I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery. The plot, with its miriad twists and turns, kept my attention. However, beyond having an excellent plot, this book also provided an excellent depiction of Southern living and mores. Indeed, the entire experience was reminiscent of Greg Iles, who is one of my favorite authors.
Badly written, replete with phrases that a schoolboy would be ashamed of, cliches galore, no noun goes without 1 or 2 adjectives. It goes nowhere and ever so slowly; I heard it in 35 minute spells (my journey to work) and it was insufferable - Elmore Leonard would have covered the same territory in 3 minutes. It was unbearable waiting for it to get moving. I can't believe this won an Edgar award for best first novel, it's terrible and needs a team of editors to reduce it to about 3 hours, not 12. Over-written, insubstantial, dull, the hero is not a hero, he's a whiner. Booklist said "Hart is a fine stylist, turning phrases with a panache that recalls Raymond Chandler." Rubbish, Chandler would have had Philip Marlowe kill the hero and the writer for murdering the English language!
This is my second John Hart. I read "Down River", got all excited, and rushed to download this work. It's good, but pretty far short of the other. Since this was Hart's first book I suppose it stands to reason that he would have improved, started hitting his stride in "Down River".
The premise of the mystery is pretty clever, and Hart gives us a couple of likely suspects to focus on throughout the story. The action marches right along, not many digressions from the unraveling of the mystery. It seemed to me that the book was written as a series of scenes, like in a play. When one encounter of the characters gave up all the information they had, curtain down, curtain up, new scene, more information.
Some of the dialog is a bit dramatic sounding, not like people talk at all. As if it were typed in Aerial Font, for soaring rhetoric. From time-to-time I pictured some old Shakespearean actors called out of retirement to act out these scenes, with flourishes and grand sounding words.
Most of the characters were believable and well painted. I was a little curious as to the function of the old Viet Nam vet who'd suffered five years in a POW cage. He was far more interesting than his minor role in this book would indicate. He offers a little advice, then turns out to have witnessed something important, but he doesn't offer anything that a stock bartender character from central casting couldn't have.
I was sort of disappointed in the choice of narrator. David Chandler has absolutely no southern accent, in fact, not much of any accent at all. This is supposed to be North Carolina, after all. Even the Publisher's Summary mentions something about a southern drawl. But, as a lot of the action takes place in courtrooms and lawyers' offices, there's nothing about the book that requires it do be identified with North Carolina, aside from references to Charlotte. Nothing down on the farm or out on the plantation, not much small-town stuff. So maybe Scott Sower would have been an overkill.
Anyway, it's a pretty solid mystery, just not Hart's best.
Slow start, almost gave up because of too much not needed details. But...I did get into the personality of the characters and was looking forward to how it would end. A 5 star rating for me, means I was sad to see the book end & listened to it not only in the car, but at work and at home.
For those who loved "Prince of Tides," this is the book for you. Those (like me), who found POT overwritten and melodramatic, King of Lies will be just about unlistenable. Another disappointment is the reader. He is good but lacks the southern accent necessary to make the locale (and story) believable. I gave up on this book about two-thirds of the way through.
For an entertaining escape this listen is a good one. Engaging with good characters. My only detraction is a few times they are bit thin or not developed enough. I listened to this for the same reason I would listen/read a Grisham or Michael Connelly. On that basis it was not disappointing.
I think John Hart has a lot of talent ... but ever see a writer try too hard? Ever do it yourself? Usually, it spells disaster. John Hart overkills on the adjectives, enough that I wanted to scream at times. Will I read another of his books? Absolutely! Like I said, I think he has great talent ... but this book's verbose narrative made me feel like fingernails scraping the chalkboard. Enough said.
The narrator was articulate and with great intonation. The story was easy to follow, the characters entertaining and the book well written! Good twists and turns!
Let me explain... The story line is good and so is the writing. I like the narrator BUT the editing is bad. You can occasionally hear the narrator taking a drink, taking a breath etc. Hope that other books are edited better.