You've seen this plot a million times. In fact, you've seen stories based on the family the novel obviously alludes to a million times. The "Gregorys" are a rich, politically connected Massachusetts family that does whatever it wants. A lot of good in the bigger sense...but a lot of amoral actions on a private level. The novel starts with one such instance -- the rape of a young woman by two of the family's sons. George Becket, a casual friend of the sons (and the novel's protagonist) witnesses the crime but keeps his mouth shut even after the girl's family "messenger" (the girl is rich by her own rights) asks him (in no uncertain terms) to serve as a witness.
Cut to twelve years later. George is now working at the D.A.'s office. He is plagued by guilt over his earlier inaction so when the father of a murdered girl proclaims that the Gregorys were to blame and asks him to investigate, he accepts. His search threatens both George and his career. What's more, as he delves into the Gregory's past, George discovers that his earlier failure to act affected his own life in ways he could not have imagined.
So it's not particularly original, you say, why the four stars? Well, it's actually pretty well written (for a rich-family-gets-away-with-murder story). It got me from the get-go and I could not wait to see what would happen next. Perhaps the fact that our "hero" is (by his own admission) a rather weak and flawed character makes the story stronger somehow.
A word of caution: the narrator, in my opinion, is simply awful. He reads every single sentence with such exaggerated drama that it makes the writing seem ridiculous (there were times when I had to "imagine" I was reading the words on a page so as to get the tone I was sure the author intended). Listen to the sample before you buy to see whether you think you might be able to get past him,
(Note to audible: PLEASE let us review with half stars! Hate when giving a book four is too much but giving it three is not enough!)
I think the problem some of the other reviewers are having is that this book was compared to Gone Girl. Not fair. It's like Gone Girl in the sense that it's about a bad relationship that's careening towards disaster -- and in that the story is dark and full of psychological tension. It's not like Gone Girl in mostly everything else.
Take the main female character. In Gone Girl she is narcissistic and self-absorbed (and that was almost the root of her problem) . In The Silent Wife, as the title implies, the self-effacing wife is willing to take what little love she can get…until, of course, it appears that she might lose it all (her character flaw is her weakness). In fact, I think that the announcer that so many reviewers hate plays her quite well.
I, for one, enjoyed the darkness. The seeming inevitability of what's coming. Hope the author writes a second.
Isabel Allende's first mystery novel. Not surprisingly, the mystery itself is secondary to the many magical characters Allende brings to life. And yet, the puzzle the teenage members of the role-playing game (Ripper) are trying to solve grabs you from the beginning and doesn't let you go. Yes, some of the plot is far-fetched…but it wouldn't be Allende if there were no elements that were a tad fantastical. Edoardo Ballerini is the perfect reader for this. I have said before that he could read a phone book and I would listen. It was sheer pleasure to have him read Allende's novel. Definitely recommend.
I read Rowling's other non-Potter book (the one she wrote under a pseudonym) and found it entertaining but mediocre. I expected the same reaction to this one and had therefore put off listening to it. When I did, I was totally surprised by how much I liked it. So much so that I laid in bed until well past two in the morning listening to the end (something I rarely do)--ergo the five stars even though this is not 'high' literature.
The Casual Vacancy is a story about the dark hidden lives of the inhabitants of a small country town. (Yes, not a very original theme but so very well done by Rowling.) The characters are dark, Very dark. Sometimes their meanness astounds you. In fact, they are all mean, except in varying degrees -- the only 'solid' good guy appears to be the character who dies in the first few pages of the book, leaving "the casual vacancy" in the town's council. (Had he lived, no doubt we would have found he had his secrets as well. Nobody is blameless here.)
The things that happen as a result of the characters inner flaws and demons are catastrophic, but easy to believe. In fact, Rowling makes them seem inevitable. A train without brakes going downhill.
I hope she writes more novels like this. And I hope Tom Hollander reads them. I will be sure to listen.
Perhaps if it had been written by someone else I would have liked it better. While "OK," it simply did not live up to Michael Connelly. Certainly not to The Lincoln Lawyer.
The story does not have as many surprising twists and turns. And the character development is nowhere near as good.
Some of it has to do with the fact that this is part of a series--and that Connelly feels obliged to explain some of the characters' absences (Like the fact that the daughter is not talking to our hero at this stage of this life…If this were a stand-alone novel, she would not have even been mentioned. Here, her absence is a recurring theme, but the main character is not given enough depth to make his 'anguish' believable). There are also a lot of "fast forwards," where relationships have been established two seconds after you first read about the characters meeting. Obviously, as another reviewer mentioned, this is more the basis for a screenplay than a novel. As such, The Gods of Guilt will probably be more satisfying as a movie.
I had read another review where the reviewer had absolutely loved the book until the end, where she felt the author started to "pontificate." I couldn't agree more.
