Most of the rest were just ok. 21 short stories with themes of revenge or vengeance. I hesitate to read short stories. More often than not something doesn’t get developed enough - characters, motivations, plot. Some of my harsh ratings below are because of this. Those same authors would probably get a higher rating from me for their full length novels. But, it can be done. Two of the short stories were excellent - by Michael Connelly and Darrell James. The stories below are in the same order as in the book.
3 stars. THE 14th JUROR by Twist Phelan.
Two police detectives talk to a judge. The ending was too abrupt. I wanted to see specifically what would happen to the recipient of the revenge.
1 star. LOST AND FOUND by Zoe Sharp.
This was a weird combination of second and third person point of views. “You” are being attacked. “He” is doing the attacking. Throughout the story the author switches back and forth between what “You” are thinking and feeling and what “He” is thinking and doing. I was frustrated and confused. This was too subtle for me. I didn’t like the ending. I wanted to know what was going to happen to “He.”
2 stars. THE MOTHER by Alafair Burke.
The main story was pretty good - 3 stars. But the ending was unfinished - 1 star. It left me hanging. A bad guy was discovered, and I have no idea what will happen with him. One storyline is who will have custody of a two-year-old girl who had been raped.
1 star. BLIND JUSTICE by Jim Fusilli.
Angie and Turnip are two guys who interact with organized crime types. Relationships could not be fully shown because there were too many characters. Motivations and actions were vague. I didn’t know who did what or why. I didn’t know what the bad guy did that caused a need for revenge. The revenge was referred to, not shown. At the end one guy asks “Dead or alive?” The other guy says “What do you think?” This ending was too vague.
3 ½ stars. THE CONSUMERS by Dennis Lehane.
A broker sells bad investments causing people to lose money. He also beats his wife. The story was good until the end. A character got revenge, but I wasn’t clear about his motives. I wanted to understand him better.
3 stars. MOONSHINER’S LAMENT by Rick McMahan.
Too much was too vague. I didn’t see motives for Goat’s actions after he left the men in the woods. Then I vaguely knew what happened to the men in the woods. I needed to know more about the bad guy’s motivations and actions.
2 stars. RIVER SECRET by Anne Swardson.
A street musician sees a little girl with her mother. Too much subtlety. Not obvious enough.
3 stars. HOT SUGAR BLUES by Steve Liskow.
A lot of time was spent with things the bad guy musician did which was depressing. His victims were wimps because they were powerless or they didn’t choose their actions well. Someone gets revenge which was ok, but the overall story was depressing.
3 ½ stars. THE FINAL BALLAD by Brendan DuBois.
Good story. It’s about what happens after Beth’s daughter was beaten by the son of a senator.
2 stars. AFRICA ALWAYS NEEDS GUNS by Michael Niemann.
So, so. I couldn’t get into the characters. An investigator needs to examine cargo. The pilot won’t let him.
2 stars. THE UNREMARKABLE HEART by Karin Slaughter.
This didn’t feel like revenge or vengeance. The main character is dying and her main crime was trusting someone she shouldn’t have and saying some mean things to others. As a story it’s ok but it’s depressing about someone dying. There is a shocking surprise at the end.
2 stars. IT AIN’T RIGHT by Michelle Gagnon.
Too subtle. Don’t know what happened. Joe and his wife may have done something bad. I didn’t see any revenge or vengeance in this story. It’s possible my mind wandered and I missed it?
3 stars. SILENT JUSTICE by C.E. Lawrence.
A killer confesses to a priest. Ok story.
4 stars. EVEN A BLIND MAN by Darrell James.
Young girl is in trouble. Her grandfather travels across the country by bus to find her and help her. He pretends to be blind, but he is not. This was very good.
2 stars. THE GENERAL by Janice Law Trecker.
Not a pleasant story. Not enjoyable. The General did evil things when he was in power which are recalled. The ending has some revenge, but it was more sad than good.
4 ½ to 5 stars. A FINE MIST OF BLOOD by Michael Connelly.
Yay! I love Harry Bosch! This is another installment in that series. It was my favorite story in this book. Detective Bosch is investigating a murder. At first I was drawn in because I thought “how in the world is he going to catch this person?” Later there was suspense, and I was worried about Bosch. Then my favorite part was the person who got revenge - that was a surprise. I didn’t expect it. And, we had a complete ending. So to Michael Connelly, thank you, you write so well!
