I originally decided to give this a try because I adore the narrator, Simon Vance, and believe he can bring any character to life. I was unprepared for the setting, however. It is kind of a combo of tried and true themes--Orwell's 1984, Phantom of the Opera, and The Shadow--but set in London of the future where fascism now reins due to an overly conservative government borne of rebellion and intolerance. The story reads like WWII in Paris, where all lived in fear and poverty, with all luxuries forbidden or taken. It is a predictable and overused premise, but manages to be still an interesting listen. When I figured out the premise, I didn't expect to be the least interested; maybe it was Vance, but it did pique my interest, even though predictable.
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.
As a former resident of Tampa, and aware of all the crime, reputation, boundary "wars", and perverse reputation for strip clubs and citizen-funded stadiums, this book had me hooting! At best, Tampa is weird with a history of corrupt politics and bizarre planning. At worst, it was a haven for car-jackings, real estate scams, and home invasions. All this was coupled with the pseudo society perched on Bayshore Blvd., which did, indeed flood at the slightest rain. The car dealers are accurately portrayed, as would be the impossible plight of a transplanted mid-westerner. Perfect!
But fortunately there is the well-versed Serge, with his own strict and twisted code of honor. It is impossible not to learn a lot of Florida's checkered history when reading one of these books--a truly fascinating aspect to the read.
Dorsey is a Tampa resident who has an incredibly deft and humorous way of depicting the city's foibles, and those of its often misguided residents. This is one of the more hilarious of the Serge books, as it seems a bit closer to reality--bizarre as it seems. (The editor does need to make sure the narrator (not my favorite) knows the pronunciations of landmarks. The Don Caesar Hotel is a historical tradition, and not pronounced like "Caesar" in "Julius Caesar", but always pronounced "say-zar", with the emphasis on the "zar".)
Hilarious book for anyone!
I was so excited to find another "Good Thief's Guide", as they are always a delight. As always, the narration was flawless, entertaining, and spot-on. The story was a bit convoluted, but a typical inadvertent misadventure for our honorable thief.
The end made me back up the iPod to see if something was skipped--it wasn't! About all that it accomplishes is letting the reader know that there has to be another book. Just because this sort of non-ending worked for the Sopranos, doesn't make it a satisfying way to end a book.
Nonetheless, I'm a Ewan devotee, and will read anything he writes, as long as Vance narrates. Pure excellence!
So distracting is this narrator that it interferes with the enjoyment of the story. The narrator makes every sentence hyper-dramatic, and has the annoying habit of putting emphasis on the wrong words, and pauses that actually change the meaning of the written word. He also ends too many sentences almost like a question--raised tone. Harry is in a personal and professional quandary, and it is a tight plot. Because of the sheer circumstances of the plot, it isn't necessary to overly dramatize the characterizations. Also, this is another narrator that makes Harry unbearably gravelly-voiced.
When I could unscramble the ambiguous meanings of sentences with inappropriate pauses and inflections, the story was one of the more challenging for Harry, and creates a lot of background about how th LAPD had to evolve post Rodney King, the effects on the police and politics of the department.
I eventually enjoyed the book, in spite of the narration, but it did make me long for monotonous narration--which I ordinarily don't like.
Gabriel Allon is finally aging, and finally realizing his human limitations. This story moves him around the board, and promises to change his career and family life. It is a great deal to accomplish in one book. The shows, as usual, an unwilling Gabriel called into action. But somehow he appears more human in this. By teaming up with former enemies who showed themselves to be as good as he was, he improves what the author tantalizingly alludes to as perhaps his last "secret" assassination assignment. All of Silva's books are excellent. It is interesting that he is allowing his protagonist to age and perhaps mellow. It will be interesting to see how far he carries that drift in subsequent books.
I didn't realize that this book was almost 40 years old when I got it, and I'm glad I didn't spend a full credit for it. In spite of coming from John D. MacDonald's area of Florida, sharing an alma mater, and agreeing that he is well-written; when read now, this book verges on being offensive. The attitudes and vocabulary seem to be rooted well before 1966, and the misogynistic and politically incorrect descriptions would seem worthy of the 50s or earlier. Women are "broads", he refers to "limeys", "spics" and "Japs", the dialogue is filled with phrasing such as "lordy me, oh my", "holy maloney", "honest to Betsy", "golly", "doll", "negro", calls dislikable men "silly as girls", speaks about a woman as "40" across her secretarial butt", and makes arguments for how it is understandable for a chronic philanderer with the ladies to bed someone whenever he is stressed or sad. He calls women "fine merchandise" and compares them to sports cars that are "responsive when mastered". He credits himself with entitlement to bed a woman, likening her to "cherries jubilee" because he passed up the "cream pie" of the farm wife. He tells one woman to "go back to your cotton patch, cornpone".
It would be more understandable if he was really channelling Sam Spade; but the misogyny of Spade's era was legendary, and considerably before the 60s. Consequently, Travis appeared an egotistic, self-agrandizing buffoon who considered himself to be God's gift to women everywhere. The plot was predictable, and he was lame. The novel came off as as he would describe as "dime store". Forgivable if placed in the 40s, but unevolved and thereby distractingly trite even for the 60s.
I know there is a huge contingent of Travis McGee fans, which is why I finally read this. For the life of me, I can't figure out why. It is like watching a movie when "talkies" were first made, with similar dialogue and depth of character.
So glad that this "book" was free, and I can see why. All it is is the toneless recitation of solved and unsolved LA murder cases. It is hard to imagine how it could have been more mind-numbing.
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