This hit the top of my favorites list. This portrait of a counter-terrorist operation has a multitude of believable details, and flows forward with the inexorability of tragedy. Not that it's depressing or a downer. Not at all. In fact, this book is uplifting. We see how revenge is redundant because the bad guys bring themselves down. it portrays the players in this action as human beings, and this means there is hope for the world. The geopolitical realities of AFghanistan and Pakistan, and the role of the US in the mess over there, is illuminated through complicated but realistic characters. The author clearly knows the character flaws of the many nationalities involved, but also the beauty of each culture, and the tragic misunderstandings caused by these culture clashes.
The plot was riveting. The scenery changed constantly but not in a hard-to-follow way. Very easy to listen to because you always know where your are, whether LA or Dubai or Islamabad, and you always know who is speaking, thanks to the brilliant dialogue and amazing acting job of the narrator. There's plenty of action but it never deviates into farce or action for the sake of action. The suspense comes from seeing the various characters weaving complex plots, each trying to advance his mission. Best of all, good and evil mingle amid many characters of many nationalities. Each character has a motive that makes him or her understandable. Just when you think you've identified the bad guys, the plot shifts.
I'm so glad I listened to this on audiotape. It takes you right out of the story if the narrator mispronounces the foreign language parts or gets the accents wrong. This narrator gets everything right here. In addition, his voice changes to suit each character without ever sounding absurd. He even does the female voices really well, without sounding falsetto.
Absolutely. This book is dangerous to your health.
It's rare to find a believable female character in a spy novel. Often they have the face of a model, the body of a pole dancer, the psyche of a nymphomaniac, the endurance of a Navy Seal, the shooting arm of a sniper, etc etc. Female spies, according to many novels, usually dress in clinging silk and ultra-high heels that then become assassin's weapons. Clearly, such authors have no clue what espionage operatives really cultivate, namely, anonymity and the ability to blend in. This novel has a believable female character who is not extreme in any of those ways. She is not perfect, nor does she have ice water in her veins. What she has is a somewhat flawed character like all of us, a rather checkered past all her own, and an admirable ability to see through the lies and deceptions of others.
Best book I've read or listened to all year.
Erika Schwartz was the most unique and riveting female character. Warning: Angelina Jolie won't play this character, unless she puts on 200 pounds. Also, the main character evolves into the most fascinating spy since George Smiley. Just when you think you know who he is, something changes. I picture Kevin Spacey playing him.
This guy is a terrific reader. He has no tics that interfere. Every voice is distinct. All the foreign accents are genuine. All the foreign languages are correctly spoken. His reading is hypnotic.
This book is the climax of the trilogy but it could be read alone. it's well worth reading thru the other two to get to it. Every moment is gripping. The suspense is nearly unbearable.
Don't start it unless you can entirely give over your life to it. Don't listen while driving -- you may have to pull off the road. Don't listen while going to sleep -- you'll never get to sleep.
The characters come to life immediately. There is no over-writing here. No extra words. It is as spare as the Scandinavian landscape, but rich in emotion. And the narration is perfect, foreboding and sonorous with all of the characters easily distinguished just by the tone of voice. Bramhall's voice is deep as the ocean, actually the perfect voice for a hypnotist, calm and reassuring which is especially effective given the bizarre turns of plot, and in fact this book is mesmerizing. You will be hypnotized along with the patients. Also Bramhall pauses at all the right moments. You don't have to scroll back to figure out what's going on, you know what's going on, and yet each moment is completely new and unpredictable.
There are almost too many to choose from, but I would say that the group therapy session the hypnotist conducts with his patients was one of the scariest scenes I have ever come across in a book--and this wasn't even the climax! If you ever thought about becoming a therapist, this scene would make you very glad you chose a different path. At this point, you start to realize what this poor therapist has gotten himself into.
I loved all of the patients -- they are so absolutely nutty that they're both scary and funny.
Oh yes, I had to discipline myself. I listen to books while working out and i lost a lot of weight during this one.
Best book I've listened to since Stieg Larson's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Like Mikhail, the journalist in that book, the hypnotist here is the only person looking for the truth and the only one capable of finding it. Just when you think things couldn't get any worse, they get worse. Delicious!
This is the best book I've read/listened to this year, including the 3rd book in Stieg Larsson's trilogy. The plot comes entirely from the characters -- no deus ex machina. The characters grow and develop. The changes in Russia from WW II, to Stalinism, to post-stalinism create villains and heroes, but the lines get blurred in this utterly credible book. Shows how evil takes hold of us, but then how the struggle against it empowers us. Great young author and the reader is superb, turning the book into a drama with his voice. I want to read this author's next book (already available in paperbook) but I'm torn -- I really want to hear it read by this same narrator. I hope Audible gets it soon.
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