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Brian

Authors I like: Patrick O'Brian, Frederick Forsyth, Jane Austen, John Le Carre, Alan Furst, Jon Krakauer, Ernest Hemingway.

Lexington, KY, United States | Member Since 2011

37
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 22 reviews
  • 29 ratings
  • 184 titles in library
  • 7 purchased in 2014
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  • Uncommon Danger

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Eric Ambler
    • Narrated By Simon Poland
    Overall
    (34)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (21)

    Kenton’s career as a journalist depends on his facility with languages, his knowledge of European politics and his quick judgement. Where his judgement sometimes fails him, however, is in his personal life. When he travels to Nuremberg to investigate a story about a top-level meeting of Nazi officials, he inadvertently finds himself on a train bound for Austria after a bad night of gambling. Stranded with no money, Kenton jumps at the chance to earn a fee helping a refugee smuggle securities across the border.

    Brian says: "Intelligent, fast-paced thriller"
    "Intelligent, fast-paced thriller"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I recommend Eric Ambler to fans of John LeCarre and Alan Furst. The setting of Uncommon Danger is Europe in the early years of naziism and fascism. The story reminds me of something that Alfred Hitchcock might have made into a film a la "The 39 Steps." The protagonist is like a seedier version of the sort of character that Jimmie Stewart might've played in a movie.

    The story really moves and despite the age of the book I never felt like I was having to make allowances for it or that it was dated. Ambler writes with vivid details and with economy. He has the knack for incorporating details that at first seem to be merely descriptive, and turning them into crucial elements of the plot, so it really keeps you on your toes.

    Simon Poland does a fine job with the narration.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Rick Atkinson
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (139)
    Performance
    (117)
    Story
    (123)

    In An Army at Dawn - winner of the Pulitzer Prize - Rick Atkinson provided a dramatic and authoritative history of the Allied triumph in North Africa. Now, in The Day of Battle, he follows the American and British armies as they invade Sicily in July 1943, attack Italy two months later, and then fight their way, mile by bloody mile, north toward Rome. The Italian campaign's outcome was never certain; in fact, President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, and their military advisors bitterly debated whether an invasion of the so-called soft underbelly of Europe was even wise.

    Robert says: "The utter waste and horror of war..."
    "The narrator reads too slowly!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Having read "An Army At Dawn" in print, the author's style and the subject were familiar to me, and I purchased the audio version of "The Day of the Battle" without hesitation. This was a mistake as the narrator Jonathan Davis actually reads the work much too slowly for my patience. His ponderous, halting style is not at all natural to my ear and certainly nothing like my own inner voice when reading text. It made the listening to "The Day of the Battle" more work than relaxation, and at about the halfway point I just gave up on it. I may eventually check the book out of the library to finish it in print.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Red Sparrow: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Jason Matthews
    • Narrated By Jeremy Bobb
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1050)
    Performance
    (947)
    Story
    (950)

    Drafted against her will to become a "Sparrow" - a trained seductress in the service, Russian intelligence officer Dominika Egorova is assigned to operate against Nathaniel Nash, a first-tour CIA officer who handles the CIA's most sensitive penetration of Russian intelligence. The two young intelligence officers, trained in their respective spy schools, collide in a charged atmosphere of tradecraft, deception, and inevitably, a forbidden spiral of carnal attraction that threatens their careers and the security of America's valuable mole in Moscow.

    Melinda says: "Sexy Saucy Spies"
    "A big thumbs up. Highly recommended!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "Red Sparrow" is not a perfect novel but it is very, very good and without a doubt one of the best credits I ever spent. It is not really like a John Le Carre book but painting with a broad brush, "Red Sparrow" is more like "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" than, say, Ian Fleming's "Goldfinger." It is a story of real world human intelligence and counter-intelligence operations and as such the plot involves not only the tradecraft of spies but also the characters' inner lives -- their past experiences, their resentments, their betrayals and humiliations, their hopes and ambitions, and ultimately their shifting loyalties.

