I would have to say this is one of the best tales I have ever listened to, watched or read. The characters are authentic, realistic, engaging and compelling. The story is beautifully woven and draws you in to the suspense. Several nights running I stayed up until wee hours, not wanting to put down the player. The narrator was fantastic! He captured the personalities and emotions wonderfully. I don't usually carry on like this about a book or movie, but - if you're not familiar with this tale - don't pass this one by. (I understand it was actually made into a mini-series in the Eighties with some great stars, but I hadn't seen it at the time.)
What a letdown. I'm only 6 chapters into this but I can already tell this is a real turkey. The story is written like a second rate TV crime drama. Trust me, this author is no Nesbo, Larson, or Mankell. Pretty juvenile. But it gets worse. The narration at 1x is the slowest I've ever heard in 10 years of listening to Audible. Out of sheer desperation I increased playback speed to 1.25x. At this speed the reading was a more normal pace, but - of course - some of the narrator's voices now sounded cartoonish. But there's more ... this is by far the worst narration I've heard. Now I know why it was only $5. You've been warned!
Every other chapter was from a PKD work I purchased earlier. Actually that story was pretty good. Perhaps it was extracted as a short story - I can't recall. But it featured someone named Al working for Looney Luke's used rocket sales who had a robotic imitation of cute long-dead martians to help sell the rockets because most people were wanting to escape to Mars. This story line is interwoven into Simulacrum.
I really enjoy Phillip Dick's writing but often find them really great (such as Autofac) or awfully bad.
If you have't read the Looney Luke bit before now, I would recommend this one.
Enjoyed every minute of it, and superbly narrated by the author. I highly recommend if you enjoy LeCarre's carefully plotted stories and rich character paintings.
It was sad to listen to the last Wallander novel - each book has been so well done and you get to know the strengths and foilbles of all the recurring characters. I like it when you've hung around the protagonist and the other actors so long that you know how they think, what they're likely to do (or not do), you become aware of their weaknesses and - when once in awhile they fall victim to a failing - you speak to them saying "No, No! Why are you doing that? Get a hold of yourself!" The Wallandar series cultivates that kind of intimate relationship. Mankell's writing is always slow (nicely feels like real time, not "abridged" or hurried up), giving you time to immerse into the story's environment, to visualize it. His are somewhat cerebral novels, fine explorations of characters, good procedural police work, engrossing well-crafted and topical mysteries, and occasionally (sometimes when you least expect it) frightening encounters. I've loved Mankell's work and will miss Kurt Wallander, because this is the last one, the swan song, a sad goodbye to an old friend.
I will warn you that, if you're a Wallander fan like me, The Troubled Man was a bit of a disappointment. And not simply because it presages curtains for Kurt. The story felt like it dragged a bit, there was a little too much about his daughter Linda, which I guess is to lay the foundation for her emergence as Ystad's new police officer. But I've started the first Linda Wallander series novel and the spark is really gone.
I don't think it will spoil the mystery for you to say that it turns out that - like his father - he has Alzheimers (in addition to the diabetes); after all, the disorientation, memory lapses, and related episodes that play out as a side-story. You should have been able to put that together well before the story matures.
It reads almost as if - and it wouldn't surprise me at all if Mankell composed it this way deliberately - reading this novel is a must for Wallander fans to be able understand what's happening to him and to be able to accept and let go. For the many of us who have painfully watched our own loved ones slowly cross into that other world, a cruel purgatory - this story reads lovingly and feels real.
I'm glad I read it.
