I'll give another vote to the narrator.
The characters are cliche and one dimensional. If Bell were a student he would be accused of plaguarising Ian Fleming's bond. The story was unbelievable and predictable and at times just made no sense. He gave entirely too much back story to the villain. As an 8 hour book it would have been simply unoriginal. The extra several hours only serves to bring it down from there.
I like books that have interesting characters and easy to follow plots. For example, Cormoran Strike, is a great character for me.
I don't know I guess I'm a little tired of super hero spies. This guy is like a new James Bond, always perfectly mannered, able to gun down 40 villains without getting more than a skin scratch and getting his man. Plus the ending was ridiculous in terms of the romantic ending. I don't want to be a spoiler so I won't reveal it but come on give me some credibility. Why can't all books be as original as "The girl with the dragon tatoo".
I also found the narrator did a good job with different voices for each character. Unfortunately, the hardest to understand and the most distracting were the British characters. The protaginist, Alex Hawke, sounds effete and sissified in the audio recording. It was distracting and made the story somewhat difficult to listen to at times.
The story hasn't kept my interest. For Alex Hawke's supposed age, he's been there and done everything. I don't find him to be believable.
Unlike other reviewers, I do not like the narrator. True, he does a lot of accents and keeps the characters separate for me. However, he has a tendency to drop his voice very low and very soft. If I turn up the volume to hear him, I get blasted by the next sentence. Consequently I miss words here and there. The narrator's ability can be the deciding factor.
The story just doesn't grab me; I haven't decided if it is the storyline or the narrator. If I continue with this author I will buy the paperbacks.
I suppose if this book were written in 1980 it would have been seen as very cutting edge. But it is so full of cliches I had to increase the listening speed to hurry through it.
You have the roguish English Lord/Super spy/international businessman, the avuncular Scotland Yard detective, the jive talking (no, really--jive) black ex-Navy SEAL, the thoroughly despicable Middle Eastern villain with his sadistic ebony African number two, etc.
The plot is no better. Actually, there are 2 completely unrelated plots which was very frustrating when the one just fizzled out and ended.
Even the climax is a let down after all the build up.
There's nothing offensive or terrible about it, it simply isn't very interesting or engaging.
The narration is actually quite good. I found the accents "quite distracting, old boy" but that is how the characters are written.
The spy thriller genre is so well populated you should put this book far down on your reading list.
A retired couple built their dream house in my neighborhood. They found an architect to combine all the architectural features they had seen and admired over a lifetime. To include everything the house is at least five times bigger than a single couple can comfortably occupy. The combined effect of a merger of many, many ideas that come from several radically different styles evokes criticism from people who have never before paid attention to building design.
Ted Bell has studied the genre with care. He has assembled a sizable collection of "thriller tropes," and has crammed them all into this single novel said to the first of a series.
Thanks to the excellent narration by John Shea the result is much, much better than my neighbors' house.
The characters, settings and plot devices are familiar. The way they are combined is, well, brave. I couldn't resist listing the first thirty that came to mine when I finished listening to the novel. What follows may warrant a Spoiler Alert. Or, it might enhance the pleasure of listening to the book by creating an anticipation of these features that appear in an unpredictable order.
(1) London hotels: The Connaught (grill/bar), Claridges, The Dorchester, #10 Downing
(2) Arab sheik in mountaintop castle/fort (3) Sumo wrestler as guard (3) Gibbets with human remains (4) NFL football player >> Navy Seal >> NYPD detective (5) Garden of poison plants and trees (6) Flying and landing gliders into mountains (7) Venice - Harry's , Danelieli Hotel (8) Harem of female assassins - hashish (9) Man eating komodo dragon (10) Cigarette boats, 200' yacht (with fireplace) & various high speed boats (11) Cuban special forces operatives (10) Bride shot by sniper as she leaves church (11) Elevator rigged to allow sniper to shoot from 60' up tree (12) Butler and every other manner of servant (13) Scotland Yard inspector who spouts Sherlock Holmes (14) Kidnapping by syringe disguised as ring and helicopter (15) Chinese operatives (16) Atomic weapon design by Indian grad of Cal Tech (17) Jihadist disguised as Greek-American cop (18) Boston whaler navigation off Maine coast in thick fog (19) Exclusion of rich wannabe from private London club/restaurant (20) Atomic bomb - "linear implosion" and Harvard prof to explain it to good guys (20) Hail Mary with football shaped-bomb (21) Transcendental numbers (22) The UK PM and the US Secy of State and the US President (23) A scissors assassin (24) The 100 missing Weapons of Mass Destruction (25) Miami's Little Havana (26) Vietnam War (27) Bone fishing (28) An Arab bodyguard called TippuTip (after the Zanizabari slave trader circa 1900) (29) "Stiltsville" off Miami coast - staple in Miami action stories and the Doc Ford series (30) Mutated smallpox virus.
This reader whose different voices were just amazing. I have listened to hundreds of books over the years and this fellow is absolutely the best.
Very different but listening to Le Career reading his own work was a great highlight in audio books
This book is a good story but a bit to fanciful for my taste but I will surely listen to his next. It tends to wander all over the place.
No just amazement at the versatility of the reader.
If for no other reason this is worth the read because of the great entertainment of the reader.