I read a hundred books a year, most of them thrillers, and I'm a very picky reader. I abandon half the books I start because they just don't hold my attention. Bearing all this in mind, COMPANY MAN just claimed a firm place on the list of the top ten thrillers I've read. Ever. It's a pressure cooker of tension from the beginning and it never lets up. Finder has become one of those few authors whose next book I anxiously await.
I'm a HUGE fan of Finder, a fan who always eagerly awaits his next, but this one is weak. The mother and son are so whiny and bratty and obnoxious that they're unsympathetic. The protag also has major flaws; a prime example is when he visits his father in prison. He desperately needs info from his father, but engages in childish sarcasm and obfuscation for far too long.
Then there's the narrator. OH. MY. GOSH. I wish I had read this one with my eyes instead of ears because this guy is one of the most annoying narrators I've ever heard. The whiny, nasally, trembling voices grate on my spine like fingernails on a chalkboard. How does a major release like this get to market without SOMEONE saying, "Whoa, we have a problem?"
Audible seriously needs to bust up the review process into separate components for content and narration.
I'm a major Margolin fan, but this was far from his best work. In fact, I think it may be his weakest. I had the ending figured out less than halfway through. Characters not as developed as in his other books.
The worst thing: the narrator. Bad voices. Inconsistent voices. What really grated on my nerves, however, was his tendency to enunciate the words "a" and "the." So unnatural.
The idea of a lost Theory of Everything is a nice premise. The writing is
more than adequate from a style perspective. He also did an admirable job of
working in twists that are so important to a story like this. The pacing was
good, and the science was nicely handled. Then there are the problems...
A character engages the safety on their revolver. (Revolvers don't have
safeties.) A character "smashes" a computer on the floor and, voila, we have
parts everywhere. Among these parts, he is able to spot the hard drive
because it looks like "a turntable with glass platters." He proceeds to
smash the platters into tiny shards. Good grief. Every time an author does
something like this, it yanks you out of the story and it takes time to
reestablish the immersion. I find this way too often with authors who
obviously have zero understanding of things of the real world, whether the
topic is cars, guns, computers, etc.
The more troubling issue with the book is the ultra-poor character
development, both on the micro and macro levels. On the micro level, there's
just little there to make one bond with the individual characters. They're
stereotypical and wooden. On the macro level, the evil government is after
the poor innocent little people while an evil Master Killer stalks them, as
Finally, although it contributed absolutely nothing to the story, the author
had to take time to inject his liberal politics. The evil vice-president
with a crooked smile has to run the country for the "boob" from Texas.
Again, yawn. Maybe the author found this cathartic, but it's an incredibly
stupid thing to do in a book that has nothing to do with politics. By
including elements like this, he added nothing to the story, but did manage
to insult any conservative who happened to have bought and read his book.
Not smart to alienate half your market for no reason other than your own
need to "vent."
For years I have been one of Preston's most avid fans, affording him status as one of my rare "Automatic Authors," writers whose books I automatically buy without even reading the description, so I take no pleasure in writing this review.
First, the narrator is terrible at everything except the narrative. Character voices sound like something out of a low budget teen movie.
As for content, the overall story is the only reason the book gets even two stars. It's an interesting overall premise with abysmal execution. The characters are hackneyed caricatures.
Most disturbing is the seething hatred of Christianity that boils just below the surface throughout the book. Atheistic fervor = good. Navajo mysticism = good. Politicians = good. Then there are those dang old evil Christians. Aside from a casual Catholic who in the end doesn't have conviction enough to challenge an all-out attack on the core of Christianity, every single Christian is depicted as either a fraud, a whack-job, a murderer, or a terrorist. No matter what you think of Christianity, for Preston to portray such a massive group of his fellow citizens in this way is absurd and totally lacking in believability. It's so over the top as to make obvious the fact that he did zero research aimed at creating believable Christian characters.
As a Christian myself, I found Blasphemy to be utterly offensive, but I also am extremely dismayed to see such poor craft of writing from one of my favorite writers. I read many many novels that have characters and story elements I may disagree with, yet I can still appreciate the quality of craft. This one is a sad failure on virtually every front.
