I almost never use one star, reserving it to mean the very worst a book can be. For Ice Blue, this rating is well deserved. It's a real stand-out in the abysmal category.
It's bad enough that the characters and events have no believability of any kind. But then Stuart repeats everything ad nauseum. How many dozens of times did she describe the male character's appearance? 30? 50? How many times are we told that he's ambivalent about the attraction? How many times do we have to hear that killing the "heroine" is the right thing to do? Killing the book is more like it, and once would have been sufficient. [How on earth does tripe like this get published?]
I never regret purchasing a Brunetti novel, and always find them interesting and well worth the time. In this case, the issues are exceptionally painful and seamy, so I enjoyed this one a little less than the others, but it was still well worth the read. As usual, the characters are individual and enjoyable, as are the interactions.
As always, the sense of place is enjoyable without the mess that some authors make by trying to turn it into a travelogue. The atmosphere of Venice is distinctly with us but always in a natural way that blends with the plot progression.
AUDIO: David Colacci consistently does a good job. I sometimes wish he'd go slightly lighter on the accents, but on the whole he's excellent. He understands the ongoing characters very well and gives a true rendering of their conversations.
I almost abandoned this one, finding the protagonist juvenile, vapid and brassy, but it eventually began to grow on me. There's some genuine wit beneath the nonsense, and the character is wide-open honest about her own faults. On the silly side, but it manages to be worth the purchase.
AUDIO: Zackman has her flaws, but she understands her role and renders it well.
In other episodes I've read from this series, Coulter used some restraint and kept the supernatural element to just a dash of spice. But in this one, she takes the hoodoo way over the line, letting it overwhelm the story and turn it into a shapeless mass. No plot-worthy parameters remain.
The characters flop, too. Coulter has always been noticeably cartoonish, but didn't run amok until this one.
She's also maddeningly repetitive, not just with statements, but with actions and events. Worst of all, the plot was so predictable that I found myself skipping large chunks, only to tune in later to find that things had gone exactly as I'd known they would. In fact, I fell asleep -- again -- just before the end, and couldn't stir up enough interest to rewind and finish it.
The producers chose to do that awful thing of swapping between readers. Including this novel, I've never seen that done well. Rather, it's
disruptive and distracting. Costanzo has a high pitch, almost adolescent, which saps strength from the story. Raudman is awful beyond belief. I thought I'd experienced the worst overacting possible in audio, but she trumps them all.
There is no mystery of any kind. This is merely a textbook on detailed tactics of evasion. From good guys down to bad guys, and everyone in between, none of the characters are believable, especially not in their motivations. ("That's a beautiful dress!" exclaims one of the characters, while escaping from a bombing.)
A big deal is made out of the protagonist's native heritage, but it's gratuitous; it doesn't figure in, or add to, the story in any way
and if it has any significance to the protaganist's character, the author fails to make that connection. It comes off like sticking a Groucho Marx nose on an evening gown model.
AUDIO: Bean is adequate, making fewer errors than many, but not excellent. Maybe a C-.
Not his best novel, but still light years better than most of what's out there. Rankin gives mystery lovers their gift of intricate plotting and the sorting through of what's related and what's not, whom to trust or not. And admirers of his writing see a new depth of characterisations and introspection. But there's a listlessness under it all. This listlessness is a legitimate element of the story but obviously drains energy. The ending is a type of cop-out that I would never have expected from this writer. Perhaps he meant it as a courtesy to the readers, allowing them to choose where they want to take it, but for me it was a pain in the neck.
AUDIO: What a dreadful choice Cotcher was! And how sad to see him ruin Rebus's last appearance. Cotcher's ignorance of Rebus turns the witty, sharp, and aware hero into a clumsy and inferior clod. Sad.
It's clear this author would be capable of writing a good story; it's unclear why she chose not to. Is it that gore and horror sell? Is she aiming at the teenagers who watch the Friday the 13th style of horror movies? It actually becomes boring in the middle of psychotic mania rampages simply because she so belabors every repellent detail. Even the supposedly good guys left me unmoved. Flawed characters are all well and good, but there's a distance between them vs. folks that have degenerated into complete basket cases. The plot is pretty silly most of the time. Like, hasn't this woman -- an officer of the law -- ever heard of lawyers?
AUDIO: McInerney is a mediocre actress, and is all over the place in this novel, bouncing between overacting and flat-affect droning, with only a few bits that are well done. The protagonist is played nowhere near tough enough, and all the men sound like dweebs.
This is a very stock children's tale, with recycled characters and events. Reading this would be preferable to poking one's eye out with a stick if it were a rainy day and the kids had absolutely nothing better to do.
AUDIO: Blinder is pretty overblown and florid.
I tried harder than I ever have to hang in with a bad book, and did so because of glowing reviews. What were they thinking? I would say that reading this was like watching grass grow, except that watching grass can be pleasant. If Setterfield had sliced out about 12 of the 14 hours, it might have been an okay novel. Maybe.
AUDIO: Hard to judge, because there was so little life in Setterfield's main characters.
This one was a little less cookie-cutter than his usual, but was much sillier.
AUDIO: Hill does his usual annihilation of all strong female characters.
Give this one a miss.
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