    There is one shortcoming that comes to mind in that author Jason Matthews gives one of the main characters an unusual trait and at times he uses it as a literary crutch. (Coincidentally this particular character has a limp.) But even so "Red Sparrow" is absorbing and I even found myself over the weekend looking forward to Monday morning when my commute in the car would let me get back to the story. For a debut novel it is excellent and I hope that Matthews has a long and fruitful literary career.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Mark Mazzetti
    • Narrated By Richard Ferrone
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (109)
    Performance
    (93)
    Story
    (94)

    Pulitzer Prize winner Mark Mazzetti examines secret wars over the past decade, tracking key characters from the intelligence and military communities across the world. Among the characters we meet in The Way of the Knife are a young CIA officer dropped into the tribal areas to learn the hard way how the spy games in Pakistan are played; an Air Force test pilot who fired the first drone missile in the Nevada desert; and a chain-smoking Pentagon official who ran an off-the-books spying operation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Dennis says: "Telling us what the government and media won't."
    "Not bad"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is an interesting book about shifts in policy in the military and the intelligence services involved in the war on terror from about 2001 onwards. (Some of the material actually pre-dates 9/11.) If the subject matter interests you then you will probably find the book to be worth a credit. Shortcomings of the work include the way the author jumps around temporally and the overly-dramatic reading by the narrator.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Secret Speech

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Tom Rob Smith
    • Narrated By Dennis Boutsikaris
    Overall
    (322)
    Performance
    (148)
    Story
    (148)

    It is 1956. Three years ago, Leo Demidov moved on from his career as a member of the state security force. As an MGB officer, Leo had been responsible for untold numbers of arrests and interrogations. But as a reward for his heroic service in stopping a killer who had terrorized citizens throughout the country, Leo was granted the authority to establish and run a homicide department in Moscow. Now, he strives to see justice done on behalf of murder victims in the Soviet capital.

    Galadriel says: "Love this author"
    "Worthy follow up to Child 44"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    While not without faults, "The Secret Speech" overall is gripping, moving, and educational and I recommend it enthusiastically to those who liked "Child 44."

    Unlike the previous book it is not a mystery but an epic adventure that finds protagonist Leo Demidov on a seemingly hopeless quest that brings to mind the Myth of Sisyphus, the labors of Hercules, and Dante's Inferno. Dennis Boutsikaris again provides great narration, just as he did for "Child 44." If I were level criticism at it, I would say that "The Secret Speech" reached a point that seemed like a natural ending and then went on for several more chapters of what might have formed the basis of a whole separate book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • 14

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Peter Clines
    • Narrated By Ray Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10553)
    Performance
    (9579)
    Story
    (9599)

    There are some odd things about Nate’s new apartment. Of course, he has other things on his mind. He hates his job. He has no money in the bank. No girlfriend. No plans for the future. So while his new home isn’t perfect, it’s livable. The rent is low, the property managers are friendly, and the odd little mysteries don’t nag at him too much. At least, not until he meets Mandy, his neighbor across the hall, and notices something unusual about her apartment. And Xela’s apartment. And Tim’s. And Veek’s.

    Magpie says: "Super solid listen!!"
    "little more than H.P. Lovecraft fan-fiction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "14" starts off strong enough but the longer it went on the more glaring its shortcomings became . The author's voice as a writer is just not mature yet. He does not write with anything at all approaching economy, and consequently many scenes drag on and on. The dialogue is dull and predictable and, worse, often serves to detract from the plot or undermine the tone of the story rather than contribute to it. And perhaps worst of all, the tale reaches at a point where it becomes essentially fan fiction of H.P. Lovecraft in that the underlying premise is borrowed directly from Lovecraft rather than anything actually imagined by Clines.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Finish: The Killing of Osama bin Laden

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs)
    • By Mark Bowden
    • Narrated By James Lurie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (167)
    Performance
    (142)
    Story
    (141)

    From Mark Bowden, internationally best-selling and acclaimed author of Black Hawk Down and the preeminent chronicler of the actions of our military and special forces writing today, comes an intensely gripping account of the hunt for and elimination of Osama bin Laden. With unprecedented access to key sources and his great gift for storytelling, Bowden takes us inside the rooms where decisions were made and on the ground where the action unfolded.

    Jason says: "The story is in the Details!"
    "Not especially exciting or interesting"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "The Finish." is an informative though not especially exciting account of the Bin Laden raid. Bowden is a more mature writer than the author of "No Easy Day," but if you've read or listened to the latter there isn't much more to be learned from the former.

    I didn't like the narration by James Lurie. He comes off like he's over-selling the machismo angle of the whole enterprise or sounding like the narrator from that TV show "City Confidential." And his voice is low and gruff and not easily heard over background noises if you're listening while exercising.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The God Delusion

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Richard Dawkins
    • Narrated By Richard Dawkins, Lalla Ward
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4378)
    Performance
    (1783)
    Story
    (1761)

    Discover magazine recently called Richard Dawkins "Darwin's Rottweiler" for his fierce and effective defense of evolution. Prospect magazine voted him among the top three public intellectuals in the world (along with Umberto Eco and Noam Chomsky). Now Dawkins turns his considerable intellect on religion, denouncing its faulty logic and the suffering it causes.

