In the course of a 23.5 hour book there are bound to be a few slow moments, but what's so surprising is that are so few. Besides the fact that Courtenay can write an action scene like nobody's business, I love the education his novels impart. He also leads you into the deepest pits of despair before springing back to the crests of elation with the skill of a master. No matter how long Courtenay's books, they are never long enough. You're in for a treat with this one as there are two more books in this amazing tale.
I've listened to Empire Falls, Nobody's Fool and Bridge of Sighs and I loved each one of them. John Irving used to be my favorite for this genre of novel, but Russo has nudged him aside. Until someone else comes along, Russo is the best at revealing human nature in such a creative, unexpected, close to the bone, sad, serious, humourous, and relateable way. For more on Richard Russo read my review of Empire Falls.
I enjoyed this story as much as A Man in Full. Part of what makes a story great is the adventure of learning things you never knew about a culture and a region, interesting things, and often fascinating things. I was completely captured over and over as this story careens from one cultural clique to another. We follow an unwilling and unlikely protagonist in Nestor Camacho a pumped up Cuban and Miami cop, almost a Keystone cop in the way he tries his best just to keep from screwing up yet winds up time and again as the center of Miami's media focus - as both a hero and a villan. Great story. Great characters. Great performance.
My first and only other Reginald Hill book was The Woodcutter which I loved. Wanting more I tried Dream of Darkness. It was OK, but nowhere near as good as the Woodcutter. I wish there was someway someone could let me know if any of his other books measure up.
After listening to The Power of One, which I recommended to everyone I know, I went on to listen to Tandia, Brother Fish, Four Fires, and the Australia trilogy, all of which were great. Then came this, the last book Bryce wrote before he died. Sadly he seems to have had nothing left. This book is largely a rehash of stories contained in his earlier books: Harmonica player, piano player, poker player, even a rehash of the great mining story at the end of The Power of One.
The other problem with this book is the narrator. As it is, you have to overlook the fact that all of Bryce's protagonist are Boy Scouts, but Humphrey Bower's narration just exacerbates this problem. I would describe his voice as Jocular. Even when something bad is happening he sounds upbeat about it.
I gave all the aforementioned novels five star ratings, and I'll be forever grateful to Bryce and his enormous talent, and because of this, I feel a little guilty about panning this book, but that's the way I see it.
I recently read Clapton's autobiography and found it a complete bore. Almost the entirety of the book was about his failed relationships and lifelong addictions - who cares. Neil Young, on the other hand, is a fascinating well rounded personality. Not only does he get into the music and musicians of the most musically influential period of our time, but we find out about his obsessions with model trains, electric cars, and a new high resolution digital music delivery system as well as his battle with epilepsy.
Neil Young obviously wrote this book without any help and it shows. The story wanders from subject to subject and jumps around in time like a sci-fi movie, but somehow it all works. I never got lost and never lost interest, however, I doubt that non-fans would find this book worthwhile.
This story has it all, especially unforgetable characters. It's completely unpredictable and never takes a boring turn. I don't want to revel anything about this surprising book, so just take my word that you won't regret putting this one in your shopping cart.
Most subjects Courtenay writes about I find interesting if not fascinating, however the large middle section of this book about the woman's training to please her captor held almost no interest for me at all. But that's just me, you may love this part of the book. This was my least favorite Courtenay book to date.
Hill has created a fascinating character in Wolf and Jonathan Keeble does a wonderful job in portraying him. The story, pacing, and well fleshed-out supporting cast make this book a winner. I'd love to see Wolf in another adventure.
The main character indeed led a remarkable life, but for the reader, there are long periods where nothing happens. There's also some interesting period information about the spy/counter spy game going on between England and Germany but not enough to sustain interest throughout the book.
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