I found both the story and the narration to be excellent and do not understand the basis for the criticism of the narration.
Let me start with the positives: (1) the book is well written with good use of the the English language; (2) the discussions of trade craft are interesting; (3) the use of Russian phrases is is a nice touch as is the author's knowledge of Russian geography; and (4) the performance is very good.
As for the negatives:
1. The main character is is so poorly conceived that it is impossible to suspend disbelief. For example, is it credible for a young female Russian corporal to constantly talk back to senior officers (and get away with it)?
2. The lead character also bases many of her decisions on the color of the "aura" she see around the heads of the other characters. Really?
3. The author is obviously a foodie -- each chapter ends with a recipe for a dish mentioned in that chapter. I found this annoying. Perhaps the author should write a cookbook next time.
Overall, I had a hard time hanging in until the end.
I was disappointed in this book. I have enjoyed Coben's other work; however, this book should have been edited to half its length. I found myself constantly anticipating obvious and unnecessary dialog: frequently a character says the same thing at lest two different ways in case you missed the point.
The story was OK -- not great.
Many other reviewers criticized the narrator but I thought that Scott Brick did a good job.
As an action/adventure story a suspension of disbelief is required. Looked at that way,it is a good story. The narration was OK -- not nearly as bad as some reviewers have said.
Admittedly, I may be a stickler for details . In this book there were a number of obvious errors which should have been caught by an editor or researcher (if not the the author). Two obvious ones are consistently referring to the device that holds the ammunition in a semi-automatic pistol as a "clip" instead of a "magazine" and believing that a senator nominates someone for the Congressional Medal of Honor. Also, apparently, the author believes that the Medal can be awarded for activities undertaken as a civilian.
This is my third Stephen Hunter novel. Although it is the weakest of the three, it is till a good story and kept my attention.
However, the narration detracted substantially form the enjoyment of this book. The narrator frequently "over acts" in a way that is inconsistent with the characters. He also badly mispronounced at least 5 or 6 words. Isn't there an editor who listens to the narration so such mistakes can be avoided? Pay a little more and get someone with talent like Scott B. or George G.
Interestingly, the author/narrator did not do his homework on one small but annoying point: the location of this story -- Arcata -- is pronounced "Ar-kate-a" not "Ar-cat-a." After all, Eisler often includes such details as the model of a particular knife. The story is provides a part of the back-story for a character who appears in other books.
This is the first exception to my belief that authors who read narrate their own books are letting their egos get in the way of a quality product. Eisler is, in fact, an excellent narrator.
This is a poorly conceived and executed story. I have really liked most of Baldacci's books; however, in this one the story is not credible and the dialog strained.
Also, while the male narrator did a decent job, the female narrator was terrible.
Less repetition of previous stories; the characters simply do not ring true as they have in the past; the dialog is often trite.
He could have written it rather than have his much less talented co-author write it.
The narration is, at best, marginal. The story is terrible. The first review has it right. It is one of the very few books I gave up on half way through.
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