Chris Ewan is a clever and articulate author; and, coupled with the fabulous Simon Vance, can't go very far wrong. I have listened to all his "Good Thief's Guides" and find the deadpan, comically self-effacing protagonist irresistible and fun. The slightly arrogant thief, characterized perfectly by Vance, is entertaining in any and all books.
Ewan clearly is trying to break away from that niche with this more serious book. While Vance is a delight to hear as Charlie the thief, in this book when he assumes a humorless and less articulate Isle of Man accent and character it is far less entertaining. The lack of cleverness and humor is sorely missed. It starts off slowly, but does capture the reader's attention with a typically convoluted, but perhaps more confusing plot than usual. There does not seem to be as much intimate depth of character (we know all of Charlie's flaws and shortcomings--but not so here), and the characters are less sympathetic.
All in all, it is quite a good read, and I would listen to anything written by Ewan if narrated by Vance. But, I would prefer he stick to the rascal thief character, with his hilarious predicaments.
I have really gotten into Perry, when I initially didn't care for him. The character development is great here, with a psychopathic woman trying on personalities like they were clothes in the mall. And, like the infamous Sybil, she "becomes" whatever persona she tries on. Until it becomes inconvenient, then her psychopathic persona eliminates all "inconveniences" without so much as a thought.
A very smart and fascinating character study of both the pursued and pursuers. Perry is definitely on his game.
While this historically based novel does include many learning opportunities, and the plot is acceptable, it is not as good or as gripping as the similar books by Steve Berry.
My other complaint was that the American protagonist used too much British phraseology to believe he was an American. Even though voiced with an American accent, he constantly used words such as "sodding", "bollocks", saying he was "keen" on something, and calling his friends "mates". It interferes with the credibility of the character. Other than that, the plot was the requisite discovery of millennia-old riches lost to history. Not very original, but not a bad read.
The reason I gave it 4 stars was that it did include some interesting historical facts, making it not a complete fantasy.
I have become a Perry convert, but not of the Butcher's Boy series. I love the other books, such as this, where invariably, an innocent bystander, minding his own business, somehow becomes involved in a mess of someone else's paranoia or misunderstanding, and goes from boring pacifist to intelligent activist. And, often these "nobodies" turn out to have depth and character they never would have realized, had it not been for strange twists of fate.
The narrator is great--much the same stealth-type characterization as the tone of the books--seemingly monotonous, but just understated--perfect! Love him, but he does need to learn to pronounce "careen" (he says "Karen") and "jewelry" (he says "jew-le-ry"). Kind of jarring.
But these books, unlike the Butcher's Boy book I read, actually develop the characters, and show their foibles; which practically all have. They are really hilarious in a not-laughing-out-loud sort of way. Kind of like Tony Soprano going the the therapist.
It took me a long time to warm up to Perry, as I didn't like the one Butcher's Boy book I read, for lack of personality, humor or cleverness. This book, however, has it all. Twists of fate turn into convoluted disasters born of mistaken impressions and identities. Although read in somewhat of a monotone, the narrator was perfect--understated irony. And, these unwitting villains/victims have personality and perseverance. It is a thoroughly enjoyable romp worthy of O'Henry. I'm now a Perry fan!
I was so looking forward to this Baldacci book--they are almost always so entertaining and engrossingly narrated. I don't know where they found this "narrator", but he is so monotonous and downright unbearable, I'm not sure I will finish the book--or if I do, I won't remember, as he certainly doesn't hold your attention. He reads as though faced with the daunting and boring task of reading a long book out loud quickly. His voice intonation seems always the same, and begins each sentence with a higher pitch and ends with a lower pitch. The story does not deserve this, as it would be worth listening to with a decent narrator. Scott Brick would have the reader totally engaged, but this guy is a great remedy for insomnia--puts you to sleep even if you're not sleepy. He also fails to characterize voices well, or at all, and it is difficult to distinguish between them, so they all run together. It is infuriating to wait list a book and eagerly look forward to it, then have it mind-numbingly presented.