3 stars. LEVERAGE by Mike Cooper.
The subject matter was depressing. Much of the story is about employees of a company being terminated and losing their pensions. One of the employees wants to do something about it. It was ok, but I didn’t feel much. At least the ending was complete.
3 stars. THE HOTLINE by Dreda Say Mitchell.
Ruckshana wears a Muslim head scarf when working at the bank. Her boss lies to her and is behind her firing. It’s an ok story.
3 stars. BLOOD AND SUNSHINE by Adam Meyer.
It was ok but odd. I was frustrated that the author didn’t say what happened to the baby. I’m still troubled by that. Eddie is a college student working at a day care center/camp for kids during the summer. Dillon is a five-year-old who is sneaky and evil. This is a dark story. The good guy gets revenge but did something evil to get it. It left me with an unsettled feeling.
3 stars. IN PERSONA CHRISTY by Orest Stelmach.
Maria and her son Manuel flee Mexico and live with a priest in a Connecticut parish. Her husband was killed by bad guys. Several years earlier Father Nathan lost his right arm and right leg and wears prosthetics. The ending was pretty good about someone saving the day and getting some revenge.
3 stars. THE HOLLYWOOD I REMEMBER by Lee Child.
The main character is a killer for hire. He kills prostitutes who threaten to talk/blackmail their clients. Someone wants revenge and to see him in jail. The revenge he gets is unexpected. This was ok at best.
Genre: mystery suspense.
An angry man changes his life to one with less anger. The dog has a supporting role, not the main part.
I have complaints, but it’s a thoughtful book and above average.
I’ve read a number of books in the women’s fiction genre, but almost none in men’s fiction. This is the latter. It’s about a man with anger and abandonment issues. He is extremely successful in the corporate world and then loses it all due to an angry action. He loses his job, his wife, and his money. He’s now living alone in a cheap apartment, with no job, and miserable. A judge sentenced him to twenty hours a week serving food to the homeless. By the end of the book he changes his attitude and other things. He has more forgiveness and humility in his life. And it’s a better life.
The dog is a secondary part of the story. I had just finished reading a fabulous true story about a dog before reading this. (The Dog Who Could Fly by D. Lewis) So I was a little disappointed with the dog part of this story. I wanted more man-dog relationship. The dog and man don’t meet until almost half way through the book. This story was less about the dog and more about a man with problems.
The dog is a pit bull. He was raised in a cage and trained to fight and kill other dogs. This dog had better people skills than Adam. Even though the dog was never given love or care, somehow he instinctively knew that his doggie smile and calmness would get him better treatment from strange humans.
PAIN AND THE ENDING:
Something brutal and horrible happened to the dog. That “torture” was the main idea that stayed with me after reading the book. I wish the author had not done that. It totally took away from the story. The dog survived which gave us “the official happy ending” but it was a tear jerker. Not feel good. I was sad because the dog suffered.
CLIFFHANGERS ANNOYED ME:
The author annoyed me with cliffhangers at the end of scenes or chapters. For example, there is a major problem and then all of a sudden Adam gets a phone call with the answer or resolution. Then the author switches to another scene or topic before coming back and telling us who called and what was said. I don’t like being manipulated that way. I prefer scenes be finished to normal conclusions.
You’ll need to suspend disbelief on this one. The shrewd businessman gets nothing from the portfolio and none of the three houses?
POINT OF VIEW:
The chapters alternate between Adam’s and the dog’s point of view. Adam chapters are 3rd person. Dog chapters are 1st person. I usually don’t like 1st person, but this worked because it was easy to know whose mind we were in.
The narrators were very good. But note that Audible listed them incorrectly. The narrators are Fred Berman and Rick Adamson.
Genre: men’s fiction, dog fiction.
Wow. Wonderful. Fantastic Story. True story about a dog and his loyalty and love with his owner.
I was so captivated. Could not stop reading. A pilot Robert was shot down by the Germans in 1939. There he met abandoned puppy Antis who would die if not rescued. Robert crawled for hours to safety with the puppy in his shirt. This is one of those truth is stranger than fiction stories. Amazing things happen. It’s nonfiction but embellished with assumed/fictionalized dialogue. I liked the way that was done. It made it more enjoyable.
