounces even common Russian names, such as Gogol. Most disconcerting is that everyone in the story, even Russians, have some kind of New York/New Jersey intonation, where the last part of the sentence rises in pitch. This is distracting, to the point where this listener had to laugh out loud at times.
I love Nelson DeMille, but I'd have probably never read him again if I'd picked this book up in the late 80s, when it was written. The writing, as always, is good, and the basic plotting and layout of the story is solid. But the premise is an odd mixture of banal and unbelievable, the characters are two dimensional at their best, and the whole thing is so one-sided it could have been written by the Reagan State Department.
The book is set in Soviet Russia, and starts out well, recreating the constant tensions of a police state masterfully. The plotting and scene development is good. But the book gets mushy as it goes along. Relationships seem inexplicable and out-of-character, actions make no real sense, and the constant repetition of the "evil Soviet/perfect America" motif would have even Reagan shaking his head and muttering "come on!" Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending the Soviet Union, but the book never meets an idealist Communist, never meets a non-virtuous peasant, or a smart peasant, etc. They are all simplistic caricatures, and that weakens the story.
The hero murders people, then never sees an irony as he condemns the Soviet bad guys for killing people with pretty much the same justification. The heroine continually touts her own superior morality, but justifies anything she wants to, nonetheless. She has a deep religious belief that comes and goes as the story requires. The inconsistency, not the belief, is distracting.
Even so, DeMille's storytelling works well enough to overcome these flaws through the first half of the book. At some point, though, it just starts losing believability, devolving into the cliche of politicians working against soldiers and spies, and the story gets mechanical. Great ethical questions are asked, then forgotten. It just fatally loses focus, despite the promise at the beginning.
I liked it at the beginning, but by the end I wished I had skipped it. It was unfulfilling by DeMille standards.
I liked this book. Went into it unsure but found myself not wanting to get out of the car. Will look for another Nelson DeMille book now.
The title is misleading, but when reading the story you will know why it is named as such. I liked the book! The author took me to Russia with his words. I liked the descriptions and details. I could visualize each character and the story pulls you in as the plot thickens. I enjoyed the interaction of the characters in the book. A good guy versus bad guy story. Nelson DeMille is a very talented writer and Scott Brick is a very talented narrator (as always)!
My title says it all. His books start fast and stay fast. This one will keep you on the edge of your seat for sure. What amazes me is that all his books are different, not just similar plots warmed over.
This book was scary and very conceivable
This is Scott Brick at his best
Yes - when they thought that they were to leave the country by plane.
It was a bit dated, but so what? It took place during a time in history like any other. I really and truely thought that the depth of this story was amazing. I had read some of Mr. DeMille's newer work and that lead me to his older books. I went from this right to Up Country and was amazed yet again. I'm amazed at what an insight he has into the human element, how he understands people, predjudices, and desires. I've come to realize that Mr. DeMille is truely a Great American, as well as a great Author. This Country could use more, many more, men(and women) like him. This book is long, quite indepth and couldn't be any other way. 5 Stars.
A rich American who isn't too bright (drives an expensive American car into Soviet Russia) kicks off the plot. Information he provides to the CIA kicks off a search for "The Charm School" where it is believed many Americans are being held. A solid listen if you are interested in Cold War era Russia and the mystery/thriller genre.
I really enjoyed the Charm School. I downloaded this book a month or so back and had forgotten what it was about. I then listened to it cold without any idea of the gist of the story. I found the characters to be very believable and was sympathetic to their situations. the story was well thought out, and flowed well, with much believability to it. The narration was also done very well.