What an ordeal! I got through the first 1/3 of this, which is little more than another Southern hardscrabble yarn - the father has croaked, the mother has to find how to make ends meet (she beds the neighbor while accepting soup and sausage from his wife), the boy goes to a one-room school where his teacher encourages him to write (then later sleeps with him), and there's usual redneck stereotypes we've all seen a hundred times before. Along the way, several little girls are killed - but the story generally plods along at the speed of pluff mud. By 1/3 in I had solved the "mystery" of who is the killer, and decided I should start fast-forwarding and sampling, because this was one sloooww freight. In so doing, the kid gets wrongly convicted of murder and sent to the slammer for a long time, but he's very philosophical about it. Don't ya just luv those Southern accents? Unable to take the pain anymore, I skipped to the last few chapters where the now young man gets out of prison and the killer of the little girls comes to town. By the way, did I tell you I was right about who the killer was? Just so you know, I recently listened to an earlier detective thriller by this author and it was GREAT! Titled "A Simple Act of Violence". Really! Forget this turkey and go use your precious credit on the better book.
Well, I guess I've become quite the Mankell fan now. After listening to this great tale, I realize I must now go back to the beginning of the series and start with Book 1 and read through each one up to the time of this novel. Kurt Wallander is such an intriguing character. Actually, all of Mankell's characters are fascinating. Be aware, that if you're the type who has to have high-pitched action, bang-bang-shoot-'em-up, and endings where everything is blown to smithereens - then Mankell is not for you. I saw these described as "cerebral" detective stories ... they're so much better than that, but the stories are intricate and well-plotted. The best thing I can say about Mankell, and Hill's terrific narration, is that you find yourself immersed in the stories from the start.
It didn't cost anything, but then that's about what it was worth. Juvenile. Silly.
I can't praise this book enough! Kenerly's narration was superb - hard to imagine anyone else doing it better. The tale is told with an alternating backstory - in most chapters you first get to hear what's happening with Detective Miller and his associates, then each chapter usually closes with a first-person narrative by the wanted man re his experiences in the CIA and how that steered him to this point. Is this trained assasin behind the string of killings? If so, to what extent? As for Detective Miller, he's really easy to relate to and empathize with. Every lead runs into dead ends. All sorts of forces seem at work to derail his investigation or threaten his life. The story and narration draws you in to Miller - you feel his frustration, experience his fatigue, share his regrets, feel warmth toward his landlords (a sweet Jewish couple), feel stymied by the endless roadblocks. Revelations emerge as you are ready for them; the reader feels Miller comes to each decision at the same time - and with similar thought process - as you would in the same circumstances. This is a long read, and those who like their action hot and heavy, who lack the patience required to be immersed in the story side-by-side with the characters, who want to get from A to Z without making the investment of time and conciousness required along the way, won't like this book. I bet the attention-deficit crowd you often see here in Audible reviews will scream for an abridged version. That would be really tragic. Those who stay with it to the end will be rewarded with a realistic and satisfying ending - not one where everything is blown up in a frantic Armegeddon-like climax, but one where the pieces come together and make sense, and justice is served. Last, I expect the right-wingers here to complain about the accounts herein of atrocities during the Contras war against the Sandinistas. Too bad-it's all true. As is the account of Ollie North and cocaine traffic. Deal with it.
What can I say? I didn't think it was a very good story or narration. Maybe I'm just picky.
Now I don't often wax on about how great these audio books are. As you've probably figured out, there's occasional diamonds, and a whole lot of stones. This one is rare indeed! Essentially a fictionalized narrative history of the CIA from post-WW II through the end of the Cold War, it's a wonderful story! Scott Brick does an outstanding job with the voices, nuances, and accents. He's a great narrator! Littell's epic tale follows a number of actual historic characters through the years ... there are a number of international espionage accounts, with one overall mystery running through to the final end: who is the longstanding mole in CIA working with the Russians since the beginning(?). I found myself regularly jumping off to look up characters and events on Wikipedia to see how real history paralleled the narrative. It's really fantastic how Littell weaves it all together. Wonderfully intriguing and historic characters such as "The Sorcerer", James Jesus Alexander, Kim Philby, "The Rabbi", and on and on. The ending does not disappoint and is inspired. Hell, it might even be real! Try it, you'll like it!
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