When I saw a number of comparisons to The DaVinci Code, I (as a Christian) almost steered clear of this one. Man, I'm glad I didn't. This book is EXTREMELY well written. Characters are deeply drawn, layered, complex. Plot is smoothly executed. At 20+ hours, it obviously contains a lot of detail, but the detail adds much to the story instead of dragging it down. I'll keep an eye out for more books from this author for sure.
First, this is an excellent thriller overall. Gripping, well paced, solid character development, and more accurate in the factual elements than many. It's definitely worth the listen.
Minor glitches: Flynn seems to forget having covered things, and occasionally repeats himself. Like virtually every writer on the planet, he describes the smell of Cordite in the air following gunfire, while Cordite hasn't been used in modern ammunition for MANY years. There are a couple other issues, but they're minor and certainly not enough to spoil a great read.
This book has an excellent premise and the story is executed with intrigue and suspense. Unfortunately, it also has a couple of problems: First, the protagonist has a stupid streak that makes him hard to root for. He does idiotic things and then repeats them. This being a first novel, I'm hopeful that the author will improve his character development going forward.
The second problem is huge: The descriptions. Oh my, let me see if I can find the words to accurately describe this problem. This author describes EVERYTHING worn by EVERY character in EVERY situation, and he does it EVERY time they appear. By page 100, I was ready to scream, and this problem is pronounced enough that I won't make it through his future books if they're the same way. I have no idea what he was thinking, and it's unfathomable that the publisher didn't insist on paring this practice back during the editing process.
NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING, is left to the reader's imagination. Each time a character appears, he describes every stitch of clothing, from the shape of boot heels to the style of earrings to the color of hair ribbon, the hairstyle, the pants, the shirts, the blouse, the scarf. Matters not if they're walking down the street or staring into the muzzle of a gun, he's gonna tell us EXACTLY what they're wearing. If there are a group of people present, he ticks through each one like this. It's not limited to characters, of course. We get the same level of minutiae for every building, every room we enter, and basically every piece of furniture in every room. It's utterly maddening, and it's made worse in the audiobook format since you can't skim through this nonsense.
I want to like this author because of the good story and interesting premise. I can only hope that someone somewhere helps him understand the seriousness of this problem. Reading is about visualizing, about imagination. It's not television and it's not necessary to try to turn it into that kind of experience.
There's plenty to like about FLASH POINT, especially for fans of authentic military fiction. Huston has the jargon down pat, and it's obvious he either spent a lot of time on an aircraft carrier, or knows someone who did. It's a good storyline, populated with well-developed, realistic characters. Unfortunately, it's not without problems.
First, a specific audiobook issue: The narrator. In addition to the "aristocratic" tone of voice that's totally out of place in a novel like this, he has a tendency to speak very slowly at times, and he often makes the problem worse by leaving long gaps between sentences. On the flip side, he'll often leave no extra space at all between scenes. The end result is one sentence takes place on an aircraft carrier and the next may take place halfway around the world, with zero transition for the listener. These spacing issues may be the fault of the audio editor, but it's supremely irritating.
Another problem is the fact that it was obviously written before 9/11. Events are described as fantastic, and they may well have been considered so before 9/11, that are now mild by comparison to what we've actually experienced. This isn't the author's fault, of course, but it still affects the reader/listener experience.
The worst problem, however, must fall squarely to the author. He has a habit of of getting on some issue and just refusing to let go. He goes over it and over it and over it and over it and over it, as if the reader is just too dumb to understand it the first time through. Or the second. Or the third. Characters will get into a discussion/debate on something, and they just say the same things many, many, many times. To an avid, intelligent reader (the very type of reader who buys and reads long books like this), this is beyond irritating. It's downright offensive. Mr. Huston is truly a good writer and I very much want to remain a fan; I hope he addresses this problem in the next book.
This really isn't my favored genre, not even close--I like thrillers, and I have a real penchant for techy thrillers--which makes my five-star rating all the more remarkable. I don't care what kind of book you normally read, take a chance on this one and you won't be disappointed.
I'm also a writer myself, and as my own craft has evolved over the years, I've become more and more critical, harder and harder to please. I only finish around 40% of the books I start these days. Add all this up, and you have a real winner. I just couldn't find anything wrong with it. TMOR drew me in fairly early and by around chapter five I was totally hooked.
McClarty has built splendid characters and crafted them into an unusual tale that really really really speaks to the human soul.
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