Chekov once wrote: "If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there." Baldacci follows Chekov’s advice to the letter. Every character, every plot twist (and there are many) and every adjective is a foreshadowing of things to come. And, in a sense, I just gave away the shocking ending. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. It is by no means a perfect book, being too over the top to be considered great. But the careful crafting of a detailed and complex mystery is so good that it should keep you in giddy suspense for the most of the book, at least until Chekov’s words resonate. Now my complaints: the sound effects are, at best distracting, and at worst, mood killers. Moreover, the male and female performances just do not work for me.
First the book: The story is completely far-fetched. But, that's okay. If you have read Mr. Baldacci before, then you know to expect the many unlikely coincidences he loves [like Robert just "happened" to have secreted a make-up kit before he is sentenced to life in prison in an escape proof prison (which of course is the location of the escape)]. Having said that, if you like Baldacci you will enjoy the book. Yeah, the male characters are a bit one dimensional, but again worth it. Now the performances: Either narrator standing alone is decent to good, but alternating voices is just distracting as are the gratuitous sound-effects of guns being fired and wheels squealing. Obviously, I am in the minority, but I just do not like to hear two narrators and the sound-effects detract from the overall impact of the experience.
The story is as old as the campfire. Romeo and Juliet in the person of Hanna and David, a Palestinian and a Jew each carrying his or her own ethnic and religious baggage. Mr. Patterson pulls at us to understand the plight of the Palestinians while tipping his cap to the two thousand years of pogroms directed at the Jews. In the end the characters are extraordinarily sharply drawn and completely realized. Without giving away too much, the denouement is never really in doubt and sadly predictable. I enjoyed the characterizations in the first half of the book, though David was a bit of cliché. You will see the end coming from the very publisher's blurb. Still the writing was excellent. I am on the fence whether I would recommend it.
Normally, I enjoy Mr. Rollins for what he is -- a good and believable storyteller. It is the adjective that fails miserably in this story. Usually I can suspend disbelief with the best of them. Heck, I enjoy science fiction, fantasy, historical novels and just about every genre there is. But this book just never works for me. You can only pile too many impossible events together until the whole story dissolves into an unintentional black comedy. I will note one scene (spoiler alert) to illustrate my point. Two Sigma operatives join forces with an underworld assassin and a Chinese Triad to raid a North Korean Prison Camp. Huh? I got the feeling that Mr. Rollins was never sure whether he was writing sci-fi, adventure or history. In the end, it just does not work.
I can't tell whether it is the fantastic performance by Hillary Huber (I would listen to her read the phone book) or the writing of Taylor Stevens. The story is delicate and the violence often and bloody. I do not like the subject matter (cult abuse of children) or the gratuitous violence and yet the book was hugely entertaining. The central character is compelling, if somewhat of a superwoman. I will read her next book as long as Hillary Huber narrates it.
Harry is back. Connelly deals with some very difficult subjects in this book, including ones that makes my skin crawl, pederasty and child abuse in general. However, he does so in a way that is not offensive just difficult to read because of my hardly unique loathing of all things related to child abuse. If you like the character of Harry Bosch you will enjoy the novel. The story will rip you up in parts but the denouement is ultimately satisfying and his observations about the effects of child abuse are graphic and profound.
I have read (and enjoyed) a number of the Sigma Force novels. Usually, I enjoy the ride and can ignore the junk science that Mr. Rollins love to throw into his novels. His formula is to take a piece of true history, mix it with some science and a lot of junk science, season it with a little lust and maiming and top it off with a good strong sprinkling of larger than life heroes. This time he just went too far. It seems as if it is more a paen to Mormonism than it is a novel. That's okay, but his own science gets in the way of the what to me was blatant proselytizing. Anyone remotely familiar with anthropology and natural history will simply turn off to his book. It was bad enough that I doubt I will read the next Rollins book. There are a lot better books that give the respect that Mormonism and every religion is due.
This is a first rate thriller. The characters are all well defined and the antagonist suitably evil. I know there will be comparisons to the Millenium series, which is a bit unfortunate because the only comparisons are the geography and genre. Just plain excellent. I had to ding it a "star" only because of the narration. The narrator has a great voice but sometimes speaks far too fast and I miss several words and his patrician accent is difficult for a born and raised Californian.
I agree with the others. The dual narration in this book is jarring and always forced. Good, not great, story hamstrung by the "actors" and the whacked out sound effects. If only for the bad recording, please do yourself a favor and skip this one. Personally, next time I see a dual narration such as this, I will pass.
Okay. I was vastly disappointed. The concept and multiple plot lines seamed like a winner until the book deteriorated into – yes – the Perils of Pauline. Our poor heroine( just like Pauline in the silent movies) escapes trains, assassins, machine guns fired point blank, ex-KGB operatives and a homicidal witch – err substitute “b”. It’s high/low point is when she and her “partner” race headlong through a seven layer wedding cake (I can’t make this stuff up). This idea had such promise and failed so miserably,.
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