I've enjoyed this series, but it seems it's time for Mr. Box to move on. It's nice his characters have matured, that their interpersonal relationships have evolved . . . but they're really running out of variations of plotlines. And as with so many books in this genre, the author works too hard to create conflict via unreasonable characters in positions of power. These become cliches of the bad FBI agent, the corrupt local official, unrealistically bent and wrong and self-serving, largely to make the protagonist seem a strong, reluctant, righteous hero.
I do like the landscape in these books, though, which is most likely what brings me back.
This book was probably a lot of fun in the 1980s . . . avante garde, even, risque, sexually liberated, boundary-pushing. These days, though, it's comically retro . . . but the comedy is overtaken by the tedium of gratuitous scenes and characters . . . which, again, were most likely fun at the time.
The story's good and workmanlike, though Mosley seems to work harder on foreshadowing than delivering the ominously-predicted fallout of taking the case. It's a good walk though issues of race and gender and poverty, not to mention the mystery itself, tangled lives and so on. The narrator is good with the voices of the characters (when he remembers to distinguish them), and reads at a good pace and with an appreciation for the material . . . but somehow manages to fail to catch Mosley's rhythm. Every few paragraphs has another miscue, failure of emphasis, wrong-footedness. There's a difference in emphasis between "I pulled on my t-shirt" and "I pulled on the rope."
I bought this on a whim because it was on sale, but I wouldn't have finished it if I were paid to read it. The doughty heroine is a wretched amalgam of teen angst and New Age conceit, and manages to convert the truly awful things happening to her clients into yet more reason to obsess over her own personal melodramas. The narrator is too old a voice for the character, but along with the author can still not distinguish between the silliness of the premise and the seriousness of the plot events . . . which end up being merely a platform to inflate the very hollow protagonist yet further . . .
The challenge is to write more than fifteen words to reiterate the title: this book is awful, on every level. Each page is worse than the one preceding it. The book has high pretensions of being an international spy thriller cum romance cum you name it, and fails equally badly at each endeavor, separately and together.
This is such a great match of reader and writer that I'm willing to overlook some of Johnson's failings. The character is great, the tales are spiced with well-wrought humor and interesting characters, the settings are a refreshing change from the urban blight of most fiction.The visions, though, seem self-indulgent . . . and combined with the not believable physical feats, the denouements become something to be tolerated more than enjoyed. Johnson could easily convince me that he has walked in the snow in cowboy clothes, but instead he makes it as evident as possible he has not. I'm left feeling that Johnson feels he has transcended the need for verisimilitude, relying on humor and a well-established character, or perhaps he saves his credibility for the final train scene. I like the books, but I'd like to suggest to Mr. Johnson that he put on cowboy boots and a a fleece jacket and Stetson and seek out a blizzard and try to do what he has Longmire do. He might succeed, but his subsequent books will contain a lot more convincing details (and Longmire will buy some sensible clothes).
I began to hope the bad guys would kill the equalizer. He's righteous for no apparent reason, causes more problems than he solves, but doesn't acknowledge this, has an X-like love for the weak, downtrodden, poor and mad, but his selflessness is unconvincing, emerging more from a writer's desire to create a hero than from any believable (or interesting) aspect of his character. Saintly superheroes aren't innately interesting or likable, hence cheering for the bad guys. Some of the action sequences are well-handled, with enough wrong turns to create suspense, but the spaces between are long and wretchedly written.
Following a several-year time gap, this follow-up begins asking some of the logical questions ignored in the first, High Concept episode. It's still good fun, though I found the Family Values motif a bit overdone and over-agendized. The ending shows the story is by no means complete, but I'm satisfied enough with the examination of the concept that I won't feel desperate for the next one, just as I won't regret reading this one.
This book was fun. Some good forensics, interesting characters, lots of info on prehistoric Manhattan, corruption in the ranks, gruesome carnage. Not the run-of-the-mill good guys vs bad guys book: this author has some interesting things to say and has wrapped it up in a package whose central premise seems a bit weak but ultimately makes some kind of sense, and en route goes to some cool places.
I enjoyed this book . . . in spots. The setting is interesting, the plot is interesting, the characters have a lot going on. The author, though, tells the story in a convoluted way that obscures many of the better qualities of the tale in favor of creating ambiguity and conflict . . . not conflict between characters so much as between versions of the truth. Much of this is realistic, created by the setting and the difficulty of communication, but much of it is a storyteller's conceit, creating confusion and delaying its resolution to pad the narrative and frustrate the reader, along the lines of a television series in its tenth year, when the writers have run out of ideas and the narrative turns mostly meta.
So it's a good book, but it requires some active listening to keep the plot lines disentangled, and walks the thin line of asking too many times if the effort is worth it.
I've read some of King's Sherlock Holmes titles and enjoyed them. She's a good writer . . . but in this case, not such a great story-teller. King anatomizes everything, and many of the details are compelling and make the story real and bring characters to life. Unfortunately, much of this reads like running in place: although there is a story arc, it's a very long flat arc, with the rising action and denouement occurring in the last few pages and for the most part off-stage. The lovingly-rendered world and the few characters and the pleasant prose kept me listening, but despite heavy foreshadowing and ominous flashbacks, the story never really got going: an endless series of quotidian events eventually erupted in a flurry of action (again, largely off-stage), making for a generally unsatisfying listen. The abrupt shift from Sedona to England about 2/3 of the way through seemed more a desperation move to salvage the narrative than a logical or necessary narrative maneuver, rendering the immensely long introduction a real waste of time (and I was never convinced King had ever been to Sedona or driven a Volkswagen van, either). The novel set out to be about religious zealotry and fatal conflicts with ham-fisted authorities, but was really about a woman who had lost her daughter . . . either one would have been fine, but it ended up being satisfactory at neither.
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