The story is absolutely amazing -- at times charming, at times sad, at times hilariously funny, at times heartbreaking.The plot moves in crazy directions, making it sound like almost different novels put together (from a very intimate portrayal of a kid going through loss…to a mad caper through the back alleys of Amsterdam)…and yet it works. You don't mind accompanying Theo on his road trip through life. I LOVED it from the very beginning and simply could not put it down.
AND THEN come the last couple of hours, where the narrator seems to lose confidence in her amazing skill and she has the main character ramble on and on and on and on (and on) about 'the meaning of life.' No! No! No! That was totally unnecessary (and condescending and pedantic), Donna. We GOT IT! You did a great job getting us to GET IT. There was no need for the sudden (and boring) style change. (Where was the editor???)
As I was reading the book, I kept thinking, "HOW could you not give this book five stars, no matter if that reviewer is right and it fails a bit at the end?" And yet, as it turns out, I could not give it five stars because of that excruciating two-hour homily towards the end (perhaps it was just an hour, but it felt longer).
Still, I recommend The Goldfinch. The other 28 hours were absolutely great.
The narrator is excellent. Loved him so much that I went to see what else he had done (to my dismay, he has done a lot of kid books…and I had actually listened to most of his few adult books already).
Grisham is not back. While Sycamore Row is slightly better than the author's last novel, the writing is just as lazy. I could not make myself finish it. Quite simply, I was too bored! Plus, the stereotypical portrayal of blacks and "rednecks" is hard to take. Even the 'smart' black woman who manages to crawl out of the family garbage to become the lawyer's secretary is a stereotype -- and perhaps there so that people don't outright protest Mr. Grisham's condescension/racist portrayals. The narrator might be making it worse (making every black and/or poor character sound mildly retarded), but I don't think so.
Then there's the question of the "hero." He makes it quite clear that his main preoccupation is his own financial situation, so not much there to admire. (At one point he convinces the beneficiary that she does not need her own lawyer….but when there's an offer of a settlement, he says to the other attorneys that he does not have to relay the offer to her because he is not her lawyer. So he duped her? So much for hero.)
However, like I said, the reason I could not finish it was mainly boredom. SO predictable. In fact, I got halfway through and I can pretty much tell you what the (SPOILER ALERT, even though I have not finished the book:) "surprise" ending will be: the long lost brother is found; it will turn out that he and his brother witnessed a horrific crime by their family against Lettie's family -- possible their father raping Lettie's mother; that is why the old man left her the money. So there. I could not put up with another 6 hours to hear what I am sure I pretty much guessed hours ago.
I plan to get my credit back.
I had never read anything by this author and have to say I really enjoyed her writing. She talks about the pain and suffering of daily life -- and how the smallest twists and turns can derail someone's path -- but with a lot of wit. I found myself laughing out loud many times, but also identifying with many of the characters' anguish.
The story has a few implausible coincidences and I guessed the "husband's secret" almost immediately, but neither thing affected my enjoyment. Like I said in the headline to this review, I was sorry to leave the characters behind when the book was over. I immediately downloaded another book by Moriarty ("The Hypnotist's Love Story") to see if it would be inhabited by similar people. So far, it's not as good as The Husband's Secret, but still a fun read.
I agree, this is not The Stand (would have given the story three and a half stars if I could have -- but not four). Still, King's trademark cast of many characters (most either very, very good or very, very bad) and the way they react under pressure kept me hooked from beginning to end. The explanation behind The Dome is a bit disappointing, but in a way perfectly explains what the novel is about: human nature -- and how quickly society can come apart when faced with unknown duress.
I was an avid King fan years ago and stopped listening when his novels seemed to be aimed at younger and younger audiences. I was glad I decided to listen to this one.
Raul Esparza was a brilliant narrator. This was the first time I have listened to one of his reads. Will have to keep an 'ear' out for others.
The premise was excellent. The writing simply didn't live up to it.
The parts where the protagonist is young and "innocent" are way too simplistic. The effort to build suspense is too painstaking and heavy handed. The language that the author creates to show the power of words is almost ridiculous. Most of the characters are one-dimensional, even the ones who supposedly 'change' do so in very predictable ways.
Maybe this is a novel for teens and I missed that. It was certainly not for me. I could not make myself finish it.
The male narrator is not bad. The female narrator is grating.
I will assume you've read the publisher's summary (the book is about a mad experiment to clone famous serial killers, etc., etc.).
Apparently, there was a YA book released with this book written from the perspective of one of the clones (who pairs with the main protagonist to try to solve the mystery). Well, I can't imagine how much more YA than THIS version it can be. Except for the incredibly vicious, brutal (and oftentimes gratuitous) depictions of violence, this certainly did not feel like an adult novel.
Or perhaps the plot was simply too ambitious to leave room for much of anything else (such as character development). The sheer amount of space that had to be devoted to explaining who all these serial killers were created many stops-and-starts along the story.
All in all, it seemed to ramble.
If you're looking for a good clone-from-evil story, read the classic, The Boys from Brazil, instead.
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