As usually happens when my favorite authors are having a dry spell, I start looking up new books to kill some time. And as usually happens, I find some fun story with great characters just to learn later it was part of a series. Back in '07 I was struggling to find something a bit more upbeat and found a book called The Road to Ruin (not listed as a series at the time) and fell in love with Dortmunder and his cast of flagrant friends.
Now that all Dortmunder books are available in audio, I decided to go back in time to 1970 and listen from the beginning. Being a technology buff and a lover of all things new and shiny, I was worried about getting into a book series that took place so long ago. This was not a problem at all and aside from some period moments, this book reads (well, listens) like it could have happened yesterday.
John Dortmunder is a non-violent criminal with particularly good expertise in planning impossible capers. The entire book surrounds an African tribe that wants their sacred stone stolen from a museum. The gang heists the rock just for it to be lost in a very odd place. To get the rock back, the team jumps into action yet again with another crazy scheme. The scheme works but the rock is still on the move to another location. Wash, rinse and repeat...
The book moves along at a swift pace, introduces a manageable cast of characters and gets some good laughs along the way. Some of my favorite parts of this book -- and is carried out in future books -- is how Dortmunder and the team work. You get to hear how they come up with their plans, their sometimes laugh-out-loud approaches to dealing with the people paying them and how well the team works together as a cohesive group. Dortmunder may be the main character in this book but he is not quite the leader, more of the coordinator and not everything he says gets done his way.
A great start to a fantastic series. I am looking forward to more!
It does not matter if you are a very religious person, you just need to enjoy sarcasm and a good laugh with Lamb.
Christopher Moore creates a wholly (holy?) believable character that grew up with Jesus as a child and became his best friend. As most bible stories go, there are a lot of missing years between the birth of Jesus and the events leading up to his being hung on the cross. This book covers all those missing years from the perspective of his friend Biff.The book does an excellent job of explaining why Biff never shows up in any bibles but I won't give that little tidbit away.
Lamb is a pretty sweeping novel that covers a lot of ground (literally) and shows how a young Jesus (pronounced Joshua at the time) learned to be the messiah by traveling for years to meet each of the three wise men. While the book is laugh-out-loud funny at times, there was never a moment I felt Christopher Moore was trying to poke fun at religion.
Fisher Steven's was perfect as the narrator and did such an excellent job I was sad when the book ended. The characters were all fully developed and never forced.
This was a great book and I highly recommend it.
Dan Brown has great ideas and his knowledge of symbology shines through in every one of his books. Inferno has a great idea for a plot but the masterful use of symbols to drive past stories is not really here.
Just as my review's headline suggests, this book would have been great if Dan Brown took advice from the great editors he must have at his disposal. There is a significant plot twist that occurs in the book that Dan probably thought would make the reader/listener drop their jaws, instead it was hilariously unimaginable.
Another area where some good editing would help is in Dan Brown's signature writing style where someone thinks about something then says it out loud. Since I listened to the book rather than reading a hard copy I cannot do a direct quote but for the most part you get he impression Dan is doing this because he's paid by the word, rather than paid to be a skilled writer. What you get is a whole lot of people thinking something then just saying it out loud. For example someone might think "she's going to shoot me", then the person yells "don't shoot me", then the narrator says "a shot rang out". I have no problem with the use of this writing style if it helps with the story but it just does not work in Inferno.
Even if you are a hardcore Langdon fan, I don't think you will get much out of this book. I've been excited to see something new from Dan Brown for a long time and was very displeased. I hope he uses this experience to craft a better book next time.
Neal Stephenson has a wild imagination and my only fear is his vision of the future becomes a reality.
Snow Crash jumps in and out of a virtual reality world and a not-so-distant future where there are no laws, neighborhoods are protected by a grandfatherly mobster named Uncle Enzo. The primary plot of the book surrounds a virus called Snow Crash.
I will not get into what makes Snow Crash so special but will say the ramifications of this virus to change humankind is great, but not necessarily for the better. As with most Stephenson books, you will be taking a history lesson, enjoy some good sword fighting and enjoy characters that are clearly a result of their surroundings, rather than their upbringing.
In a world where there are no real rules, it is very difficult to tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys. I personally enjoyed this aspect of the book ad felt Jonathan Davis did an excellent job in voicing the characters to drive home this unique aspect of the book.
While I thought Jonathan Davis did a good job as the narrator, there were too many times where he had to pause and come back, with his voice clearly showing it. This was a bit distracting but did not ruin the book in any way.
