Wow. Just finished this book...and let me say, the negatives notwithstanding, I read it pretty steadily all the way through. The pros: excellent writing, excellent narration, excellent pacing. The cons: *I disliked the main protaganist, Sally, from the beginning; none of her decisions/actions, from start to finish (the last one almost made me abandon the book) were logical or comprehensible, and therefore I disliked her. *There were 3 five-year-old girls involved, all of whom were extremely precocious, manipulative and unlikable, (has anyone read that old book "The Bad Seed"?) and it made me wonder what the author's experience with children has been -I've known lots of 5 year old girls, and only one met that criteria and she was much less accomplished). *It started to drag a littlle towards the end, like the author was spinning out the story to get the right number of words.
Overall: very readable, and kept me tuned in right to the end, so it deserves 4 stars.
If you disregard the complete suspension of belief required to buy the genesis of this story, it gets much better as it goes along. I was able to do that, but my husband (who works in the water field) could not as we listened to this book during a 12-hour road trip to California. The unlikely possibility of a man deliberately drinking out of a decades-old, murky-looking bottle of (maybe) water with sediment floating in it ruined it for him right away. Him drinking out of it a SECOND time after being so VIOLENTLY ill from the first try almost ruined it for me. But past that, the story gets intriguing and the narration is flawless. That's why I gave it 4 stars. Less of long-suffering Claire would have been welcome (years-long-suffering wives who keep coming back for more being particularly tedious), but Anne and Kellan were great characters. And don't forget that superb narration.
A different kind of read for me, and very engaging. A solid story, fresh characters, and, as I said, outstanding narration make for a no-regrets purchase.
This was a mildly entertaining little book, and I certainly wanted to finish it, in spite of an irritated dislike of the heroine. A depressingly familiar type in modern fiction, an Amazon-sized, gorgeous, militantly-fierce feminist who is only too willing to kick a man in the groin for hinting that she is a "foxy lady", but who instantly develops a personality-debilitating amnesia after successfully defending herself from a knife-slashing serial killer. Why, you wonder? Well, as far as I could tell, it was because she just could not bring herself to remember that she had felt actual gladness that the bad guy was dead just after she killed him. ??? Nor did I enjoy her incessant, gag-worthy quips (and apparently neither did the narrator, as he did his worst part with her dialogue). Fortunately, her role was relatively small in the fairly good-sized cast of characters, and the rest of them were far more interesting. A quick, non-engrossing story to listen to while doing something else with your hands.
Peter May is a superb writer. Peter Forbes is a superb narrator. That being said, I'm returning this book after 5.09.33 hours. I can't take any more. Not one single good thing has happened since page one. It's been a steady onslaught of depression, dementia, divorce, accidental pregnancies, accidental deaths, betrayals, and hopelessness. One of the protagonists, is now shipboard with his brother and a friend (who is a girl and has already been raped by a Catholic priest during their journey). Orphans all, the hints have been BROAD that they are bound for hell on earth, having been sold down the river by their (Catholic) church. I know human beings have endured lives like these, but I read for the sake of entertainment, not to be reminded of man's inhumanity to man. It's going back.
We are introduced to a cast of characters here, but it's like reading a roster. We don't ever get more than mildly acquainted with any of them. This book illustrates the importance of fleshing out the characters enough to arouse the reader's interest in their actions. No one in Smokescreen evokes even tepid curiosity, so at the denouement the reader shrugs "Huh.", immediately - and completely - forgetting it. How I know that is I chanced across this book in my library a couple days ago, where it showed as downloaded in April 2012. Not remembering it at all, I decided to read it again. I finished it this evening, and the memory is already fading fast. Again.
Nothing particularly bad, just...dull.
Reginald Hill is one of the best, and this is one of his best. Engrossing storyline and outstanding narration (by another one of the best) means you don't ever drift off, having to rewind to catch up. As always, the humor contained in the writing had me laughing out loud more than once, but it's never contrived or slapstick. Reading a book like this one is like eating a wonderful meal when you're really, really hungry, and I couldn't recommend it more highly.
If you are a Georgette Heyer fan, skip these new ones until they are released with a different narrator. Ulli Birve is sleepwalking her way through - I am one hour in, and unless the plot can overcome her narration in the next hour, this one is going back.
What is going on? Doesn't anybody at Audible listen to these productions before they are released? Not only is her voice a deadpan monotone, context and punctuation are blithely ignored as she stutters her way through the sentences. Example: "Fountain looked annoyed, and shook his head." The narration: "Fountain. Looked Annoyed. And shook his head."
It's extremely distracting, and definitely not what Georgette Heyer's books deserve!
I have long been a Louise Penny fan, although Ralph Cosham's superb narration has as much to do with that as the writing, perhaps even more. I admit to a growing weariness of the continued plot-line of "Conspiracies and Plots Against Gamache and Beyond", and was delighted when the resolution of that particular thread was resolved. It seemed that at long last we could get back to Three Pines and the gang, with a tantalizing mystery attached to a solid resolution as in Still Life and The Cruelest Month. Alas, it was not to be. An unbelievably far-fetched (farcical?) murder method, gratuitous violence which infuriated me, and an ending that had me feeling like I was watching a shell game (This! No, that! No, the other!) left an overall - and deep - disappointment. Guess I'll just have to go back and read the first few - excellent - books. Bummer!
My husband and I listened to this book while driving to (and from) a vacation destination, and were thoroughly engrossed throughout. A very interesting presentation of events, EXCELLENT narration, and a satisfying ending all worked to make this a 5 star book.
The Mensa-Member-Genius heroine is in a delightful country for a handful of days & accepts a dinner invitation from a man she hasn't seen for years and completely despises. (Why?) At dinner with her host and several other guests she has never seen before, the host drops dead into his bowl of escargot, and she is immediately Chief Suspect. (Why?) Later, surrounded by the other suspects, a glass of beer appears out of nowhere when she is alone, so our Genius gulps it down. (Why?) When she subsequently wakes up in a pitch-black tunnel with a bad headache, she is groping her way out when she pauses briefly for a "Wakeful Dream" and presto! realizes the identity of the murderer, and also (gasp) that she herself is In Danger! (What?) While all of this goes on, she mutters (un)witty little asides to herself mentally. A thoroughly annoying heroine, equally unlikeable cast of characters, farcical plot. The synopsis was the only good thing about this book. Why, oh why, did I select it?
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