I have been reading thriller spy books since I read my first James Bond in 1962. While I am by no means an expert, I have read most of the really good ones over the years and lots of very bad ones. I started reading Daniel Silva 2 years ago. I have generally liked his work but he truly captured me with his Isreal spy and art restorer Gabriel Allon. Allon and his mentor Ari Shamron of the Isreali secret service are a great team. Allon appears in at least 8 Audible books and they are all good.
The Secret Servant is not just good it is one of the best I have read over these many years. There are enough plot turns and twists to satisfy even the most demanding thriller fan. The good guys are good but always with a trace of bad. The bad guys are bad but don't fully fit that mold either. Lots of killing and other bad stuff but intermixed is some of the most thoughtful discussion of the Isreal/Palestine conflict I have seen in a long time. The discussion is almost philosophical at times but compliments the action and makes you think about both sides of a very complicated issue, something most of us don't do very often. The book has at least three satisfying conclusions and leaves you wanting a fourth. This is in my judgment one of the best thrillers ever written. The narration is excellent.
This book leaves you wanting Silva to write another Allon adventure and he did. I am now reading Moscow Rules and it is shaping up to be another great one. I am sure any of Allon adventures could be read in any order but I would advise starting with the Prince of Fire, then The Messenger and then to Secret Servant. There are earlier books also but these three seem to form a nice trilogy.
Baldacci had a string of below par efforts but he seems to have come back with King and Maxwell. They are good characters and, while not a good as the Camel Club crew, not many are. Baldacci has improved the dialog at least for King. It is hard to tell if the Maxwell dialog is as bad as it seems or whether Cassidy is making weak dialog look worse than it is. The sound effects are irritating but there aren't that many of them. The premise is far out but you have to expect that in the thriller genre. Baldacci has proved again that he can tell a story and keep the reader's interest up to the final page. This book is worth your time.
Vince Flynn spent more time than was necessary in his last 3 books not only describing and legitimating torture but giving the reader more of his political views that the reader needs to know and "need to know" is an important theme in spy thrillers. In The Last man, Flynn saved his politics for the voting booth and only used torture to move the story. As always, there are enough thrills for most thriller fans and the bad guys get their just deserves. Mitch Rapp even showed a little human frailty but quickly recovered. Irene Kennedy, who has gotten stronger with each book since she became head of the CIA, almost entered the world of the covert operative in this book, taking some of the pressure off Mitch Rapp to always be the one who chose to shoot first and ask questions later. The book is stronger on action scenes in the beginning but even the slow scenes move fast enough for the average reader. If you liked the Mitch Rapp series in the past, you will like this book. Flynn brings back some of the good guys from earlier books, some of the bad guys and as Flynn does so well quite a few who are both good and bad at the same time. The FBI is treated with more balance than is usual. If it is your first in the series, it is good enough to entice you to read earlier works.
This is only my second abridged audio book. Both were mistakes on my part, a victim of clicking without looking. In the case of The Panther, the mistake was buying it not listening to it. I knew it was abridged before starting to listen so went in expecting the worst. I was pleasantly surprised. I could not tell what was left out and didn't feel I missed anything. They certainly didn't seem to leave out any of John Cory's wise cracks. If you like John and his wife, Kate, you will like this book. The author even throws in a couple of new characters to like as well. The good guys are good and the bad guys, which for Cory always include the CIA and to a lesser extent the FBI, are very bad. The book ran over 13 hours which is just about as long as most books in this genre. Worth your credit.
I do not think that an author ever before wrote so many words in support of such an outlandish plot using such interesting good-guy characters. The bad guys were simply unbelievable. I have never before recommended that anyone purchase an abridged version but I do in this case. Many of the past reviews criticized the narrator unmercifully. While I didn't think he did a great job, he was so much better than the author. Save your credit and read one of Clancy's books that are well done. There are lots of them. This isn't one of the well done books.
