I love all the Pendergast series. That said, this was as if the authors dropped pages of characters all over the floor and swept them up together in a haphazard fashion. This was the last of the "Helen" series, which played out like a soap opera with evil twins and not really dead characters, unknown children appearing and disappearing, and characters from other novels seemed to just drop in for a cameo. A seriously overly dramatic Pendergast went against his own character here, as well, which isn't logical. In these novels we are always asked to suspend our sense of reality a bit, but we usually do it willingly. This was unwilling. And all the answers to all the characters' life questions were unceremoniously answered as though it were a rush to the grand finale of the series. I had figured it was just that until the very ending, which seemed to leave one tiny window cracked open for a sequel in this continuing series, which has continued true to form so far. It was almost a parody; but not quite. As it was these authors and Pendergast, it was worthwhile--just not their best by far.
The lovable fastidious thief just misses the mark in this book, but the richness in literary references makes it worthwhile. The book ends like an Agatha Christie mystery, with all characters gathered in the same room and our hero pointing out the guilty person. However, unlike Christie, he had an unfair advantage, and the clues were not really there or believable. The "Thief's Guide" series is much more enjoyable.
Book seems like it is being read as a child would read a book report aloud--quickly and without intonation. For us Americans, this makes understanding the Australian language quirks and colloquialisms difficult if not impossible. Jack Irish seems a shallow character who consistently deals with low-life, foul-mouthed Aussies. The differences in the "English" from ours give strange vibes--such as him "swooning" when touched by a woman. Because I can't stay interested in it, I find the plot difficult to follow, and have no real interest in doing so. Thank goodness I didn't spend a credit on this. I can see why it was on sale.
Although I find the protagonist in the few of these books I have read quite charming, this particular reading is thronged with beyond tedious courtroom questions, procedures, identifications, etc. I found that when my mind drifted out of boredom, it really made no difference to where I was in the story. The main character is complex, yet very well developed and the reader is given entree to his inner persona. Were the story more interesting, it would have been a great read.
The book's name is a double-entendre, and it is a fascinating evolution of a boy from childhood trauma to young adult. He cannot speak as a result of the horrible trauma, yet eloquently narrates his thoughts as though they were his articulate speech. When you finally learn of the trauma sustained, the irony of what he does and why he doesn't speak is all the more ironic. It is an absolutely fascinating listen that I would not have experienced had it not been a "bargain" book. I now would suggest that you willingly give up a credit for this intriguing personal and "professional" study of this lock artist.
For a non-Greek, the names, nicknames and random and constant references to Greek tragedies, this book is more difficult to follow. Especially the female character whose odd name sounds like another English word, and the two were used in way too many sentences together, putting a listener at a disadvantage. It seemed to be an allegory for a Greek tragedy, and not the Turow I expected. It is not the mystery I thought I would get from this master.
Although I love the litany of Florida trivia and views of the slimy political underside of the state, this was more a ho-hum history lesson without any of the absurd Serge antics I love in Dorsey's novels. It was an unmemorable read, other than some of the factoids that really are wonderful.
I was prepared to consider this book "filler" until I got more credits. I didn't expect to like it. However, I became totally engrossed in part 1 and almost wrote a review at that point stating how really interesting the plot evolution was.
Then came part 2, and the (SPOILER ALERT!) evil flying squid-whales in a false universe (a la Matrix) stretched my interest a bit far. At this point, I was just marking time for it to come to its predictable conclusion. It's not that I don't love Matrix-like plots, but this got a bit ridiculous, especially with all the Scooby Do references.
All in all, though, I think it an acceptable read (I would probably stop at the end of part 1), especially if you don't spend a credit on it. The author can build a plot, and he just needs to restrain the urge to leap into never never land.
It is hard to imagine the team of Nelson DeMille and narrator Scott Brick doing anything but the best. This was really no exception, in spite of the fact that it was really a rehash of a much, much earlier work. The plot was unremarkable, the search for the holy grail, and some of the characters were stereotypical, but the trademark wise-cracking protagonist, as brilliantly portrayed by Brick, made it all worthwhile. The ending was a bit cobbled; but, again, it is DeMille, who is a master. Evidently he required the addition of love scenes for the republication, and these were quirky and not entirely believable. However, it does, in general work, and is a satisfying read, with special insight into the terrible wages of war.
Having read everything "Papa" ever wrote and studied his troubled genius in school, I was unprepared for this "back story" and candid look into his motivations, beginnings, way he ended up in Paris, and meaning behind his final masterpiece "A Movable Feast". Even though fiction, the perspective of these from his first and seemingly only real love tells more about the man than he may ever have even known. A captivating read, strangely full of surprises and insights.
I have come to adore all the Gamache books, but normally think of them as a soothing, lulling, solving of Christie-type small town armchair mysteries. This book was a marked departure, in that it allowed glimpses into Gamache's normally erudite and guarded countenance to show some raw emotion. And, although the mysteries are always quite good and matter of fact, this one ramped up to raging suspense. It was actually gripping! That is something I would never have described as the mood of the previous books. This book also ties up a lot of loose ends that niggled at Penny's loyal readers. I have immensely enjoyed all the Three Pines books, and found them intellectually stimulating, while still relaxing. This, however, was different--more forceful, more action on the part of all characters, but still maintaining the elegant demeanor expected of the Cambridge-educated Gamache.
One of the most startling facts you don't discover until the author's interview with the narrator at the end, is that Cosham, who is the perfect embodiment of Gamache, never reads the book before narrating it! He doesn't know what will happen, and "discovers" the characters and plot with the listeners! This amazed me, and made me appreciate his characterization more than ever.
I hope Penny continues to provide us with the wonderful little Three Pines mysteries.
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