This is one of those instances where I wish Audible allowed reviewers half stars. This one really deserved 2 ½. (I reserve five stars for absolutely-loved; four for really-liked; three for OK; and 1 for did-not-finish…Leaving 2 stars to cover both finished-but-hated-it and finished-but-did-not-really-like-it. The two are really quite different and this one is more of the later.)
The plot is unbelievable. It starts with the accidental discovery of a skeleton in a construction site. The body, of course (you kind of expect it, so I don’t think this is a terrible spoiler), happens to be one of two girls murdered 11 years earlier. Coincidentally (there are way too many of these coincidences throughout the book), the guy who was convicted of the murders has just been released from prison after serving a ten-year sentence. There is a traffic accident involving his mother and the two bumbling investigators go to his village to investigate.
The investigators are apparently the stars of the series (this is the first to be translated, but not the first in the series). Quite frankly, I am shocked they have a following. They are absolutely incompetent as “sleuths.” At one point, the author writes: “The pieces of the puzzle were falling in place as if by themselves.” And that is precisely what happens. It seems that everyone in the village is guilty of something or another and everyone confesses or gets discovered purely by chance. There is one instance, I kid you not, where the suspect disappears and the two "investigators" say to each other (I paraphrase): “I thought you were taking him to the station!” “What? I thought you were!”
There are also some things that are never fully explained. (Why one character hid a will that would have made his family rich, for example.)
I found most of the characters, even the protagonist, unlikeable. Our "hero" went to prison after getting so drunk eleven years earlier that he simply could not remember what happened during an entire night. And yet, mere days after getting out of prison, he proceeds to do the exact same thing! If ten years in prison for a crime you don’t remember committing don’t cure you of binge drinking, what will?
I didn't really hate the novel but it is, at best, mediocre. Like I said, two-and-half stars: Finished it but did not really like it.
This was such an unexpected treat. Touching. Funny. Real. And ultimately uplifting.
The narration is also perfect. In fact, I went in search of more books read by this author and found, to my extreme surprise, that there was a sequel. Of course I downloaded it, knowing that it could never match "600 Hours," but I was simply glad not to have to let go of Edward just yet.
I listened to this book over a weekend, which is roughly the timeframe of the story...so I felt that I had spent those days with the characters. Laugh-out-loud funny and tragic at the same time, with the most preposterous things happening but told in a way that makes them make total sense. "OF COURSE, he takes the dead dog along!" Highly enjoyable. Very human. Very well done.
Vampires, kidnapped babies, scientific mysteries, international intrigue, romance, Dan Simmons....How could it have turned into such a tedious listen???? I am convinced that Mr. Simmons needed a way to make his trip to Hungary tax-deductible. He clearly did not give the plot of this novel much thought. As the reviewers have said, the narrator was not great (and some of the characters did end up sounding ridiculous), but the author was much more to blame for this audible failure.
First time with this author. I was lured by the exceptional reviews and the promise of a Twilight Zone/paranormal mystery series. Who knows what the story behind the Pines really is...I could not finish it! I kept waiting for the characters to become real, for the plot to go beyond the main character getting away from his captors and being captured again getting away from his captors and being captured again getting......The writing is 'almost' good, but I finally realized that I had listened to HALF the book and was still waiting for it to start. Gave up. No, I cannot recommend it (unless you have endless patience).
If you have never read a John Verdon novel, you're in for a treat...BUT not with this one. Read one of his earlier novels instead (the first two are my favorite). Here, the character slips from likable to ludicrously irresponsible--for no apparent reason...and what''s even worse--since, after all, this is fiction--without the character's usual charm. (You'll wonder why Madeline doesn't hit him over the head with a shovel already.) The mystery itself is not great either. And the protagonist's usual sleuthing skills seem to falter. In fact, you'll probably figure out what happened way before he does. In former Verdon novels, the puzzles are impossible runic cubes that he magically assembles (making you see the reality from a totally different angle than you were expecting). Here it's more of a "hangman's knot." It was still 'entertaining' and perhaps I would not have felt so disappointed if I were not such a fan of this author. Hope the next one is better. I will definitely give him another chance. (The reader is the same reader as in the third in the series. He's good -- a million times better than Scott Brick, who read the second novel and was a horrible choice -- but not as good as the reader of the first novel, who was superb.
I had just finished reading "The Last Anniversary" and at first thought "Big Little Lies" gave away too much, too early...Duped, of course, by Ms. Moriarty. There are twists and turns and surprises all the way along. At the bottom, of course, are the author's incredible character depictions. Her knowledge of the best and worst human nature has to offer. These people are REAL. You have met them (or perhaps you ARE them). And she will make you laugh and cry at the smallness (and largeness) of day-to-day life. Towards the end, you are glued to the story--told expertly, by the way, from many points of view in a way that is particularly suited for an audiobook in the hands (voice?) of Caroline Lee.
I was looking forward to this novel because of the great reviews it seemed to be getting everywhere. Someone (I think in People magazine) compared it to "Gone Girl" (clearly, someone who had not read Gone Girl).
There is very, very little here except one witty, cutting remark after another from the protagonist. And it gets old very, very quickly--particularly because there is absolutely nothing to back it up: no character development (the main character herself is totally unbelievable and it only gets worse with the slew of secondary people...most never progress past the stereotype); no verisimilitude (The plot is based on this girl's quest for her mother's killer. She's released from prison after serving 10 years for the murder...and immediately follows the most implausible of leads EVER -- and I mean EVER -- and, of course, because this book is awful, the lead pans off); no resolution (you keep waiting for some twist to happen...but, no...it's just one runaway train of a plot); no talent (sorry, Ms. Little).
Perhaps if I had not been expecting so much (or if I was a 16-year-old looking for a very light 'mystery' to read on the beach), I would have given it three stars. As it was, I had to force myself to finish it.
The narrator compounds the issue. I found her voice grating and her never-changing inflection (perhaps unavoidable because she had nothing to work on) makes the lines seem even triter than they are.
I wondered about this book because it was written in 2005 and not turned into an audiobook until 2014 (timed with the release of the author's new novel). Thought perhaps audiobooks had ignored it because it was not a very good example of the author's work...and almost ignored it myself. So glad I did not! Like in every Moriarty novel, the story is populated with everyday people who have to deal with highly unusual circumstances (two sisters find an abandoned baby and raise it as their own; an old lady leaves her island house to her grandson's ex-girlfriend...). Moriarty uses her unbelievable knowledge of human nature to make all the characters come to life with wit and compassion--and you feel like you know each and every one. The ending of all her novels are always a little sad simply because you have to say good-bye to the 'people' in them.
The narrator does not do the story any favors. His voice is too monotonous, his pauses too long.
The story itself is not great. A tad too unbelievable. A tad too predictable. A tad too "convenient" in terms of events happening right when they had to.
AND YET, I give it four stars. It kept me entertained to the end. Sometimes, that's exactly what you want.
This is my first Margolin book and I might give another a try.
When I started listening to this story, I realized it was the wrong novel for me at this particular time. I needed something lighter. I kept telling myself I'd stop listening and go back to it at another time...but the writing kept me hooked. Something was going on here that went beyond the two children whose day-to-day lives Doerr was describing.
I am so glad I kept listening. The story builds and builds. The two children's lives connect in magical ways...and towards the last third of the novel, you find yourself holding your breath.
I don't want to give anything away. Does it have a happy ending? Does it have a sad ending? You'll have to listen for yourselves. I highly recommend the experience. It couldn't be more real, or human.
Can't wait for Mr. Doerr's next novel.
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