This is one of the early Matt Scudder's stories. You can tell that Lawrence Block is still working on Matt's character , but the story runs smooth with a terrific description of the New York "ambiance" . Definitively a good reading !
I enjoyed the first two books of the trilogy, and was looking forward to the third episode. Deception was waiting for me : Follet seems have run out of steam and inspiration. The book focuses and leverages on the great events that have characterized the world since WW2 from the Cuba crisis to the election of President Obama. The members of the four families that had given the tread to the plot in the first two books happen to be (can you believe it?!) all very close to the main figures and the events that made the history. So, one is working closely with Krutchev , one the the assistant to Bobby Kennedy and another a German politician that fled East Germany in 1948… Follet then uses them to give an “insider view “ of the history of the past 60 years. The results are disappointing: it is a succession of anecdotes and superficial analysis that add nothing to our understanding and memories of the past years.. As a result, the characters become very sketchy and the story plot unexciting as the focus is now the BIG PICTURE (but a big picture superficially described).
Boy, I am glad it is over.
The novel follows the criminal career path of Joe Coughlin, one of the sons of a corrupt police officer described in Lehane’s prior book “The Given Day” (which have not YET read).
It’s a though gangster story with likable and authentic characters, an engaging plot, witty and realistic dialogue and moments of real suspense alternated with times of reflection and observation of Florida and Cuba in the prohibition times. A thoroughly thrilling and satisfying read in every way.
If you know Dennis Lehane , this is a book at par with the prior ones ; if you do not, here is an excellent opportunity to discover a great writer !
Penn Cage, a successful prosecutor from Houston and famous author of legal thrillers, returns to his boyhood home in Natchez, Mississippi following his wife's death. Suddenly , almost by chance, Cage finds himself reopening a cold case , relating to the murder of the union leader Del Payton that has remained unsolved for thirty years. In the midst of a storm of racial tensions, crime and political intrigue in which all the major suspects are playing The Quiet Game, a game of waiting to see who breaks first.
The book is developing along a solid and very articulated plot where Penn Cage turns every stone and finds embarrassing trues for a number of well established citizens of Natchez. The beginning is slow as the writer defines the settings, sketches out the various characters and immerses us in the unique Mississipi atmosphere. Then the story picks up momentum and becomes fast paced and the (not without some credibility issues) and the detective thriller turns into a legal thriller with dramatic turns and twists in the court that lead to the –predictable- “grand final “.
I found that – in the second half of the book- there is probably way too much action (shooting/running..) which results in a trade-off between suspense and adrenaline versus psychological analysis and credibility (and that makes Penn Cage turn into a Sylvester Stallone). Also, once we get at the end of the story we realize that the universe of characters is made by either very good or very bad guys…This is not real life, but thrillers are not meant to be about real life..
Nevertheless this is a truly enjoyable book, very well written. Looking forward more of Greg Iles stories…
PS : I’ve read a couple of reviews mentioning that there is too much sex. In truth, sex is very mild, but it is difficult to understand why some readers can live with violence, murder, bad words and get edgy when read hints that the main characters at some point in the story make love and enjoy it. Also, isn’t sex (and more generally the lust) part of real life and a key to understand the true essence of people ? More sex in your next books , please Mr Iles
Like in the most romantic stories, Amy and Nick, young, good-looking, and somewhat successful writers meet at a party in New York, fall in love and get married. Five years later very little - if anything – of the magic has remained. They have lost their job and moved to a small town in the mid-west. All of a sudden, Amy is missing. And from there, a more and more surprising and devious plot develops, supported by the elegant and witty style of a Gillian Flynn, a very talented writer.
The story transcends the basics of the thriller plot (is Amy dead? Did Nick kill her?) and talks cleverly about the disillusion of a couple that grows cynical about their own relationship (when reality substitutes the image that each partner had presented initially), about life in small-town America (versus New York )and the power and influence of the media .
The first half of the book –the one talking about the story of Amy and Nick prior to her disappearing and about the first couple of days of Amy missing- is so well written and engaging that made me think that this was truly the best book I had read for a long time. From then onwards, however, the story starts getting unduly complex and loses the elegant momentum it had initially.
Many readers find the end disappointing; I rather think that is “cerebral” as if Gillian Flynn felt the need to construct rationally an end that would be “psychologically consistent” with the trajectory of the main characters. I would have preferred something coming more from the guts..
Despite the shortcomings, I enjoyed tremendously the book and had great time in reading it .
I love Alain Furst , a truly good writer with an incredible insight into the years preceding the second world war and the capability to beautifully describe characters and atmospheres... But , this time again, the plot is weak with no momentum and clear direction. So the reader get lost (or bored) and loses gradually interest for the story.
Daniel Gerroll is by far not fitting the bill and his narration is at time embarrassing.
All in all, a deception!
I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, one can find the strengths of Connelly’s books (and of the Harry Bosh saga): a linear story, a very solid and credible plot, characters well depicted and a catchy Los Angeles providing as usual a great background to the action. However, somehow the book is not engaging as most of the Bosh stories used to be. May be is Bosh that has aged: from the passionate, intense, almost dark hero that used to be, Harry is now a grumpy, a bit cynical cop flirting with (and fighting) retirement. Glimpses into his private life –that should provide pauses and contrast to the thriller plot- are frankly boring: he is a worrying father to a teenage girl without really other interest or relationship. This is emblematic of the lost charisma of Bosh and a key to understand why this book is less engaging than the first ones of the series. I must however say that, in relative terms, is by far not the worse book that Connelly has recently written. In fact, in absolute terms, the book is overall a good experience and had no problems in keeping up through the (good) end.
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
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