Conflict of Interest interested me from the very beginning. The characters were well drawn and each had enough good and bad to keep you interested. No one was able to keep on a white or a black hat for long. The plot continued to unfold to the very end. And while some of the mysteries were a little easy to anticipate, it is a credit to the author that he could keep your interest even if your suspicions were well founded time after time. This book gave me more driveway/garage moments that I have had in a while. The narrator was different from what you usually get in mysteries and thrillers but was a welcome relief from the norm. It's not great literature and probably not an instructional manual for courtroom behavior but it is a good listen.
Adrian McKinty again proves he can tell a story. In Falling Glass, he takes a minor character from the Dead Trilogy, Killian, and give him a staring role. Killian is a great character on his own but gives the author a chance to fill in the back story on the Irish Travelers (also Pavee but not gypsy). The Travelers are easily seen in Ireland but the average tourist won't hear much about them. McKinty's writing style in Falling Glass is closer to the first of the Dead Trilogy, Dead I well Might Be, and at times he was a little too lyrical for my tastes but there is enough action to make up for the author's verbal wanderings. And he has a tendency to give the reader a little more gore than might be necessary. But the real bonus comes from connecting a good story with excellent narration. Gerald Doyle could read the Prague phone book and keep most listeners sitting in their driveways for hours. Whatever the few shortcomings, McKinty and Doyle can't be passed up.
Jack Ryan, Jr. is going to make sure that the Jack Ryan legend lives on. Locked On passes the torch from father to son. While Jack Sr. appears in the book, it is only a cameo role. The spotlight is on Jack Jr. as he becomes an integral part of The Campus. He still has a lot to learn from John Clark and the rest of the campus crew but he is on his way to establishing his own character and identity separate from his dad. The narration was outstanding bringing each of the characters to life. At times the technical descriptions were a little tedious and the ending was a little incomplete and not quite satisfying but certainly provided the setting for the next adventure of Jack Jr. No book is perfect and this was a very good book. With Jack Jr's father as POTUS, his girlfriend established (more or less) and Clark, Ding and Dom there to get him through the tough times, I hope the wait for the next installment is not too far off.
I don't know what to criticize more the narrator or the author. I'll start with the author. Anyone who reads thrillers these days knows that torture is a recurring theme. Most of the good authors describe enough torture to give the reader something to think about in a very complicated means/end question. Andrew Peterson went so far over the top in describing torture and at the end of the book rationalizing the worst kind of torture imaginable that it made an otherwise average story almost unreadable. While it is hard to imagine anything worse that almost gratuitous descriptions of torture, Dick Hill's narration came close. The narration was so bad it is hard to find the words to describe it. Imagine the tough guy accents in the worst 1930's gangster Class B movie, then double it and you have the narration in Forced to Kill. But horrible, inappropriate narration is forgivable. Horrible, inappropriate descriptions of torture is not. If you want a thoughtful treatment of torture, read Daniel Silva or the early Vince Flynn. Stay away from Forced to Kill.
The Fallen Angel is the last of several David Hewson's novels about a group of Rome police detectives. While Nic Costa is considered the lead in the group, throughout the series, Leo the Chief Inspector, Gionni the long serving detective and Teresa, Gionni's wife and the police pathologist, all have their turns as the main character in the series. Others like Agatha, a nun turned art teacher, and Emily, Nic's architect wife murdered in an earlier book, all play important roles.
Equally important in the series are Hewson's literary device of tying each contemporary story into a parallel historical event and his use of Rome as the canvass for the action. If you haven't visited Rome, he helps you visualize it's wonder and, if you have been to Rome, he brings it back to life in your mind. In the Fallen Angel, Nic must discover whether a man's fall from a five story building was an accident or a reenactment of a tragedy that occurred on the same street in 1599. This is Hewson's best effort in the Nic Costa series. He is able to tell a story that unfolds and unfolds and unfolds and unfolds up to the final page. The story is excellent and the narration is, if possible, better. You won't be able to use you credits much better but be prepared for lots of "garage minutes."
Once again Daniel Silva has written a thriller that ranks with the very best. While the book starts a little slow, it quickly hits its stride and keeps the reader on the edge until a very satisfying conclusion. In fact Silva is able to give the reader at least three conclusions, each tying up loose ends. Well worth the price. The only problem with the book is that when you finish it you realize that it will be another year until Silva writes another.
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