Th e story COULD be engaging, as it is a decent plot. Plane crash, industrial espionage, survivor struggle to uncover the plot. I haven't finished it, and don't know that I will--it doesn't hold my attention. It reminds me of someone being forced to read a very long book to a child, and just going through the motions, making it as uninteresting as possible, so the child will go to sleep. He succeeds--the monotony and lack of any discernible talent or characterization will definitely make you tune out.
A lesser author maybe--but Baldacci? What were they thinking???
I will probably prefer to read the written version of this, and not subject myself to the discomfort of trying to concentrate on this awful reading.
I would NOT recommend it, even though I adore Baldacci. This reader does his work a terrible injustice.
I originally loved Coben for his Myron Bolitar books, which were entertaining based on, not only a good mystery, but great characters with witty repartee, such as Myron and Winn. Myron was self-effacing and the wise-cracking was clever. Then Coben switched to a much more dramatic and less fun venue, where there was always a missing or abducted child or loved one, and has basically continued that formula through to this book. This book, in my opinion, was better than the heart-wrenching loss dramas of most preceding books, in that it was more entertaining. But, it was also kind of sappy and melodramatic with Scott Brick making it even sappier than it had to be--and I'm a huge fan of Brick's. However, the wit and clever dialogue balanced out the over-the-top drama, and all in all, I think the book is a big improvement, and a winner.
One of the many reasons I love Cara Black's novels which take place in Paris, is that it brings back wonderful memories and allows me to actually visualize her settings. I spent several months a year in Paris, and had become accustomed to her "in" way of doing things. Another reason was that I liked the mysteries and story line, which in the past were brought to life perfectly by a great narrator, whose French accent and pronunciation were right on. It was like having a mini-French review with each book, and learning more slang. I also learned even more about Paris, which seemed impossible.
Not with this book, however. It still has a great story line and offers great visual insight into Paris haunts, habits and customs, but not pronunciations of the French terms she uses repeatedly in all her books. They are continually mispronounced in French, or pronounced here as one would in English. It is terribly distracting. The French word "frison" is pronounced "freezone" (accent on the last syllable), not "frishin".
The second thing that was irritating about this narrator was that she read so fast! I had to keep checking my iPhone to make sure the speed was set correctly at 1x. It was.
The third in many of the irritating qualities of this narrator was that she could not vocally characterize men. Morbier sounded ridiculous, the young kid intern sounded as if he had a cold, and every other male was cartoonishly voiced. Why change narrators?
In short, this book would be better read than listened to, with this narrator. I don't follow the plot closely due to her hurried mutilations.
Cara--please write more books, but PLEASE go back to the former narrator!!
I am still finding what I like in Perry's books--I tend to not like the Butcher's Boy series, unlike most listeners, in favor of a more human and personable murderer. It does bother me a bit that all females appear to be characterized as brainless and trivial to the plots. However, this is a good story, but the Till protagonist is so poorly narrated that it almost ruins it for me. He is made to sound like he has perpetual laryngitis, or like Batman trying to disguise his voice. He also makes the female characterizations whiny and over the top. But, it has encouraged me; and, although not at delightful as the Ripley books, Perry's murderers are oddly interesting.
To anyone who has spent any time at large amusement parks (I lived near Disney World for awhile), this is too close for comfort. So many points hit home and ring true. This was a farfetched (as are many of Child's) but close enough to reality to cause pause. Scott Brick, as usual does a masterful job; but someone has GOT to clue him in on how to pronounce "careened". He has pronounced it "karinned" in one too many books. Other than that, typically masterful in suspense and unique subject matter.
Somehow Harry seems older and gruffer with Len Cariou narrating. It is hard to picture him as a relatively young man, given the characterization. However, the Bosch series never disappoint, and this fits the bill, as well.
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