Kinsey Milhone always delivers, and Judy Kaye is a great narrator. However, this book has a more interesting, complex plot than usual, and the characters are deeper than in some other Grafton novels. This one's also fun because you get a chance to see Milhone through a gangster's eyes.
The production quality and narrator for this book were so good that they kept me going even when the book itself drove me nuts.
Apparently, this book has been controversial because of the author's use of dialect imagined to be of the day. I found this to be one of the stronger, more inventive aspects of the book - the language is vivid and colorful, and did not find it racist as it applied to all characters, black and white.
The book uses realism to defend its use of dialect in the narrative; however, the shallow, feckless treatment of slavery and prostitution is so white-washed that it becomes offensive. The book also stretches credulity many times: e.g., a drunk, 13-year old slave girl living in a whorehouse is never subjected to rough treatment by the white, frontiersmen customers (there are many situations like this - including a ridiculous encounter with Frederick Douglas.) The only way the teenaged narrator's perspective on is believable is if we were white readers in 1936 and we Prissy from Gone with the Wind had written a book.
The book is also tiresomely repetitive in several spots - plot lines being repeated and repeated to make sure the reader gets it, some of the same expressions over-used until they become hackneyed; the book needed a tougher editor.
The pity of it for me is that John Brown and the raid on Harper's Ferry and its place in the civil war is a subject of personal interest, but this book does little to illuminate potential aspects of Brown's character and trivializes the impact of his followers, including the African-Americans who followed him.
The end of the book (after the raid), has some dignity denied throughout the rest of the book, and does try to do something redeemable with the central analogy around the now-extinct Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, but it's too little, too late.
Most of the book is like watching Al Jolson, in blackface, sing "Mammy." An offensive and very outdated stereotype.
This book is a useful and interesting dive into what makes the 4% of humans with no conscience tick. Martha Stout is refreshingly gimlet-eyed over sociopaths, not sympathetic towards them, and focuses the book on how normal people of conscience can protect themselves from these people. She also includes some interesting perspectives about what in American culture might empower sociopaths where they could be muted in some non-Western cultures. Interesting and not overly long. Competent narrator.
A well-plotted novel rich with the vernacular of the Irish working class. Part nostalgic coming-of-age memoir, part class commentary, part detective novel, and part examination of what it means to be a modern man wrestling with your inner demons. What works for Dennis Lahaine, Frank McCourt, and good mystery writers all works here - interesting characters who are well-articulated enough to make you care what happens to them, shades of light and dark, an appealing anti-hero,and rich layers of the language of Dublin's working class.
The narrator (Tim Gerard Reynolds) is SPECTACULAR and adds significantly to the enjoyment of the book. His rich capabilities with accent and the Dublin dialogue really makes the characters come alive. I would listen to other books just because they're narrated by this guy. He's as perfect a match to the book as Patrick Tull is to the Aubrey-Maturin books or Will Patton is to James Lee Burke.
This is my first Tana French book; the others are already on my Audible wish list. Highly recommended.
What a completely charming book, pretty and witty even as it wrestles with some serious themes around race, class, urbanization, and getting old. Major Pettigrew, Mrs. Ali, and many of the supporting characters are thoroughly likable, and their supporting cast is interesting and engaging.
The book is also quite funny in places.I was completely engaged throughout and felt like I had new friends at the end. Narrator does a great job.
This book is completely beautiful. Rhodes paints the driftless region of southwestern Wisconsin with a delicate hand that captures its beauty and its metaphysical power. Every character, whether it's a mysterious cougar, a cross old farmer, a fighting dog, or a brilliant woman in a wheelchair, is perfectly drawn and someone you'd like to know. The plot is at once pastoral and also suspenseful and driving forward - compelling, but with the volume turned down to a whisper, asking you to lean in.
Rhodes' personal story is equally compelling and an interesting harmony with this book.
I'm a Robicheaux/Purcell fan, so don't look to me for the most objective of reviews.
Dave seems to have left his maudlin, end-of-life worldview behind since the last couple of books, and Clete is as sparkling and ridiculous as ever. The plot contains its usual bunch of miscreants and mean rich people doing unspeakable things.
