All the books I've read in The Bernie Gunther series have compelling storylines and envelope you in the world and era in which they take place, and this book is no exception. I finished it within two days and was wishing for more by the end.
Unlike some of the recent books in the series, this one takes place entirely within the same period of time and setting, Berlin and Prague during WWII. Without giving too much away, it's another multifaceted mystery that begins in Berlin with Gunther working as an SD investigator after being recalled from the Russian Front. Eventually, he's called to Prague and with the blanket authority of Heidrich, ends up investigating a mass-murdering list of SD and SS officers, all of which are suspects in the murder of a fellow officer. There are some poignant moments and the irony of investigating each of these men for a single murder when they're responsible for so many other deaths already, is well-imprinted on the story.
As narrator, Paul Hecht, is adequate, but after listening to the fantastic work of John Lee in the first books in this series, it's difficult to equate him with Bernie Gunther. He doesn't provide the same kind of intonation or accents to the story. While he doesn't really add to the depth of book, he's at least an adequate narrator that does not distract from the story or make the book difficult to listen to, (which compared to some narrators, is a valuable quality in and of itself).
The book starts off a little slow, but soon the reader is drawn into a captivating story of the life of Amelia Earhart, the circumstances of her last flight and attempted rescue. All of this seen through the eyes of the cynical detective, Nate Heller. There's something to the story, a cohesiveness and forlorn quality that hasn't been seen in the Heller Series since the first few books. Perhaps it's the increased volume of myths and rumors about Amelia's disappearance with which Collins can base his story, but there's an added depth to this story, and even to Heller himself. On the surface there's the same sardonic wit and wry humor the detective is known for, but in the second half of the book there's also a level of maturity the reader hasn't seen from Heller before. Overall this has to be one of my favorites in the series.
More than twenty years in the making, Wheel of Time readers finally receive a long awaited resolution to the series. What we are given is well-written, fast paced blow-by-blow account of the Last Battle, strung out across nations as the fabric of reality itself trembles. Heroes and nations fall, and new and sometimes unexpected champions rise to take their place.
This book is very different than many in the series. There is a tangible ebb and flow to the story, at times with an almost frantic and desperate pace mirroring the events taking place in the book. So much needed to happen that there is not the same level of character interaction and exposition as we see in other books, with many things taking place behind the scenes or inferred. There were moments where I was left wondering, how did this character get here from where we last saw them, and why are they there now. Other moments stand out with a feel that the characters are almost addressing the audience directly to answer speculation on previous books.
Of the difference between the authors, the character that suffers the most is Mat. There are chapters where it feels like some other creature has taken control of him and is speaking with his voice, but it's not really him. Once he enters the fighting though, that feeling disappears.
By and large, these moments that don't quite fit are the minority, and overshadowed by the very visceral and emotional action. The bad guys are very bad, bringing a whole new level of deviousness and ferocity. The good guys falter and sometimes fall, but find new wells of determination to keep on fighting.
The very end felt abrupt and not all questions were answered. You're left wondering about what's next for many, or whether they will ever be brought together again. Sanderson was given an incredibly complex world and numerous unfinished storylines, with large gaps to fill to get to Jordan's ending. What he gives us back is imperfect, but still very good and likely the best we could have hoped for.
Imagine every Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book, Movie, Game or Song you ever loved all rolled up into a great big ball, then have that expanded into a breathtaking universe and throw in your plucky ragtag group of protagonists racing against an evil corporate empire and each other. The Ultimate Prize, the controlling interest and future of the virtual universe itself.
This book was wonderful in so many different ways I don't know how I could put them all into a single review. I'll just say I started listening and just couldn't stop. It had me laughing out loud and pumping my fist in the air one moment or nearly crying the next. The narration was superb, and there were many times when I could close my eyes and almost see the entire story playing out before me.
Simply Fantastic in Every Facet it Could Possibly Be!!!
This book is after "A Quiet Flame" in the Bernie Gunther series, which is not on audible. I tired of waiting for audible add that book, so I found a print ed. and read it before listening to this one.
It's very disappointing listening to a Bernie Gunther story with the coarse, monotone voice of Paul Hecht instead of the smooth and melodious John Lee. There's a very striking difference and while Hecht is competent with the various pronunciations, he doesn't give it that same kind of intonation or German accent that Lee provides with flare.
Eventually, the story (begun in the time preceding the Berlin Olympics) grows into a compelling one and the narrator is not as much of an issue. The first part of the book takes place in this pre-Olympics era of Berlin and is centered on interconnected events surrounding the preparations for these Olympics.
As those events near resolution though, the story jumps ahead to 1950's Cuba. Here Gunther is living under an assumed identity gained at the end of "The One from the Other", and follows events in Argentina that took place in "A Quiet Flame". Some of this is referred to in passing as the story moves along, but it isn't imperative that you have read "A Quiet Flame" to follow this story. (I do think "A Quiet Flame" is well worth a read however, and is in fact one of the more poignant additions to the series).
In Cuba, Bernie is reunited with some characters he met in 1930's Berlin, and a new case develops. The mystery in this part jumps around and isn't as compelling as the earlier one. I found it rather transparent about what really happens, and was unsurprised by any revelations at the end.
Still it's a solid addition the Gunther Series, and as it looks like future books are narrated by Paul Hecht as well, if you want to listen the rest of the series I would try getting used to the narrator now. He's not great, but after you've adjusted to him, he doesn't really distract from the story, it just won't have that same flare.
I'd been hesitant to get this book because of the conflicting reviews, but it kept showing up in different places as a book I might like based on other books so I finally gave it a shot when it was on sale. I feel the need to conunterbalance all the ridiculous good reviews. Not even worth the $5. The Review by "Gregory" below is pretty spot on. There is just so much ridiculously awful about this book it's hard to summarize, but yes the names are bad and the plot is random and patchworked. The author tries to develop characters, but has a poor grasp of good prose and no real idea of how people actually behave, and as a result the dialogue is incredibly contrived. It really feels like the whole books was written by a 14 year boy that has no idea of how interactions between people actually occur. There are a few redeemable plot elements and the overall storyline could be vaguely interesting, but any hope of that is so lost in it's poor execution that it's not worth the time or money.
If you're looking for good fantasy go check out the books by Scott Lynch, Patrick Rothfuss, Joe Abercrombie, Robert Jordan, Robin Hobb, George R.R. Martin, or Jim Butcher. Only get this book if you are a horny teenage boy. This is also not the first book I've come across by Orbit Publishing with the similarly-styled cover that is grossly overrated, and I think they actually have very poor standards for editing and plot development in all their books.
Maybe it was just the very bland narration, but I really could not get into this book at all. The storyline jumped around all over the place and really had no cohesiveness and the narration had no intonation or enunciation to it. I know it's a classic, but really I just found it lacking in nearly every way imaginable.
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