    Rick Just says: "Dangerous Religion"
    "Great book, great ideas, hated the narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Reserving 1 star for narration so bad it is unlistenable, I give this audio version of "The God Delusion" 2 stars for narration due to the terrible decision to feature two narrators, the author himself and Lalla Ward. What on earth inspired the producers to take the approach of having the two of them share the narration in back and forth style, I don't know, but the style offers much in the way of jarring distraction without anything at all on the positive side.

    What saves the book and makes it listenable is that the ideas within are compelling. All in all, an audiobook to listen to despite the narration, which I hated.

    Did I mention that I hated the narration?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Child 44

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Tom Rob Smith
    • Narrated By Dennis Boutsikaris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1764)
    Performance
    (653)
    Story
    (650)

    It is a society that is, officially, a paradise. Superior to the decadent West, Stalin's Soviet Union is a haven for its citizens, providing for all of their needs: education, health care, security. In exchange, all that is required is their hard work, and their loyalty and faith to the Soviet State. But now a murderer is on the loose.

    Melvin says: "Terror from all sides."
    "Excellent, but not for the faint of heart"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a remarkably well-written book that is a cut above typical detective genre fiction. It is hard to take though, between the graphic depiction of starvation among Russian peasants, the thorough exploration of the oppressiveness of the Soviet system, and the basic plot of a serial killer murdering dozens of children. The audio sample provided by Audible is a good representative excerpt.

    The emotion that I most often felt throughout "Child 44" was sadness. Admittedly this is not what I normally feel or want to feel when enjoying a mystery or a thriller, and yet I recommend "Child 44" enthusiastically. The narration by Dennis Boutsikaris is superb. Upon finishing "Child 44," I purchased two other titles by Tom Rob Smith.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Ghost: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Fred Burton
    • Narrated By Tom Weiner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (211)
    Performance
    (101)
    Story
    (96)

    For decades, Fred Burton was a key figure in international counterterrorism and domestic spy craft. As a member of the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service in the mid 1980s, he was on the front lines of America's first campaign against terror. Now, in this hard-hitting memoir, Burton emerges from the shadows to reveal who he is, what he has accomplished, and the threats that lurk unseen except by an experienced, world-wise few. Told in a no-holds-barred, gripping, nuanced style, this behind-the scenes account of one counterterrorism agent's life and career is a riveting listen.

    Lew says: "A Masterful, Real-Life Glimpse. Brilliant!"
    "Not that much meat on its bones"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Some other listeners clearly enjoyed "Ghost: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent" and give it strong reviews, but to me it seemed pretty thin. There is a little but not much in the way of operational detail or in-depth portrayal of the various activities of the DSS. Much of the narrative is just ho-hum. The book hits stride best when recounting the investigation into the airplane crash that killed President Zia of Pakistan in 1988. Much of the rest of the book in my opinion offers a superficial glance into the work of DSS officers, and it is somewhat repetitive at that.

    I thought that narrator Tom Weiner overdid the "drama" in his reading. His is not an unbearable performance but I can't say I'll seek out his work in future audiobook performances.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Quiller Memorandum

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Adam Hall
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (71)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (29)

    You are a secret agent working for the British in Berlin. You are due to go home on leave, but you are being followed by the enemy - or your own people. A man meets you in the theater and briefs you on a plot to revive the power of Nazi Germany. You do not believe him, but you remember that one of the suspects mentioned was a senior SS officer you met while you were working as a spy in Nazi Germany. Next, you make contact with a beautiful girl who may know something. Someone tries to kill both of you.

    Joe Pawlowski says: "An entertaining thriller"
    "It starts off pretty strong, but..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoyed roughly the first half of The Quiller Memorandum immensely. It's set in Berlin during the mid 1960s, a setting ripe with intrigue, and it gets off to a fast start. But about half way through the story, an element of overdone psychoanalysis intrudes on the narrative and it just goes on and on until you begin to wonder which word applies best, tiresome or wearisome. (I say wearisome is worse than tiresome, and thus is the better choice.)

    The performance by Simon Prebble is top notch.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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