The story is about the dog Antis from 1939 until Hitler surrendered in 1945. The epilogue states that Antis did some heroic things after the war during Robert’s travel from Communist occupied Czechoslovakia to Britain. That was one sentence. I wish the author wrote more about that.
I’ve heard and read about psychic events here and there. I want to believe those things exist. And this book reinforces my belief. In one episode Robert is on a plane. Antis is at the base. At 1 am Robert is wounded. At that exact moment Antis began howling and grieving in a way he had not done before.
Antis died after a normal life span for a dog of fourteen years. Robert lived after that without Antis. At the end of the book I had a crying session. Antis lived a full life, but I still grieved.
There are pictures in the physical book. I wish the author provided a downloadable pdf file for audiobook buyers.
Derek Perkins did an excellent job.
Genres: nonfiction, dog nonfiction.
Not the kind of story I like to read, but it was different.
It’s probably above average for readers who like hard-boiled crime fiction noir.
It’s famous so I was curious. It’s told in first person by Walter Huff. At times he talks directly to the reader using the word “you.” Walter is an insurance salesman. He sounds like a good salesman – a smart guy. But he’s a dweeb or goof or something odd when it comes to love. He talks to a woman a couple times and claims he’s in love. Something happens and he is immediately out of love. He talks to another woman a couple times and says that is true love. And when he loves someone, murder is just something to do for them. Weird. But I like weird things.
Although, his murder motive is not just for love. Huff claims the big score appeals to him. And since he’s an insurance guy he knows how to get around the problems.
The main story is about two people planning a murder. They are the bad guys. We are never in the murder victim’s head. We are in the good guys’ heads just briefly – when we listen to insurance company executives discuss the insurance claim. That part was a little boring.
I did not like the ending. It was disappointing and vague. I had to make assumptions. It was bad news for the bad guys, so I suppose that makes it a happy ending for good guys. But I wanted something more.
This was written in 1935-36. There’s something neat about the dialogue. The writer did not grow up watching TV, movies, etc. So he sounds different from contemporary writers. I liked it. There is a directness about it.
It is a third the length of a regular novel.
James Naughton was excellent.
Genre: crime fiction.
I really enjoyed book 1 (Relic) but this not so much. My mind wandered frequently.
Book 1 was a complete story about a beast who killed humans. Book 2 is about beasts who are related to the beast in book 1. Book 2 has a lot of time in underground tunnels and with the homeless. The story and characters were not as good as book 1. The people, what they did, and their motivations did not interest me.
In an interview the author Preston commented that "RELIQUARY was probably the least successful of the "Agent Pendergast" books.”
The audiobook narrator Dick Hill was very good.
Genre: science fiction suspense thriller.
There were a few stupidity parts (below). But I was willing to accept them because overall it was a good read.
1. The good guys know the beast has an acute sense of hearing. They are hiding behind a door which has an opening covered in cardboard. The beast is on the other side of the door. Why are they whispering? The beast can hear them.
2. There have been murders. All museum employees are told never go anywhere alone and leave the building at 5 pm. So why does one female go somewhere alone after 5 which puts her next to the beast?
3. A security guard calls on the radio asking for backup because he heard a noise. The dispatcher laughs at him and makes fun of him saying are you scared? Of course the guard gets killed.
AUDIOBOOK NARRATOR - David Colacci was good.
Genre: science fiction suspense thriller.
This is book #1 in the Pendergast series. So far there are 14 books in the series.
Good process peeling the mystery. I didn’t want to stop reading.
Boy, is he a good writer. I like the way clues are discovered throughout the book instead of a tell-all at the end. I like neat things Nick does to get information. Several of the author’s books are two years apart. I like that. He’s not churning them out in a rush.
I have three complaints. 1. The subject matter was tough to take. A girl is kidnapped and placed in a coffin underground while waiting for ransom. Water, food, and air were supplied. There are several scenes with her crying and begging in panic and horror. I did not like reading those parts. They still haunt me. Being bound and placed in a room would be easier for me to take. 2. Unanswered questions about Taylor. Why did she do what she did at the beginning? What was happening with her at the end? I wanted to hear conversations with her and her reactions at the end. Why did her father do what he did at the end? 3. I was annoyed with several cliffhanger hooks at the end of chapters. I don’t like being manipulated that way.