Get ready to learn a whole lot of out there terms and character names and get sucked into this new world. Be prepared to pay a lot of attention when listening or you won't even notice when someone is in the virtual world or in the 'real' world. There is just enough fun in the book to keep things from getting too dark.
Another great novel by Neal Stephenson.
There is nothing like a great Pendergast story but his deep fall into the abyss of shame and self loathing makes for a heavy listen. I did like this story and there are some very interesting twists that I will obviously not give away.
There are many plots in this book. We have Pendergast re-united with a very special person that sets off a series of catastrophic events, Vincent is dealing with some very strange crimes in the city, Corrie Swanson is on her own solving with a family problem, and Dr. Felder is on a mission to uncover the mysteries of Constance's past.
While there is a lot going on here, each of the plots are well played out and helps take the heavy load off Pendergast's dark troubles.
In listening to this book, I realized one of my favorite characters is his mansion, The Dakota. Every story seems to introduce a new room, route, or special feature of the home that plays to my childhood memories of pretending there might be a secret room somewhere in my own home. If you have felt the same about the other Pendergast outings, you will enjoy Two Graves quite a bit.
With everything I liked about the story, I couldn't stop laughing that Nazi's were in it. Perhaps I am jaded from too many bad Indiana Jones movies.
Alex Cross has a lot on his plate in this latest outing. You will find him dealing with a mad man, then another re-occurring character who has some very nasty plans with the people of Washington DC.
What to say? I really enjoyed this book. Since the second book is already out as I write this, be aware this is a 'to be continued' storyline.
Nathan McBride is back and this time there is a girl involved. She is so involved, in fact, that Nathan takes her on a wild journey with gunfights and murderous enemies.
The story begins with Nathan receiving a text with a mysterious message. A girl texts him to let him know she has been kidnapped. Nathan tracks this girl down and then the plot thickens as they dart around San Diego, then various cities throughout California.
Harv and Holly are basically minor supporting roles in this outing so it is just Nathan and the girl. The girl is surrounded in mystery (how does she know Nathan's code name and private number?) and the murderous men who kidnapped her are running a very strange operation.
Actually, I liked the story, enjoyed the plot and Dick Hill once again did a great narration. Here is where the book lost me. The girl is very smart and her need to stay close to Nathan and be protected is what allows the story to have Nathan taking her to gunfight after deadly gunfight.
No matter what this girl went through, Nathan's taking her on this journey of destruction was completely implausible. Harv and Holly certainly would not approve and I just couldn't get it out of my head either.
This is actually an interesting story and I do like the Nathan McBride series but I was really bothered by how unrealistic it would be to put this girl into the situations they did.
Animals are suddenly attacking humans and there is only one person who has dedicated his career trying to convince others bad things are happening. This is an entertaining book with some thought provoking ideas but it is just that.. entertaining. I enjoyed it well enough. Jay Snider played the characters quite well.
Here is a Stone book with a very different start and a unique plot. Most Stone books start at a restaurant over drinks, then the plot unfolds by way of a beautiful woman walking into the bar.
Severe Clear is almost a project management book for the rich and powerful. Stone and his team must open a swanky new hotel in LA while dealing with a potential terrorist threat. The fun here is in the motions and planing meetings that go into making sure everything goes right.
There is a significant side story with Herbert (no longer Herbie) as he helps his new startup deal with potential espionage and employment clauses. This whole bit seems boring and it would be if it weren't for a unique aspect that drives this side story.
Of course Stone's son and his friends are all still absolutely perfect in every way, which bothers me because I think their flawlessness just comes off as fake.
This was a great book and I really enjoyed it but if there is one person I really missed, it was Dino. Sure, Dino is in the book and makes appearances but his is there as a bit player rather than someone right there next to Stone.
As always, Tony Roberts plays the characters extremely well. I wonder if I would like this Audiobook series if Tony did not do the voices?
Dodger is a scrappy young boy who lives the better part of his life in the London sewers. A girl is severely beaten and needs attention so Dodger battles it out with two other gentlemen in how to save her.
This is the story of a young boy who's street smarts and ability to think fast allow him to escape death, learn the secrets of the injured girl and use the politics of public opinion to get what he wants.
I really enjoyed this story. Dodger is a great character and most of it is really about him and his growth from sewer rat to private investigator and. The book is very funny and even the real dark moments still keep things light -- just as you would expect form Terry Pratchett. This is not a masterpiece but it is most definitely worth a listen.
As far as short stories go, this was a good one. It is basically a tale of a mysterious man considered by young kids to be a very evil tooth fairy. The whole story takes place as Pendergast and his friends enjoy themselves before dinner. The story is short but it sheds some new light on Diogenes and perhaps Pendergast's future life choices.
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