I read mysteries for three things: strong plot, complex character development, and evocation of place. This book fails on all three fronts. While it is an interesting exploration of the myriad ways that women crack and break under the stress of rigid patriarchal systems, the parallel plot lines--one from the past and the main one in the present--are not equal. The characters from the past are flat and stereotypical, while those in the present are better developed but unbelievably dense! Even our hero, the erstwhile detective Patric, "forgets" things that are essential to good police work and misses something in an interview he listens to again and again that the reader catches immediately. Worst to my thinking, is the failure to make Fjällbacka come alive, as Lackberg did with much better success in The Ice Princess. Except for a couple of brief scenes, this story could have happened anywhere (which may be Lackberg's point, but still, Fjällbacka is too colorful and interesting not to play a role in the story).
The reader is frankly terrible. Thorn would be fine if he would just read in a normal voice, but he gives all the characters fake British accents, randomly assigning Cockneyesque, Scottish, and even vaguely Australianesque accents to distinguish among the characters, which polishes off the tendency of the book (especially the storyline from the past) to caricature. The mystery is interesting enough to read as part of the growing body of Swedish mysteries (I finished it, grudgingly), but I would recommend reading this one in print, so you can skim over the slower parts and do your own "voices."
Ordinarily I prefer books narrated by the author, but this one is awful. Butcher's story is fascinating, but he reads so fast that I get a headache in minutes trying to keep up. Usually I listen to audiobooks in the car, but I think I'd probably have a wreck trying to follow this one. If Audiobooks took returns I'd be returning this one for sure.
I don't understand the rave reviews "Lars Kepler" gets (off Audible). Like several of the other reviewers, I found this book and The Hypnotist as well to be awkwardly written and creepy, not in a good way. I hate mysteries told in the present tense, as if Joona Linna is always and forever engaged in each particular moment of the action, but that's a prejudice of mine others might not have. However, the writing is just poor, the characters are flat, the is no sense of place, no texture to the novel. The events are so contrived that it's just impossible to engage with the story. I finished them both, but it was a chore rather than a pleasure.
I don't recommended this book for anyone with a mental age above 13 who is not titillated by teen sex scenes and references to buggery. No suspense (ghosts are not scary when they have no subtlety), nothing very interesting about Byron, which is what I was hoping for. I couldn't maintain enough to interest to finish it. The reader is okay but I disagree with the first reviewer about his American accent. The "Southern" accent that the father speaks is just awful. His rendering of the son is better, but one has to wonder why the father is Southern and the boy isn't.
I found all the characters in this mystery to be flat and unlikeable and the storyline unrealistic and unnecessarily yucky. It seems to be one of those mysteries written with the movie screen in mind; who knows, it might make a better film than a book if the actors could make the characters come to life a little.
McGarrity might be okay, but Dick Hill is such an annoying reader that I will never know. If he would just read the books without funny voices everything would be fine, but he makes all the characters sound like idiots and ruins the books with his sarcastic tone.
I love Wallander and I like the idea of Wallander and daughter Linda working together. But this one was very tedious, with lots of "and she walked and opened the door, and walked to the chair, and walked back over to the door, and looked out" and on and on. Tedious too was all the awkward antagonism between Linda and her mother as well as her father. A very unbelievable, uncomfortable scene between Linda and mom. And the mystery didn't amount to much; the ending was quite aniclimactic. This one just didn't have the oomph or the sensitivity of other Wallander novels.
Enough of the hero that women just fall into bed with at the drop of a hat. Even worse is a reader who uses funny voices that turn every character into a caricature. If you can't do Aussie, read it straight, instead of making the character sound like a Brooklyn simpleton.
There were two reasons I used to love reading Barr's Anna Pigeon books: the protagonist was a strong, independent female, making it on her own; the national parks were characters in the narratives, and the books were filled with carefully rendered details that made each park come to life in their unique ecologies. In this book, Barr has truly and finally given up what make her Anna Pigeon books special. Anna is the helpless, dependent female who has become a passive participant in events, just drifting from one situation to the next clinging to her "adopted" baby like some kind of security blanket; she saves the baby, but she does nothing at all to solve the crimes. Big Bend park is similarly just a passive backdrop for the opening events. Blah.
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