Some reviewers complained about technical errors with GPS, infrared, and gun types. I don’t know if things were technically accurate, but I don’t care. This is entertainment - not educational. It’s ok to make things up. It’s fun, creative, and imaginative. It’s called ARTISTIC LICENSE. I disagree with readers who want every detail fit for an encyclopedia. But I understand, authors would like to make all of us happy.
I “require” happy endings. And the ending was good for me.
AUDIOBOOK NARRATOR (Holter Graham).
He needs to stop doing weird character voices. He did an awful voice for teenage Gabe in the first two Heller books. At least Gabe only had a small part in this book. Graham also used a weird high pitched voice for police officer Kent. He was weird doing Alexa in the coffin. Sure she was terrified, but Graham added weirdness. I liked his female voice for Francine Heller. I suggest he use that voice for most females, just change the emotions. Graham adds weirdness by holding his breath - or something. But for general narration and emotional interpretation Graham is good.
Genre: mystery suspense thriller.
This is book 2 in the Nick Heller series. They do not need to be read in order, but I’d recommend it. Book 1 is “Vanished.”
I was engaged all the way. But the audiobook narrator was annoying.
I loved the way Nick and the reader learn things and clues along the way. No tell-all at the end. There were many interesting things, like the way Nick repeatedly set off window alarms to get in a building. I liked what he did with a FedEx envelope. I liked what he did to a key card. I liked how Nick learned something about Roger by what the father accidentally said.
Someone compared Nick Heller to Jack Reacher (by author Lee Child). He was similar in that he took-on three guys at once and beat them in hand-to-hand combat. The Reacher books have more fighting scenes than this book. This book had Nick fighting about twice. That’s not a complaint, just a comparison. Finder might be a little better with plotting.
I “require” happy endings. And the ending was good for me.
The Nick chapters were 1st person, and then many chapters were 3rd person which was well done. I don’t like 1st person, but if you have to do it, this is the way to go.
AUDIOBOOK NARRATOR: Holter Graham.
I was annoyed with the narrator using weird voices for Gabe and Lauren (the stepson and wife of the missing guy Roger). He sounded the opposite of constipated. He sounded like he had to go to the bathroom but was holding it in and holding his breath. It was really off-putting. Other characters also had the “holding the breath” feel.
In an interview the narrator said he wanted Gabe to have a voice that cracked like many 15-year-old boys. The idea is ok, but the voice ended up being more weird than authentic. Also Graham’s voice for Nick sounded like a college kid instead of an adult ex-military guy.
However Graham did have a good general narration style.
Genre: mystery suspense.
This is book 1 in the Nick Heller series. They do not need to be read in order, but I’d recommend it. Book 2 is “Buried Secrets.”
But I did not like the audiobook narrator.
It was a nice way to pass the time if you’re in the mood for contemporary romance. It has a bit of a chick lit feel.
Levi never expresses his feelings. He acts and looks like he doesn’t like Faith. She’s the trusting one who falls for him and continues being with him even though he doesn’t say the right words. All she knows is that he desires her physically. I wish he opened up more at the end.
I loved early on in the book the way rich kid Jeremy became friends with Levi whose mom was low income and single. My heart melted over their friendship.
AUDIOBOOK NARRATOR - Amy Rubinate.
She was good when speaking dialogue. She has a nice soft feminine voice, but her voice for general narration and descriptions was monotone - like reading without thinking. Not good.
Genre: contemporary romance.
Below average for the audiobook narrator.
I read the first half and the last three chapters. It might be good for others, but I just wasn’t in the mood. It was getting into legal processes and evidence.
I want happy endings, and the ending was ok for me.
AUDIOBOOK NARRATOR - Therese Plummer.
I did not like two things about her. She used a weird almost dorky voice for the hero Tom. She made 6-year-old Annie sound bratty, spoiled, and unlikeable. Maybe the author was writing Annie that way, but the narrator could have toned it down some. I don’t hit children, but the way Annie sounded made me want to slap her. I would have made Annie sound more hurt and whiny than bratty.
Genre: legal mystery suspense.
I read half and stopped.
It’s hard to explain what was wrong. Part of the problem was too much internal pondering. Ben is thinking what’s going on? Is it this? Is it that? I did enjoy a few scenes where Ben used his mind-reading power. But the rest was too dull to keep me interested.
The author wrote some excellent books later like “Paranoia.” This was his third novel.
The audiobook narrator Christopher Burns was ok, but I didn’t have a good feeling about him. Again, not sure why.
Genre: mystery suspense.
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