Be forewarned: This is not written with the same continuity or sensibilities of any recent Superman movie or comic. The team of Tom De Haven and Scott Brick have made the Superman story new again with a creditable feel for the time and culture of America in the mid-1930's. Sometimes naive, sometimes rather violent (this is not for younger listeners), the story is told with style, sympathy and grace. De Haven writes this book in third person-present tense which places the listener in an unusual relationship to the story. Scott Brick handles regional accents and makes distinctions between male and female characters effortlessly. His phrasing as the omniscient narrator smacks of newsreel and radio announcers. This book is different and all the more interesting and enjoyable for it.
Maybe it's just part of the genre: yet another quirky, somewhat dysfunctional detective with problems. As long as it's well done, I suppose, and this compares favorably with the best of similar characters by other authors.
While Jo Nesbo is a good writer, the voice of Robin Sachs is what drives this book. He infuses a sense of Harry Hole's character into the entire book, not just Harry's spoken lines. I do wish Sachs would have pronounced the name Hole with two syllables, though. Ho - lay or perhaps ho - la instead of the English word "hole." In other names and places Sachs appears to strive to reproduce Norwegian pronunciations without overdoing it. Why not here? There are too many unwanted associations with the English word "hole." Nesbo doesn't mind the English pronunciation, I've read elsewhere, but perhaps he's being too kind.
Stories, such as this one, that connect characters back to WWII activities must be near end. There are fewer and fewer WWII survivors, so we can relax, breath a sigh of relief and be done with ex-Nazis for the most part, so be patient with this one book.
The first part of the story slips in and out of WWII and the present (a present without cell phones--the invention of which significantly changes the world of detective fiction). A certain amount of patience is required with the interludes from the past. Eventually all points from the past connect with the present. These trips to the past are somewhat dry in spite of Sachs's skilled reading.
This is a good listen. You won't be wasting your credits with the download.
I never read The Stand when it was initially published. I'd heard many people rave about it, but for whatever reason I never picked it up. I just finished listening to 11/22/63 (which I really REALLY enjoyed--perhaps the best book I've ever listened to) and expected a similar experience with The Stand. I was disappointed.
The characters in 11/22/63 are people you deeply care about, suffer with. I mean I had tears in my eyes as I listened parts of it. By comparison the characters in The Stand are shallow, made of cardboard. I understand that when you're juggling as many characters as appear in this story you have to distinguish them in some way. King chooses to do this by using regional stereotypes (New England, Texas--easy to tell apart, right?) who all speak in exaggerated folksy cliches. Dialog introducing a change in scene often sounds like it was cribbed from Hee-Haw. Characters are one-dimensional (with a few exceptions). The New England professor (Glen) was particularly annoying. His role was like that of the scientist in a white lab coat in bad science fiction movies who "explains" everything.
The length of the book didn't bother me, but In large sections of the story nothing much happens. Too many talking heads.
(As an aside, I wonder if Stephen lived in Seattle, say, would he have divided America into Eastern US (good), Western US (evil)? The potential rock star in LA has to come back east to be saved. The seat of evil is Las Vegas. Even Oregon shelters evil-doers. Not to mention the nuclear flourish at the end of the story.)
There are short moments of brilliance here, I won't deny, hints at good writing to come. I'm not recommending to not read The Stand, but do so realizing that this is an immature work by a writer who has better books in him.
As far as performance goes Grover Gardner is not my favorite reader. I'm not sure what it is everyone finds so appealing about his voice. Craig Wasson (the reader of 11/22/63) makes you feel like he's telling you his story, where as Gardner sounds like he's reading to you in his professional voice-over voice, if you get what I mean.
I can't say that I've heard a reader bring a book to life so well as Mr. Suchet. There are times when it's difficult to believe it's only one man reading all the parts. The story is a classic and the reading so masterful that I will listen to it repeatedly. This is probably the all round best audible book I've listened to and while I have other readers who I enjoy Suchet takes the art to a higher level.
Both the author and the narrator combine talents in equal portion to create a classic tale of horror that pre-dates the sensibilities of Stephen King. This is clearly in the tradition of M.R. James and a direct literary descendant of Henry James's "Turn of the Screw."
I enjoyed the listen immensely and timed my listening to the week before Halloween. Perfect. I will look for more novels of this kind. It's been decades since I last read "Turn of the Screw." I may have to go back and give it another read.
I highly recommend "The Woman in Black." It's a book that demonstrates that violence and graphic gore does not have to be present to give the reader a fright.
Connie Willis writes books that really get to me. Others have complained about "Black Out" and "All Clear" for being so long and for being repetitive. While there may be something to this, I just can't shake the feel and emotional context of the story. "Passage" was the same way--as was "Doomsday Book." Most books you listen to (or read) put them away and forget about them. Connie Willis's novels haunt you long after you reshelved them.
This is the first Daniel Wallace book I've read, but I saw and enjoyed the movie "Big Fish." Daniel Wallace likes stories--and stories woven within stories. For him the story (even mistold) tells a greater truth than a simple list of events. That's not to say that there isn't a single truth to this story. Each of the narrators may not know what happened, but the reader listening to each story can easily piece together the truth. I enjoyed the author and the various readers a great deal.
Highly recommended. This isn't a genre murder mystery, but something written with thought and talent.
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