From the start, I'm a Connelly fan. But I have to say, Harry Bosch was getting tiresome. So, I'm glad he has a new character, Mickey Haller, who first appeared in the Lincoln Lawer (now a pretty good film). In the Fifth Witness Mickey wrestles with the defense of a woman who is losing her house to a bank foreclosure, a current theme if there is one. He does a great job and is assisted by his team who are just as interesting as the main character. The plot twists at the end. A great read.
I had never read Camilla Lackberg but since I like Nordic whodunits, I decided to give her a try. Never more. Although the plot is interesting and complex, she doesn't succeed in bringing in together. The dialogues are especially stilted and even corny. Eamonn Riley does a reasonable job of narrating, though.
It starts out with a bang: a van load of dead and dying Chinese migrants is found near Huntsville, Texas. The story grabs you when the autopsies reveal the bodies are infected with an unknown virus. But from then on, the plot just starts to fall apart, moving back and forth between the love story of a Chinese detective and a Huntsville forensic doctor, clues leading to a people smuggling ring run by Chinese businessmen in Houston, and a disgruntled Colombian doctor who wants to infect the US population with a devastating virus. It doesn't hang together, although Simon Vance does a very good job narrating with various American accents.
This is the second Carofiglio novel I've listened to and I loved every moment. The main character is an honest defense lawyer in the city of Bari who makes a living defending all sorts of low lifes who walk into his office. But once in a while he gets a client he can really believe in, and this restores his love for the law and brings out his talents in court. This is no run of the mill "procedural" whodunit. Sean Barrett, as always, does an outstanding job.
I hadn't read Robert Wilson in a while and going back to him with Ignorance of Blood was a good reading experience. He's clearly become a better writer over the years. His characters are complex and interesting. The plot is convoluted, many layered. But it's a bit much: his hero, Falc??n, is a Spanish superman. Nonetheless, I loved Se??n Barrett's performance.
John Buchan's mysteries are well known to older generations but not so to younger readers. So bravo to Audible for distributing this classic tale. The thirty nine steps is the story of a "colonial" Britisher recently returned to London and finding himself in the middle of an international conspiracy. He's quite the hero, almost singlehandedly escaping his pursuers and nudging the stodgy military establishment into action. These days, a character like this is no longer credible: the singularly brave and resourceful individual, motivated both by a love for adventure and love for his country. But the main character is far from arrogant; in fact, he's the stereotype of the unassuming and modest but extremely capable British citizen. I realize this may not appeal to postmodern readers of today. I especially enjoyed the ins and outs of the plot and the detailed descriptions of the ordinary people of the Scottish moors and Welsh hills. David Thorn's narration is impecable and his Scottish accent for some characters seemed quite authentic to a non-British speaker.
Not everyone enjoys Agatha Christie, but for those who do this is a wonderful book. As can be expected from a Christie novel, the intricacies of the keep you on edge. Poirot's uncanny intuition and attention to detail are the main attraction. I thought Robin Baily's narration splendid.
I hadn't read a Stephenson book in some time but I remember enjoying Cryptonomicon (when I was more naive, I guess), so I thought I'd give Reamde a chance, especially in view of the raving reviews. It's a big YARN: a tall tale. He loses you with all the characters and changes of scenery. But what was particularly hard to swallow were the crazy coincidences between characters and settings: they meet up in China, in Canada and Washington state. So plot-wise, it ain't great. It just doesn't hang together. The attempt to move between real life adventure and virtual adventure online is interesting but ultimately unresolved. Still, it has some exciting parts and Stephenson's style has certainly matured: he develops great metaphors and place descriptions. Just the same, it'll take some doing to get me to read another of his books.
I've come to enjoy Audible's growing offerings of radio dramatizations. This one is very well performed, retaining the grittiness and fast dialogue of the great Raymond Chandler. Highly recommended for old noir fans.
I'm a 62 year old guy, so please bear with me when I say I've always loved naval stories of the Napoleonic Wars. I was brought up on Hornblower. I thought Cornwell would be almost as cool. Big disappointment. The story of a young officer who gained a battlefield commission, saved the life of a Navy captain and seduced an aristocratic lady on board (under the nose of her old husband) is preposterous. Perhaps it appeals to Disneyland sensibilities of the 1950s. The one good part of the story is the battle of Trafalgar. Nonetheless, Paul McGann does a magnificent job of narrating. So, if you're willing to suspend disbelief and listen to a fast moving story, you might like this book. But keep away if your standards are modelled on Hornblower novels.
If you are interested in recent history of Latin America and the US, you'll probably enjoy this well researched book on Cold War conflict between the US, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti. The author's case that it's necessary to look at all these countries together is quite convincing and novel (for me, anyway). She provides fascinating detail and insight into the principal players, from Toussaint l'Ouverture all the way down to Fidel Castro and including the Kennedys and the sinister Papa Doc. She also makes the important point that knee-jerk anti-Communism in the US provoked irrational reactions to nationalist (non-Communist) movements in the Caribbean, setting the stage for military dictatorships in the region. Experts as well as the general public will, I think, enjoy this book. However, a major drawback is Sarah Coome's narration. I generally like the English accent, but she overdoes the pauses and lilts. Her horrendous pronunciation of names in Spanish and French turned me off completely. I don't expect a narrator of Latin American history to speak French or Spanish well, but I do expect her to get advice on not mispronouncing hames in these languages in the egregious manner of Sarah Coomes.
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