This wonderfully dark psychological thriller (the fourth book I have read by Tana French) uncharacteristically avoided evil geniuses, billionaires, insane doctors, murderous cops and the other members of the overused thriller bestiary. Instead it told a sad, compelling story of lives gone terribly wrong.
It opens with a confused, complex crime scene which takes the length of the book to unravel. The reader, after an uncertain start, gives a truly exciting and engaging presentation of the various characters in their Dublin setting.
The author is gifted at psychological profiling. This is one of the very few books I can name where every plot point and virtually every character's behavior was entirely consistent and believable. There was no "suspension of disbelief" necessary.
Be ready for painful confrontations and exposure of difficult family secrets, albeit without the usual salacious aspects of sex, drugs or violence.
By the end of the reading I had put this reader, Stephen Hogan, near the top of my list of favorite audio performers.
The story of the "Great Influenza" is an important one, and this book attempts to tell it well. Unfortunately, it is about 30% too long for the source material used, and the narrator reads every sentence as if it were the last line of an epic poem. More information about the plague around the world would have helped, as well as less influence on certain of the scientists who contributed little. The author sermonizes too much, and the narrator's style exacerbates this tendency. I enjoyed it most of the time, but often wished it were shorter.
The author rehashes older UFO incidents from the '40s through the '90s but spends most of her time reiterating her proposition that the US government and military are conspiring to hide the truth. OK, I'm shocked to discover what I've already known for 40 years.
There's no new information here, and the combination of the author's obsession with conspiracies and the reader’s monotonous voice make this almost a “must skip”.
I was hoping to get a serious update on the state of the UFO/UAP phenomenon. Instead I found a stale polemic.
Durrell's Alexandra Quartet (Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive, Clea) ranks as one of the seminal works of 20th century English fiction. Although understanding the setting might require a little research for some readers, the depth of these books, dedicated to Einstein's Theory of Relativity, surpass (IMHO) even Ulysses. Jack Klaff's versatile and sensitive narration exceeded expectation.
I'm not sure why the Quartet only ranked as 70th (out of 100) on the NY Times "Best Books of the 20th Century" list; my suspicion is that the usual not-set-in-NY biases were at work. Among the thousands of books I've read, I struggle to remember a novel or set of novels of such stunning beauty, complexity and human understanding.
This is another entry in wonderful Alex Troy series. Lawton's revival of the world of England from the late '30s to the early '60s is among the most faithful I have read. Each novel covers a span of that time and contains snippets of actual modified history, lending the stories a compellingly fresh quality.
If you aren't familiar with London or English history during those years or are unfamiliar with English slang, some parts of this novel may be somewhat difficult. The writing is first-rate and the characterization, while somewhat more colorful than real life, is interesting and vivid.
The reader, Sara Coward, is wonderful. Her steady, controlled performance makes this book a joy to listen to.
I highly recommend this book to Anglophiles, particularly those with an interest mid-century history.
I bought this thinking it would be a more non-fiction presentation, but found instead a truly wonderful work of literature, presenting the daily reality of England before and during WW I. G.H. Hardy is used as the story's narrator, and his own complex and highly period-specific character guides and shapes the tale. The audio narrator does an impeccable job of timing, emphasis and character portrayal. The mathematics, thankfully, is not entirely ignored; it is given a literary spin that is not challenging but remains true to the spirit of mathematics. The portrayal of homosexuality so prevalent in Cambridge circles at the time is thoughtful and emotional, without any of the political correctness that has colored other novels I have read.
I found this book somewhat disappointing. The author’s approach seemed more about finding speculative justifications for the human conscience rather than deeply analyzing sociopathy. Her forays into anecdotal discussions of sociopaths were the most interesting parts, but they were few and she relied too highly upon them for later discussions.
The biggest problem with her approach was the complete failure to address the clear probability that, like most human psychological syndromes, sociopathy is a spectrum, not a disease with a clinical determinative test. Even the tests she cites indicate the presence of several criteria, only some of which may be present in any individual.
She sometimes delved into history in order to assert without proof that key figures such as Genghis Khan and Napoleon had been sociopaths. As an amateur historian, I found her grasp of well documented historical events and contexts to be quite shallow.
Other works I have read on the same subject are better done. This work is really only for those with little or no background in the subject.
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