Maybe it is just that I listened to these two books somewhat close together; but, it was as if each were copying from the other's play book. And, since they both are new books, and came out around the same time, this is puzzling. Puller is so like Reacher; they could be brothers. Too many things were too eerily similar to be refreshing and totally enjoyable. I really look forward to Baldacci's wise-cracking male protagonists; but all you get here is a strong, serious, silent type. I had never read Lee Child before, and thought "The Affair" a good and interesting story, and Reacher an intriguing and interesting character. Then, when listening to "Zero Day", it was as if Reacher just morphed into Puller, and the character lost a lot in the process. Baldacci can make a more entertaining protagonist than John Pulling; and certainly a more original plot line.
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.
Not a new story, but the narration was uninspired and robotic, the love scenes just plain embarrassing, and the story interesting.
I'm a Francophile who spends at least a month in Paris each year. I try to read all books which humanize French history. It's great to be able to better appreciate where I happen to be at any given time and know just what went on there.
However, this book would be much better followed if read in written form. I listen to audiobooks so that I can multitask. But that doesn't mean I don't pay attention--I just can't take notes or memorize sequences. This book whips back and forth throughout history, chapters, characters, and quotes without the benefit of written punctuation. The narrator (one of my favorites, by the way) does an excellent job of injecting dry Brit wit into the writer's comments on much of the historical revelations. However, it is difficult to distinguish between a poem and the narration of any of the dozens of characterizations, and the "2.5.1" etc., (presumably chapters and sub chapters, and sub-sub chapters?) makes my ears stop listening. It can be very difficult to follow, as it is a collection of many separate scenarios, largely unlinked except for the city. The scores of character names are numbing, although the historical research is often entertaining, and certainly revealing.
It's just that, it is almost like a history text book, and really should be seen and read. Reciting chapter numbers and sub-chapters is meaningless and distracting. And, you never know what era the narrator will begin after taking an all-too-short pause. Sometimes if I am just slightly distracted, I'll have no idea what era or happening is being recited by the narrator. By the time I catch up, I have hopelessly lost my place and vow to get the printed book.
All in all, it is impressive research, and very entertaining and enlightening factoids about Paris and Parisians. It is just a bit oblique for a casual listener. And I really don't want to have to listen in a vacuum, as with a lecture.
Although a Francophile, I don't remember hearing about the Paris apartment that had been closed up for 70 years. When I now research that finding, I see that many stories got it wrong. It was not the original owner, Marthe de Florian, who fled the Nazis for southern France around the time of the 2nd World War, but her granddaughter, which is a mystery in itself. This appears to be the best and tidiest accounting of the apartment and the lineage of owners. It also probably speculates as to why the final owner never returned for 70 years prior to her death, but kept paying the rent for all that time. The speculations are quite interesting, and it makes for an engrossing story--especially as it is heavily based on actual events. It seems to have been painstakingly researched to be able to have woven the intricate series of events that lead up to this fabulous find. Almost my only negative comment would be of the very excellent narrator. Especially when narrating the voice of a multi-degreed antiques expert, PLEASE pronounce "jewElry" correctly! (not jew-le-ry).
This was one of Silva's more detailed, and in my opinion, more interesting and educational narratives, giving in-depth histories of some of the world's greatest painters. It has a more or less typical Gabriel Allon story line, but for some reason, Kiara and Shamron do not play as big a roll as in the past. Another benefit for Francophiles is the detailed descriptions of his paths in Paris. Clearly, Silva has been there recently. The book is fast-paced and mesmerizing until the end, which is somewhat disappointing. It is as though it quickly tied up lose ends and just stopped any in-depth narrative. Still very worth the listen, as are all of Silva's books.
I stumbled on the Richard Jury books and found they had very entertaining if odd characters. Each character that continues from book to book seems to get deeper, funnier and better developed with each. This is the most entertaining of all the Jury books I've listened to, and I will likely go for the entire series. The narrator does a lively and excellent job of injecting humor and nuance into a vast variety of voices.
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