United States | Member Since 2011
The protagonist of Involuntary Witness is very likable and warm. He is a man whose life is falling apart and the novel tells the story of how he fights back, through the defense of a client accused of murder.
I have never listened to Sean Barrett before, but I will again. He is an exceptional performer.
Sean Barrett's performance of Abbou, the Senegalese man accused of murder, was surprisingly moving. That character seemed so real to me, my heart went out to him.
I am definitely coming for more books in the Guerrieri series. Carofiglio is a great find.
Love the Trav...
These are classic novels in the history of U.S. pulp and they are classic Americana. MacDonald is a great writer, almost too good for writing beach thrillers. His novels contain riffs on human nature and good and evil that are powerful, poetic and memorable. McGee is iconic, like the archetype of the gold-hearted gun fighter of the wild west, because he is a rugged individualist whose life is dedicated to help the weak and victimized. The stories have great flow.
The villain in this inaugural book is a great evil character. By the end of the book you are so ready for McGee to kick his derriere up and down the beaches of Florida.
Hate the Trav...
Don't forget that these books were originally published and became WILDLY popular in the 1960's and 1970's. That is why MacDonald and McGee are a bit out of step for 2012 and beyond. Listening to The Deep Blue Goodbye this week I am struck by the old fashioned and often embarrassing treatment of women in these stories. The ladies are often described as meat, nothing less and nothing more. It's very old school.
If you're a fan of Randy Wayne White's Doc Ford novels, you need to know that Travis McGee was, basically, the model for the Doc Ford universe.
Robert Petkoff is an excellent reader for these books. I remember listening to Travis McGee when Darren McGavin was the performer, back in the 1980's and 1990's. McGavin was great, such a singular character and voice, but Petkoff is wonderful... Petkoff's voice is rugged, clipped and no-nonsense. It suits the first person narration great.
They're working on a Travis McGee movie now, and there's talk that Leo DiCaprio might play McGee. This will create a resurgence of interest in one of the greatest thriller writers of the 20th Century.
Just know, going in, that these books are set in the past and they are set in a different mindset.
I enjoyed this well put together historical mystery but I thought it was a bit long. Lots of research in the book. Steven Boyer is a great voice.
This is my first James Lee Burke experience and I'm delighted. The superlative reviews for the Dave Robicheaux series and for Will Patton as a performer are all true. Burke is a cut above most writers of mysteries.
I really like Nesser. His heroes are thoughtful, compassionate men and women. The mysteries he crafts keep you guessing. You can't figure them out easily. If you love Nesbo and splashier, action oriented mysteries with tormented detectives and graphic violence, you may not like Nesser overall.
Inspector Van Veeteren is an intuitive detective, and a big believer in letting all the information roll in until you reach that point (Borkmann's point-- listen to the book to hear more about it) when you can solve the crime. This is not flashy business, no fist fights nor jumping from roof tops, just mood, clever plotting and likeable characters. Simon Vance does a great job as narrator.
This mystery is about an axe murderer so there's some gory parts but the sensitive style and substance of Nesser ensures that this book will make you care and think.
Nesser is one of the most dependable Scandinavian mystery authors. He's always interesting and satisfying!
I usually don't like mysteries that jump around and don't stay focused on the detective.
This mystery focuses on the point of view of a murder suspect and also the detective. Still, the writing and plotting is so good, and the detective appealing, so it did not matter. I really eased into this book without any trouble and enjoyed it tremendously.
The narration is excellent. Van Veteeren is, on the surface, not very interesting, but then we realize he is weirdly intuitive. He's quite likeable ultimately.
This is not a novel full of insane serial killers and gore (although it has its graphic parts). It's not Jo Nesbo (thank God, I think Nesbo is horrible). It's not frenetic and freaky like Lars Kepler (The Hypnotist). It is more in line with Henning Mankell, though Van Veteeren, based on this one novel, does not seem as troubled as Wallander, and is not put in as many adventure type situations.
Bottom Line: Nesser is a smart writer and this book is very solid and satisfying. The mystery is smart and keeps you interested. I am looking forward to experiencing the other books in the series. I'm saving them and I'm going to pace myself so as to not burn through them too quick.
[This review contains no spoilers about the plot or details of the mystery]
I say "Surprisingly Good" because I should not have liked this as much as I did.
I should not have liked it because I think Tom Weiner's narration is too fast and clipped. Sometimes, his voices are grating. At first I did not think I could get over it, but I did and kept on listening. I'm glad I did.
I should not have liked it because the detective is a pig to his wife. I don't need my detectives to be nice people, but his childishness was annoying and painful to hear about. In this troubled marriage, I felt sorry for his wife and had little compassion for him. But still I stuck it out.
Ultimately, what made this novel surprisingly good was a surprisingly good mystery. One of the key clues was clearly the inspiration for one of the key clues in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I guess Larrson read this book and one part of it stayed in his brain.
The novel is a police procedural set in the 1960's (the book was written in the 1960's). It is clever and well plotted. At the end it is really exciting and fun.
There is one stretch that was tough to get through: a series of interview transcripts with Q and A. The performance of that made me want to scream. Thankfully it was not more than 30 minutes.
This and other books in the series are priced very reasonably. For fans of Scandinavian murder mysteries (Hakan Nesser, Henning Mankell, and others), this series is an important inspiration. If you're hardcore about mysteries set in this part of the world, you have to read this series which is pretty much the beginning of the tradition.
The novel begins with a prologue by Henning Mankell, which explains why the series was so groundbreaking and important and well done. I left it for last. The cover image used for this book was annoying and sloppy. Every time I turned on the audiobook I had to look at a fat bare foot in the grass? Give me a break. A minor detail, but a grating one.
I was genuinely surprised at how much I liked this novel because I was not crazy about the narration. It felt too fast. I will continue with this series however because it was sharp and clever and I think I could get used to these characters.
I would recommend this book for two reasons: First, because it is a profound and deeply moving (and disturbing) exploration of the legacy of slavery in the United States. Second, I would recommend it because Will Patton's narration is fantastic. He has an easy, warm style, unaffected and natural. I am going to seek his other performances out. Faulkner was one of those writers that everyone talks about, he's one of the giants of American Literature. For a long time I've been wanting to read him and I'm grateful for having had the opportunity to experience this audiobook.
There are NO spoilers in what follows because I don't want to ruin it for others. But here's some more details:
The novel, which is set in the 1930's, starts out with a young pregnant girl traveling to Jefferson in search of the father of her unborn baby. Once there, the story essentially shifts emphasis and focuses on a few men in the town, one of the named Christmas, who is very enigmatic. It is the story of Christmas which takes over for much of the middle of the book, before a return to Jefferson and the situation of the pregnant girl. There are other great characters: for example, a disgraced preacher called Hightower who has been forgotten by the town, and his friend Bunch, a hardworking, decent man who, as it turns out, is very lonely. There's also a middle aged woman living on an unkempt plantation. They are interesting people who are portrayed with depth and compassion.
The novel is not entirely linear and there are parts that are very meditative, descriptive and philosophical. Those parts are mostly entertaining because the writing is so rich but I confess that the second to last chapter, which I listened to twice, did me in, I just couldn't quite absorb it entirely. Other chapters were simply electrifying.
If you like straightforward, plot driven novels which go from A to B to C, then this book could be a slog. If you like reading modern classics and you're OK with some jumping around in time, with passages of rich description and psychology, then you'll love this.
Most importantly, Will Patton really sells this story. Thanks to his voice and talent I could get past the challenging parts and experience this great story.
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