I've listened to three of Will Patton's readings of James Lee Burke's books and have marveled at Mr. Patton's characterizations and Louisiana accents. By comparison, Mark Hammer sounds as if all his characters are from east Tennessee, have some nasel passage infection and are virtually indistinguishable. I especially missed Mr. Patton's voice for Clete Purcel in this reading of Black Cherry Blues. I wish Will Patton would read all of Burke's books in the unabridged form.
I started with the Neon Rain, which is excellent, and now Black Cherry Blues. I cannot tell you if the Cherry story is good since the narrator is so pitiful and totally distracts the listener.
Warning, Amazon is illustrating author composite ratings for individual books unlike what Audible used to do.
Attorney and author of legal thrillers.
I am a huge fan of James Lee Burke and have read a number of his books. However, I had missed Black Cherry Blues. I listened to it on a long road trip and realized again that Burke is unparalleled in his ability to paint a scene and draw a reader into the story.
Burke's stories always keep me wondering. I know each character will play a part in the overall sense of the book, but I never know for sure how it will play out until the very end. In this book, I wondered most about Dixie Lee Pugh, a marvelous character on many levels.
Hammer captured the essence of Dave Robicheaux for me. Understated, yet thoughtful and plagued by the demons of his past.
Yes. Although the length of it made it better listened to a few segments at a time. I actually read the last chapter or two on my Kindle, but later went back and listened to them to get the full effect of the narration.
But I loved the author’s phrases and the art of his writing.
Plot: the main guy Dave is framed for a crime. He does not do strong or smart things to save himself. I was worried and feeling down during most of the book. If the hero is going to be framed, then I want a hero I can root for, feel hope for, and enjoy watching him give it to the bad guys. But this was not. However, I know many readers like this type of fiction. For me at least the ending was happy, and I really enjoyed the unique phrases and rich descriptions.
Dave is a flawed hero. He is smart, but he does reckless and careless things which get him into trouble. He also did a stupid thing which almost got him killed. And he admitted to himself how stupid it was. He wasn’t thinking. I have moments like that. Dave is a former cop, a former alcoholic going to AA meetings. He grieves for his wife who was murdered a year ago. Dave has several sensitive and loving conversations with his dead wife. These are dreams, daydreams, or his imagination. They add a nice touch, seeing his relationship with his wife’s ghost.
The group of characters are intriguing, interesting, and wonderfully developed - bad guys and good guys. Most of the good guys are flawed. I liked that.
I loved the little girl’s dialogue and her questions. I loved Dave’s relationship with her.
The author used many phrases, metaphors, and similes. Many I had not heard before. Some I just liked the way he used them. They surprised and delighted me. Some examples.
Cars cross the bridge and “thump onto the road”
About a rhythm and blues singer, someone must have “rubbed a lot of pain into him” when he was young
“When the mosquitos started to boil out of the shadows.”
“Those who began each day with a nervous breakdown, people who held onto the sides of the planet with suction cups”
Girl with a swimsuit “that was tight as tin on her body”
(What does that mean? I don’t know but I liked it.)
This book won the EDGAR AWARD for best novel in 1990.
THE AUTHOR LIVES IN THE PLACES HE WRITES ABOUT.
The two main locations in this story are Louisiana and Montana. The author has homes in both of those places. I’m sure that helps his descriptions be so rich and lush. I wonder about authors who write about places they’ve never visited but instead rely on online research.
NARRATOR & SOUND EQUIPMENT PROBLEM:
Mark Hammer was excellent with his timing and interpretations. His southern accent was comfortable to listen to. I loved the way he spoke for the little girl. He gave her an attitude that touched my heart. I loved the way she said the word Dave - in such a gentle and caring way.
I think there was a problem with the sound equipment. It picked up the narrator’s breathing making it sound as if he had trouble breathing. His breaths were noisy and distracting.
Genre: mystery suspense
I have a spotted history with James Lee Burke. I started listening to this series purely because Will Patton read them. I ended up all over the place in Dave Robicheaux's life. I loved each of those books, really enjoyed them. I chose this book because I thought it would be fun to start from the beginning. Now I don't know if I'll go on to book two. It was a real struggle to get through this book, it felt like a chore instead of a joy. The most awful part of the book was whenever the narrator was speaking for a Cajun person or Dave's foster daughter. When Dave drove to Montana I was grateful that at least his Cajun staff wouldn't have speaking parts any longer.
I'll probably try book two when it's been long enough that I forget how much I struggled through this one. Hopefully Burke's writing and Hammer's narration improve quickly.
What a great writer and fantastic narrator! Listening, I am pulled in as if it is occurring around me. The subject matter can be depressing, but there is something redeeming in these stories. I am now listening in order and I am just blown away at how great they are!
Plot was complex and engaging. The character's voices were hard to distinguish at times. At one point the Louisiana- speaking child and the Montana teacher sound so close a rewind is necessary to tell who is who when Robicheaux is also in the conversation. This flaw only appears here and there and doesn't detract too much from enjoying the whole thing, which I did
After an unfortunate disability, I now spend my time with my beautiful wife, great kids, 1 grandson, dogs, and books
When I listened to Burke's first book in the Dave Robicheaux series, "The Neon Rain", I instantly fell in love with his writing. He is the most descriptive author I have ever read. Plus, being from the Texas/Louisiana border area, I know most of the places he writes about and the people. Will Patton, who narrated that book was EXCELLENT. Not only was his speaking the Cajun accent flawless, you got the impression he knew the areas, foods, items and everything else the way it was supposed to be pronounced. Mark Hammer gets none of these right. From his mispronounciation of the Sabine River, (Sa-bean, not Say-Bine like twine), or pirogue (which is pee-ro, like throw, not pirouge like a rouge) and many others too numerous to note. Plus Dave Robicheaux is a Cajun, he has a Cajun accent, Alifair also has a Cajun accent. He makes Alifair sound like she is stupid, not Cajun. Unfortunately, the only books of Burke that Will Patton narrates are the first one and the last few books he has put out leaving a large gap in between,unless you want the severely shortened "Abridged versions". The stories are still very descriptive and well written, but Mark Hammer is terrible for James Lee Burke. I will not listen to any more of them narrated by Mark Hammer.
After Neon Rain I thought I would not try Burke again but decided to try one more. Oh WHAT A MISTAKE! Should have listened to my gut.
Poor story even worse narration
He did an a East Texas accent for a Cajun. Not even close!! His narration really ruined a already poor story. Very very annoying