The real star of this book was Montana's Bitterroot Valley, which Burke captures in such evocative detail that it almost drives you out the door to head west. The guy is a landscape poet.
Gretchen, Alafair and Molly all have roles in this book, although I don't enjoy them. Alafair is such a hard character - but she never fought in Vietnam, she never worked for NOPD - she's just a stubborn and lippy pain in the butt. Gretchen, who's had a crappy life, is a much more sympathetic character and softer, even though she kills a few folks.
Will Patton nails the narrative - a perfect fit for Burke.
A very well performed reading of an interesting plot about young love between a rather privileged, clever girl and a bright boy plagued by schizophrenia, and a much more interesting supporting character. The plot and Eugenides' excellent writing keeps you moving through the book, despite either protagonists' ability to generate a great deal of sympathy. In the end, it's Mitchell, the anti-hero and supporting (almost lead) character that holds the interest the most.
The researcher appears to be trying to be quite objective in this treatment of an extraordinary marriage. Franklin and Eleanor appear to be quite modern and surrounded by an entourage of friends, flirtations and philandery that make quite a travelling circus troupe as they move from mansion to mansion creating change in the U.S. Franklin comes out a bit better than Eleanor - clearly a masterful politician and very loyal to all of his mistresses, if not physically, at least emotionally. Hard to imagine who he could have married if NOT Eleanor, who built quite an independent life for herself. Overall, the book gives us a look at two truly unconventional people.
I love Paris. I love Paris in the 20's. I love the emerging modernists - Gertrude Stein, Hemmingway, and all of the other artists lurking the grotty streets after WWI. I love burly, noir protagonists.
This book had all of those virtues front-loaded into it, and it STILL was a complete chore to finish it.
Spoilerish-Alert: The plot - Girl disappears. Slouching, manly detective with pugilistic tendencies and a soft spot for pretty dames investigates. Girl is still missing, insert old flame with a fake HAND for cryin' out loud. Generate exactly NO sexual tension. Insert shell-shocked brother of old flame who has unexplained psychic abilities. Background for all of this is Dali, Man Ray, Hemmingway, and a creepy count all obsessed with death and making stuff out of bones. Have a few creepy but not very interesting nights at strange parties and boring gothic theatre experiences. Five minutes before end of book, prove that the character you suspected all along is a serial killer, but introduce completely tangential evidence and reasons that have almost no precedent.
By the end of the book, you're just begging for it to be over so you can go on to your next book.
Narrator does a good job with this endless story.
It is hard to believe that less than 75 years ago, all of Europe was under fascist rule - except for tiny England and Stalin-led Russia. Most of the western "civilized" world were under authoritarian rule that used violence and thought oppression to stay in power. Follett's well-drawn characters help us connect personally with the cost of this tragedy.
As in the first book, Fall of Giants, Follet does a great job making complex political relationships seem real and tangible through their impact on characters in the book. The characters are deeper and richer in this book than they were in the first book - its easier to empathize with all of them.
A couple of things stretched credulity - the illegitimate son who manages to be on the ship with Churchill and Roosevelt AND in the bowels of the Manhattan project, but you forgive Follett because you want to know what's going on. I appreciated how clearly life in Nazi Germany was portrayed - the decade before the war was really harsh, and Americans often don't understand this aspect of the Nazis before we finally got involved. I thought his treatment of America before Pearl Harbor was a bit gentle; he let us off pretty easily given that our government knew about the Holocaust for years and did nothing. It was fascinating to see the role the Catholic Church played in supporting the Nazis, and then how they tried too little, too late to fix the mistake.
I read this book in conjunction with In the Garden of Beasts (Erik Larson non-fiction about American ambassador in Berlin 1933-1934). What a horrific time, and what a lesson to think about how to prevent it from happening again.
The reader is ok - a little stiff for my taste, but competent and well-paced. He's not very good with the female characters, and his American accent is terrible, but he's a great fit for the Brits and the Germans, and he does a pretty good job with the Russians.
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