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.
I have to admit I was disappointed simply because I really loved the author's first two novels. Those were full of unexpected (REALLY unexpected, as opposed to those in the novel at hand) twists: the ending in "Losing Faith" was way too predictable. I saw it coming a third into the book. In fact, it was SO predictable that I kept waiting for the plot-beyond-the-plot-twist and kept imagining what that would be...except it never went beyond the predicable ending. THAT SAID, the book kept me thoroughly entertained (if ultimately a tad disappointed) through a very long drive and I will definitely read the author's next. (Ergo the four stars for "overall.")
As to the NARRATOR: a subject onto itself on this audiobook: "WHAT. WERE. YOU. THINKING?" His audible intakes of breaths during the regular narration are bad enough (SERIOUS intakes of breath throughout)...but he makes the dialogue sound absolutely RIDICULOUS. Would even consider PAYING and listening to another reader). For some characters, I am sure he's pinching his nose. For others, perhaps he is channeling Omer Simpson. Whatever you're doing, Mr. Caploe, STOP! It turns the whole book into a CARTOON.
I love Jo Nesbo. I didn't love Blood on Snow (although I have to admit I LOVED the ending). Overall, the story lacked the depth and hyper-reality of most Nesbo novels (not surprisingly, it is quite short). And the narrator!!!! Never mind the monotone read (it sometimes works with Nesbo's cadence and darkness)... I could not understand why the producers of this audio book chose a female reader for a book that's told in the first person of a male character. Dumb choice.
I usually don't like it when books have multiple readers, but in "The Kind Worth Killing," the readers add to the experience. They are all great. And the story, while unbelievable at many points, is still really enjoyable and full of fun twists. Definitely recommend it.
There are plots and subplots which will hook you from the very beginning (with a very likable main character to boot), so for that it would give it four stars. However, when the mystery finally unravels, it falls a little flat on its face--so for that I would have to take at least a half star away. Still, I will recommend it as an entertaining mystery. Christopher Lane, as always, does an excellent job with the narration.
The story is a lot of fun...but told a tad too fast. So that the change from wimp to empowered avenger happens too quickly and the revenge is almost too easy. STILL, I highly recommend it for sheer enjoyment. It's always fun to see the good guys win.
I know that's a strange word to use in describing a mystery where the main character is a rich snob, but that's what this novel is: delightful. A pleasure to get into the protagonist's head and follow along as he gets ensnared in the murder of his legal firm's managing partner and his perfectly ordered life crumbles. Very enjoyable. Definitely would recommend. (It's a shame that his second book got slammed by almost every reviewer who had loved this one...so I am anxiously awaiting his third. Hopefully that one will be as good as "Death on a High Floor.")
Great story of interconnected stories. Great characters, with more depth than one usually expects in a typical police procedural because it's more than a mere police procedural--it's a story about inner conflicts and demons, about love and friends and choosing between what's right and what's wrong when love and friends are involved. I will look for more from this author, in both his aliases.
I almost didn't download this because I thought it would be impossible to craft anything truly engrossing in such a short time. The truth is that it didn't feel like a novel. As I suspected, too short. However, if viewed as a novella (or a long short story), it was outstanding. Great story. Delivered in layers (the 'present time' is less than a day, the flashbacks recount a time seven years earlier). Excellent performances.
Roller-coaster from beginning to end, with a very likable protagonist. Will have to look at more Winslow books.
I loved "The Troop" and actually saved "The Deep" for an upcoming trip. What a disappointment!!! In The Troop, the characters come alive amidst the horror. In The Deep, the characters remain shallow and unbelievable. Not a single one becomes real. And the story, quite frankly, never progresses. Creepy, horrific thing after creepy, horrific thing happens to the protagonists but I, for one, did not care. And don't be deceived by the promise of what this author could do with a plague that makes people forget (two thirds of the publisher's summary devoted to this theme)...the book itself deals with this issue for about as long as the publisher's summary. Perhaps if I had not kept waiting for the book to return to that subject, I would not have been so impatient with the novel. Did the author forget...?
Mr. Cutter is a great craftsman, in total command of his words. The writing is indeed good. Wish the story was better.
Mr. Brill does a phenomenal job with the narration. I probably would not have bothered to finish it were it not for him.
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