As others have said, this book, as well as the narration, set a new standard in excellence.
As a fan of Richard North Patterson, I actually had the hardcover of "Exile" on my bookshelf, unread, for many months, somewhat daunted by its length and its background of Middle East politics.
I decided to see whether I could access the book more easily through the audio version, and I'm glad I did.
The story is both gripping and educational -- without the education ever over-intruding and hitting you over the head.
He does a great job of presenting both Israeli and Palestinian views of the Middle East conflict without proselytizing and without, it seems overtly choosing sides -- which, I can understand, may trouble some. But if you end up thinking some portrayals of characters are overly-sympathetic (and I did occasionally), I think it is ultimately a reflection of Patterson's success in conveying the very complexities of the Middle East players -- as well as the dangers and limitations to all of us from either pigeonholing or stereotyping them.
The story, while being thoroughly entertaining on all levels (plot, characterizations, love interests) makes you think about myriad perspectives on the conflict.
Then there's the narration! Let me just say that it was superb all the way through. I've looked for more of the narrator's books and am simply sorry that there do not appear to be that many.
Definitely a 5-star recommendation in all respects.
This was a delightful read/listen -- although it is hard to categorize. It is completely a thriller that captivates you, but it is really the characterizations -- the lead protagonist, Micah Dalton, and a wonderful surrounding/supporting cast -- that raises the book to well above the norm.
I finished this late one night and immediately downloaded Stone's next -- The Orpheus Deception -- without missing a beat. When that was done, I immediately ordered his third.
The only other Audible series I've done that with is Nelson DeMille's John Corey series -- whose books are different in tone -- their humor is more overt, slightly less sophisticated -- but equally entertaining so that you always want to listen and never want them to end. Stone is like that too, but more subtle.
The narrator was excellent. I was sorry to see he didn't do Stone's second book, but the narration there is at least very good (not quite excellent).
Five stars in my mind for The Echelon Vendetta. This is a thinking-person's thriller (and, so you know my bias, I would almost equally give one or two stars to almost everything James Patterson writes...)
I'm sorry, but this was one of the worst audible listens ever. The problem was not the legal mystery and courtroom plot, each of which had its moments and could maintain my interest, but the horribly adolescent love subplot, which went on forever and was terribly written. It literally made me wince to listen to the sophomoric yearnings and repeated declarations of love and longing.
Separately from the love subplot, Buffa also has a tendency to go on and on with extraneous descriptions that unnecessarily slow down even the interesting parts of the book.
Maybe the abridged version would have been better, but I had to force myself to finish this one up.
If you want a 5 star listen IMHO, try Richard North Paterson's "Exile" instead.
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