This book is an evidence that even excellent writers like Lawrence Block can do poorly. For the first time ever -and i can tell you i've read MANY books of LB- i got bored . The plot is repetitive and the too long story dilute the interest that the unusual main character and the dark sense sense of humor initially create. I need to go back to a Matt Scudder story
This book is written as an autobiographic diary, and, at first, one can find it a bit obvious, if not boring, as the main character, Logan Montstuart (LMS), writes about his experiences of young middle-class boy going to public school and discovering life. But then quickly the story grows in intensity, interest and emotions, as Boyd draws his character with more decisive strokes and blends him in the “air du temps”. In his 85 years of life, LMS (a writer, art dealer, spy, professor and many things more) goes through the most complex periods and events of the 20th century not as a hero, but simply as a close witness. He happens to meet famous people (Picasso, Hemmingway, Virginia Wolff, Ian Fleming and Edward VIII, to name a few) to live in different countries and continents, to be involved in complex plots, but always as a witness or rather as someone that casually happens to be there rather than somebody truly driving his life and destiny. As he gets old, LMS becomes self reflective on his own experiences and more generally on life and its meaning. The reader, at the beginning a distant witness of his life, becomes more and more involved and moved by the uneven trajectory of LMS, his rise and fall, and his melancholic journey through old age.
The book is far from being perfect (at times one feels that episodes and famous characters are “thrown in” simply to make the story interesting and keep the momentum), but Boyd is a wonderful writer and little by little seduces and engages deeply the reader.
All in all, I truly enjoyed it !
South of France, late 50s…Imagine Dean, a young man a young man dropout of a prestigious university (I immediately thought of James Dean), meeting Marie, a young woman (think of Jean Seberg ) who works as a clerk in a small company. He is rich, reckless, charming and a daydreamer. Drives a luxurious cabriolet, but lives on borrowed money. She is quiet, low profile, modest and passionate. They meet, make love, and travel all over France in his borrowed car. Theirs is affection with sex, probably not love; complicity without true communication, melancholy without dreams. All along there is a lingering sense of disaster inevitably approaching.
James Salter is a wonderful writer: his prose is elegant and delicate and the characters are beautifully sketched out. The sex scenes are explicitly described, but Dean and Marie feelings are portrayed in a fuzzy, tentative way as they were a distant dream. The sense of the passing time –that is so present in all his books- and the magnificent atmosphere of the changing seasons in South of France are a wonderful background to the story.
A great book of a superb author.
I was not familiar with the author, but a ravish review from a listener i am following - thanks Mindusk.-;) - triggered my curiosity and i finally decided to go for it. I am glad i did it : i spent 16 hours of pure enjoyment . The plot sounds trivial : the fairytale life of a successful businessman and adored husband comes abruptly to an end in 24 hours : betrayed by the people he loved and trusted, he is financially ruined, physically handicapped after barely surviving a car crash and jailed. From then onwards it is only a matter of survival and revenge . Sounds familiar ? It is , but this book is much more than a new take of the Montecristo count or similar stories. It is engaging, exceptional and complex and very well written. A pure enjoyment !
This is more a book addressed to students that need to learn about the different aspects of the Incas civilization for a specific exam, than to "average Joe" interested to learn about the history of a great civilization in all its vibrant aspects . The clash with the Spaniards and the end of the Incas empire is dealt quickly in the last chapter , almost as it was an addendum to the details of the religious ceremonials or of the variety of the Incas pottery.
The recording (and at times the reading) of prof D'Altroy is at times poor ; not a big deal, but gives a sense of sloppiness
A very complex plot set in the South Africa , a vibrant country full of contrasts and charms. Deon Meyer delivers yet a very readable and enjoyable book. Having been a fan of Deon Meyer from his beginning, i have however a couple of criticisms to make. First, it seems that too much emphasis is made on keeping the story moving fast ,upbeat, at all the time tense. Second, Meyer seems to focus more on engineering a complex and articulated plot than on developing the characters. The first Meyer's books were perhaps slow moving , but the reader would enter into the atmosphere of the country and the depth of the characters. This is what am looking for (even in a thriller book) and , ultimately, what makes the difference between a "good" and a "great" book.
I’ve read in “real time” all the Scudder’s books as they were published, but the pleasure to listen to listen to them few years later has not changed. In this story we find a Matt Scudder going trough a more settled period of his life (living with Elaine and working with TJ , almost like a “normal” detective). The plot is a more conventional of a mystery/thriller story –and a bit reminiscent of Agatha Christie. A group of young 31 "honorable" men engage themselves to meet every year –bound in a sort of life-long fraternity- until the last remaining member alone will be alive. After a few years one member suspects that too many of them are dying too young and in too large numbers. Scudder is hired to investigate and…..
This mystery has a pleasant pace with an intriguing scenario supported by great dialogue and interesting NY characters. A must read !
If you've a vague or no idea of the ancient Greek history and you'd like to know the big picture , this book is for you. The history is presented with clarity and it is easy to follow. However for more knowledgeable readers this is far too light , i.e more an high school book than a source for more academic information. The author goes trough smoothly major events and anecdotes without really trying to raise and discuss more interesting issues that go behind battles and kings.
The first Comoran Strike book was a truly surprise where a well-known writer like JKR could establish herself as a credible and engaging thriller writer. A solid and interesting plot, well carved out characters and a great atmosphere made the The Cuckoos Calling a very enjoyable reading experience.
This second book meets only partially the expectations raised by the first episode of what appears now to be a series. The plot is unduly complex and not so credible; all the characters –with the exception of Comoran and his assistant – could potentially be the killer (so there are really no clues to pick up here and there and it feels like the author choses him through a lottery at the very end of the story). The main character, Comoran Strike, comes across a bit pedantic and mousy with a continue self-pity for his physical condition and the unresolved end of relationship with his ex.
Do not get me wrong: this is still a reasonably good book and I had no difficulty in finishing it; however the expectations were (too) high and have not been matched…
Matthew Scudder’ s books are not the typical detective story where a detective -the good guy- solves a mystery of a murder and gets the bad guy behind the bars and where suspense, violence and intensity are the basic ingredients of the plot. There is a bit (at times a lot) of all this in Scudder’s stories, but there is much more. Scudder is continuously in a soul-searching mode, engaged in a journey towards redemption from his demons (alcohol, bad memories, life failures). He does all this without rhetoric or drama; he is a man with a natural sense of self-reflection combined with a self-deprecating sense of humour. He is also smart, though when needed and a great at reading people behaviours.
In this particular book Scudder is asked to help solve the mystery of the death of a prosperous lawyer; a presumed killer is caught by the police, but …. Other more personal events cross Matt’s journey toward the truth and allow different levels of reflection, which the standards detective books do not usually do.
New York provides a fantastic background to the story and Joe Barret is as good as it gets.
The book is off to a great start : the reader is immediately taken into the suspense of what appears to be a very captivating story where personal passions, politics and mistery are intermingled and the main characters seem like the pieces of a grand chess game that is played in Cairo, Budapest, Washington....But little by little the readers' excitment fades away : too many characters , too many useless details and too many levels of a story too complicated . Steinhauer knows how to write : his characters are credible and you can smell the scent of Cairo when it talks about the city , but , by losing focus,he fails to maintain the right tension and the sense of purpose and loses the reader attention. By the end of the book i was no longer engaged ...and was glad it was finished.
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