Not even Dick Hill's narration could save this book . . . and after a while I think he quit trying. The book's downfall is its peculiar mix of topical material--terrorism, al Quaeda, Iraq, Afghanistan--and a peculiarly 1940s -sensibility romance. The protagonist is inexplicably naive, despite his experiences and his job; his marriage makes no sense, nor does his ext from it. His romance of the feisty young smart gorl is absurdly chivalrous, as though the author thinks each character must keep one foot on the floor at all times while in bed. The plot, while convoluted, is like a dull drive on an uninteresting windy road.This book is perfect if you have a lot of time and don't mind being bored.
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.
The narrator seemed perfect to portray the protagonist. It's an uncommon stroy with some well-drawn characters. The reader's voice and approach to the material are excellent. The story veers a bit in the second half, but eventually the author seems to get a handle on the material (the Daniel Boone interlude had me wondering how such a well-crafted book could take such a wrong turn) and all goes well again. I'll be looking at more books by this author.
I hope I haven't listened to all of these, because I keep wanting more. It's good to space these Nesbo books out a bit, though: it's not a world to live in more than once a year, maybe. James Lee Burke is similar: good, but best not to stay immersed in too long.
I've read every Chandler story and novel several times, and looked into every Chandler reboot I could find. This one hits all the right notes. Someone complained about the narrator, but I thought it was just fine. Not a Humphrey Bogart imitation, but a good straightforward read of a well-wrought book.
This book exceeded my expectations on every level. Not only an adept prequel to an old favorite, but also the beginning of a new series in its own right. Do more of these . . .
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