Although a bit too reminiscent of his "Play Dead" book, Coben proves that even his older books can hold up,against the best of the new thriller offerings. It also provides some Interesting historical perspective as to how we used to deal with and think about AIDS, and makes you wonder if we have come far enough. The story is ingenious, disturbingly plausible, and so full of twists and turns that I found it impossible to guess the villainous mastermind. As often is present in Coben's books, there is a sports star who destroys every thick necked stereotype we ever had about jocks. And, a smart female in an "opposites attract" relationship. The intrigue involves virtually every friend and relative they both have, and creates a dynamic story. As always, Scott Brick could read the phone book, and I would be rapt.
I sometimes avoid earlier attempts from now famous authors, and generally feel cheated out of my credit. Not so in this case; Coben always had it. And this is extremely professional and masterful. You won't be disappointed.
Admittedly I have just started this book, but also admittedly may not have the interest to finish it. So far the plot is not deep, just shallow descriptions of sex, murder and politics, and the narrator is enough to put me to sleep--no matter what he is saying. It is generally monotone, such as an auctioneer or unemotional horserace commentating. No characters have any depth, no action has any preparation...it all just seems to randomly happen. This makes otherwise earth-shattering events ho-hum. So far, I see no reason to continue this very boring, shallow book.
This could have been a Jack Reacher story, it was so close. Good character development, plot and characters. It really gets you emotionally involved. As this is my first of this series, a few things stuck out, most notably McBride's weird affectation of winking--at everyone--who does that? It would have been more in character to crack a grin. Otherwise, good character, good characterizations and a good Reacher substitute.
As is my unfortunate habit, I read this book after becoming hooked on Grimes' Jury character and books. That was just as well, because this didn't have anywhere near the character depth and entertaining mannerisms that developed in future books, so I may not have gone further with the series had I read this first. I am glad to know the origins of the characters, and how the Jury-Plant friendship formed. But having the characters become so much more entertainingly eccentric in newer books was so much better. Plant is so much more than he showed in this book, as is Agatha. And Jury is too one-dimensional here--his subtle mannerisms have not appeared yet. The plot is kind of exaggerated, as would be good for a stage play, but is still Grimes, and Grimes is generally quite good. Glad to have this one under my belt to go on reading her more recent and more entertaining tales of Jury, Plant, et al.
I really enjoyed the story line and characterizations of this author, and the narration was acceptable--to a point. I could not figure out why so many of the people were given southern accents--didn't make sense, and was quite distracting. The story was very entertaining, and the plot was pretty good, only it was so disappointingly predictable--kind of like watching an old Western and knowing the villain by his black hat. Right from the start, every indication pointed to the murderer, and the "clues" weren't subtle enough, I guess--although I do respect a mystery that gives them all, rather than pulling a rabbit out of a hat at the end. I enjoyed the writing style, which succeeded at being engrossing, even though predictable. I will likely give this author another read to see if he can surprise me.
I generally read books out of their published order, and had read "The Cleaner" awhile ago, but wasn't inspired to read more of Battles. The real breakthrough and character development came for me when I read "Becoming Quinn", which really fleshed out Jonathan Quinn and gave the character depth. Deciding to continue reading Battles after enjoying the prequel so much, I chose this one, based on some of the reviews and the narrator being one of my favorites. I found the character development of Quinn still somewhat shallow, and almost unrecognizable from the depth of the prequel. The other things that bothered me were some trite dialogue. Not sure if I'll try Battles a third time.
I have been working my way through all the Grimes/Jury books, and in general, enjoy them enormously. This is despite them being somewhat tediously formulaic--always a child, usually a cat--but delightful and humorous characters. Steve West embodies and embraces this formula, and always does a masterful job with all characters, giving them just the right touch of irony or humor. This book is, again, borne of that formula. But without West narrating, they all sound alike and the humor and irony seem to fall short of the mark. This narrator does not do justice to Grimes' writing, and effectively shatters the beloved characterizations that have been built up through her other books. He is the wrong person to narrate, ruins it, makes the characters unmemorable and inseparable--a waste for me.
This was an excellent thriller from start to finish. The most distracting part, was, oddly, the seasoned narrator Dick Hill. Because medications, conditions and treatments were crucially important to the plot, Mr. Hill should have been given a primer in their correct pronunciations--very distracting having to figure out what he was trying to pronounce, then missing the ensuing dialogue. His southern accents seemed harsh and difficult to distinguish between better educated and lower-life accents--and none seemed anything but contrived. He does better with Reacher. However, the book was truly an edge-of-the-seat thriller about the abduction of a diabetic child without sinking into graphic cruelty. Other issues brought forward were wives sacrificing their careers to raise children and men, particularly doctors, putting their conventions and meetings above family. It also highlights the harsh reality that no one is really safe.
You would think that a best selling author would choose/rate first class narration--not on this book. First of all, the female who reads rather than narrates sounds as though she is a teenaged Valley girl. She literally reads (every sentence starts with voice higher and ends at voice lower at period). When she tries any intonation, it is misleading as she breaks up sentences inappropriately and puts the wrong emphasis on the wrong words. Furthermore, she absolutely can't do different voices for different characters. The listener becomes easily confused, unless there is a "he said" or "she said", as you can't tell the differences among the female characters and there seems little if any difference between male and female voices. Except her ridiculous hillbilly caricature. The lead female, Samantha, is supposed to be a 29 year old attorney. The narrator voices her as a high-pitched much younger sounding character.
Aside from the grating and ruinous narration, the book seems to have a new (for Grisham) gripping plot. I'm only half way through, and the narration is so disturbing that I decided to comment now. This is definitely a book much better read (as in hard copy) than listened to. Too many of the characters are lost to poor narration and it detracts from the plot.
This continually lost my interest, and it was only sheer endurance that made me listen until the end. It begins with several different readers telling several seemingly unrelated stories...very confusing. It came off as very disjointed and uninteresting, until the end when it quickly pulled it all together. It felt as though I were being intentionally mislead until the rabbit was pulled out of the hat--and the various versions just didn't have enough depth. I would not listen to something from this author again--too much work.
Jury mysteries are always witty and amusing, but this one seems to veer out of its comfort zone by adding ridiculous American stereotypes, bad dialogue, and bad American accents. Kind of seemed as though the author took a trip to New Mexico and just had to make Jury fit into it. He didn't.
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