This is a great book, beautifully researched and written. I wish, however, that I had bought the hard copy. The narrator's style was cold and uninvolving, although at the beginning I was hoping to get used to it. After 40 hours, unfortunately, I did not; she lacked all passion for her subject. Doris Kearns Goodwin would have been a much better choice as reader. It didn't matter to me that Toren was a woman, and she has a beautiful speaking voice. This brilliant book deserved better.
I enjoyed this story. It kept me on the edge of my seat. The reader was excellent. My only problem was how clueless the main character seemed throughout the first half of the book. She never seemed to ask herself why the police were questioning her, why strange things were happening, why she couldn't reach her husband. It's as though on some subconscious level she knew but didn't want to know, which is a hard premise to swallow when she is a therapist who wrote a book called "You Should Have Known." This made the book less than great in my mind, even though it was a fun read.
This was a strange book. The first half was engrossing as it recounted the harrowing journey of a group of English women and children taken prisoner by the Japanese during WW I I. Jean Paget, the protagonist, rose to the occasion heroically, leading the group through the ordeal. But it was recounted by her lawyer/guardian, who told the tale with a total lack of passion.
This became a real problem in the second half, when we followed Jean to Australia, where she looked for an Aussie man who had been tortured for helping her group back in the war. The author wrests any suspense from this meeting, because both people involved were told that they were looking for each other.
Her efforts to set up a prosperous town were recounted with little emotion. First she did this... Then she did this. Then this... Through it all she was perfection itself. Then she and Joe got married... Then they had two sons... All of this from the point of view of the elderly lawyer back in England, who received letters from her through the years. You were never to wonder what happens next, and there was nothing to keep the reader at all interested in the story. Save yourself a credit.
I love this series. All of the recurring characters are extremely likeable and fleshed out. The story is complex, and the dilemma between journalistic ethics and the cold, hard reality of a serial killer is explored well. Despite the grim story, Bruce always provides some funny moments and quirky characters, of which Larry Bird, the bird, is an example. He continues to grow his characters, as the rich boy son of the publisher, "Thanks Dad" Mason, goes against type as an increasingly mature reporter and the ethical soul of the tale. I could quibble with a few unsuccessful (for me) short cuts and off notes, but this book is so likeable and gripping, I give it a pass.
And then I must call out the reader, Jeff Woodman. He is so perfect that I feel sorry for people who just read the book and miss out on his perfect delivery, wonderful accents and timing genius. He elevates this book to well beyond what is written on the pages. DaSilva and Woodman are a match made in heaven!
Tim Conway is one of the funniest people alive. Just watch a few YouTube clips from the Carol Burnett show. Tim should have read this book himself. Or someone with comedic timing and dry wit. Scott Brick is a good narrator, but terribly miscast in this role. He apples a heavy hand to relating the comedic experiences, leeching all the humor out; I kept trying to imagine Tim's voice, but it became too frustrating. Don't think I can finish. A real disappointment!
This was possibly the poorest narration job I've experienced in many years of listening to books. It was overwrought, melodramatic, and made Conroy sound like a whining, self-absorbed humorless scold. I kept trying to imagine how a line of narrative would read in book form, without the narrator getting in the way. Reading this book would have been better. But not by much. Horrible childhood, I get it. It's an ugly tale of self-aggrandizement and score settling and trashing family members and others for a variety of sins against Pat Conroy. It sort of damages my opinion of him and his books. I wish I could get my credit back.
As one who dislikes throwing around superlatives, I must call this book an astounding revelation. As an Irish American on my mother's side whose great-grandparents emigrated to New Orleans during the Great Famine, I now realize how profoundly uninformed I was about this tragic period in Irish history. If I thought about it at all, I just assumed it was caused by crop failures for a few years. Now I understand that it was greed, indifference, political expediency, British prejudice against the Irish for their perceived "laziness" and "unwillingness to help themselves" that caused a serious problem to become a catastrophe.
My sweet and gentle Irish grandmother, who was born in New Orleans in 1876, could not be riled by much, but we learned to dare not mention the English to her. I always thought that was quaint and amusing. I'd give anything if she were here today so that I could learn what she knew.
I had just finished reading "Cooked" by Michael Pollan, so I downloaded this book which had been on my wish list for a while. I also recently listened to "Flight Bahavior" and really liked Barbara Kingsolver as the narrator. I was immediately pulled in to the narrative of their year of eating deliberately. I felt really inspired, and realized I was ready for this book.
Some people found its tone a bit preachy, but it appealed to me because it just made so much sense, as did "Cooked." I started buying nearly all my meat, dairy and produce from our Saturday morning farmers market, and whole wheat bread from a local bakery, as Pollan suggested. I just finally got that Big Agribusiness doesn't much care how healthy and environmentally responsible the products they produce are.
A supermarket tomato sold in February is inedible and buying it is just dumb. I'm trying not to bore my friends and family; my daughter gives me the eye-roll. I've started to really enjoy meal planning and cooking, and for those of you who are ready for this message, read this book!
So much is wrong with this book; where to start? With the cardboard, cartoon characters, I guess. The museum honchos - prissy, silly, clueless. Seriously, they're more concerned about the bad publicity of having to postpone the exhibition opening than the fact that three grisly murders have occurred there the day before, and the unknown person/thing who did the killing is STILL THERE? The hot shot, pompous head of the FBI in NY who snidely dismisses southern FBI agent Pendergast, he of the honey-dripping accent that everyone thinks makes him dim-witted? We immediately know that these folks are in for serious humilation when the sainted Pendergast shows them for fools.
Then there's the narration. The reader is adequate when speaking in a normal voice, but his accents (an Austrian and a Scot sound like Col. Klink and the Gorton Fisherman, respectively) are laughable.
But maybe the worst part is the loud and annoying special effects - tunnel, walkie-talkie, etc. - that had me grabbing the volume control button repeatedly to avoid ear damage.
There was never the slightest sense of tension or threat as the plot progressed. I did get this book on sale, but it was still a waste of time and money.
This book kept my interest because I believed I was listening to a well-crafted psychological thriller. The problem: it was all setup and no payoff. It needed clever twists, feints to keep you off-balance. Maybe that maturity will come to this author with time. The plot premise had good potential, but it didn't deliver in the end.
On the first page and doesn't let go. We are drawn in from the moment our hero climbs on the ledge to jump, and suddenly we're hip-deep in Ukranian bad guys who sound like a chorus of Boris Badenovs and enough plot twists to make us dizzy. You could bring your critical eye here and find many Oh Please moments, but it's much more fun to just go with it and enjoy the ride.
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