I admit I have not read the JP Beaumont book series in chronological order, having read four other books before the first one: Until Proven Guilty. The other books alluded to the tragic backstory of Beaumont's relationship with Anne Corley, all of which is told in Until Proven Guilty.
This turns out to be my least favorite of the books so far, and it's a good thing this is fiction because it strains anyone's ability to believe something like this story could ever happen. Without putting in spoilers, let me say that the Anne Corley that Beau fell in love with was a well-drawn character, beautiful, intelligent, courageous, charming, wise, gentle and passionate. She made a fine match for Beaumont and the story worked right up until the time she became "the other Anne". I do not think "the other Anne" could have co-existed in the same person with the one fleshed out in the first 9/10 of this book, certainly without revealing herself many times over. The few feeble "hints" J.A. Jance laid down for the reader in no way raised any suspicion of what was supposed to be there. This was not a virtue -- it just made the end of the story seem a trumped up ridiculous soap opera that made me want to throw the book into the trash. It was like listening to a top-notch singer who sings the entire last number of a performance badly off-key.
There was no way Anne Corley could have had the past attributed to her in the book; she would have been revealed long ago and become celebrated for it, kind of like the Unabomber was. I so wished for a different resolution of the mystery. If this had been my first Beaumont novel I might not have continued reading the later ones, which are much less melodramatic and make far better detective novels. To his credit, Gene Engene did his usual excellent job of reading all the characters. His reading style makes all the J.A. Jance books all the more enjoyable.
I kept flip-flopping between giving this book a “5” and a “4” rating. I ultimately had to go for “4” because the authors play fast and loose with reality in a way that bugs me, and I hated the outcome of who the arsonist was (even though they dropped a clue halfway through and I then inwardly prayed it wouldn’t be who the clue revealed it to be, but it was). So much more credible if it would have been the creepy archivist who groped Corrie. I was going for the “5” because Preston and Child are great storytellers with a wicked and edgy sense of humor and play havoc with all of the elements of society who I personally despise (like greedy real estate developers and self-righteous private property rights champions etc.) I especially loved the scene where Agent Pendergast took over the public hearing about moving the miners’ cemetery, and I love the Pendergast character in general, plus the way Rene Auberjonois plays him in the audiobook. I also was much intrigued with the story’s connections to Conan Doyle and the Sherlock Holmes adventures. However, I thought Corrie was remarkably naïve in breaking into the warehouse early on, and I could not for a second believe she had any important reason to personally collect data from the ancient miners at the end, certainly not any reason compelling enough to put her life in grave danger. Nor could I come up with any credible reason whatsoever why Mrs. Kermode would be in the same place at the same time. The authors play fast and loose with reality for the sake of the story in lots of ways. Demoded: 5 stars down to 4.
My first reaction on finishing A Case of Redemption is that it reminds me, in a formulaic sense of some of the J.P. Beaumont novels of J.A. Jance -- in particular the one in which Beaumont found out the love of his life, Ann Corley, was an avenging angel, aka a killer, and he had to shoot her. What a stupid plot twist that was, and it ruined that particular novel.
The same can be said of the present one. I thoroughly enjoyed the buildup of suspense right up until the time the accused, "Legally Dead" or "LD", as he was called, was going to testify in his murder trial. How much better the book would have been if Mitzner had followed through on that and nailed the real killer through his testimony. (I had a premonition something was going to go wrong when we got a preview of L.D.'s testimony before it was to happen). Then the book took a very wrong turn, in my opinion, and became a boring, sappy melodrama that had me groaning, ugh, ugh, ugh all the way to the end.
I also agree that in the real world there was no physical evidence linking L.D. to the crime, and the judge was right on when she told the courtroom, anyone who talks about murdering a singer with a basebat bat in a rock song and then actually goes out and does this is about the stupidest person on the planet. That alone points the finger strongly at someone else trying to set L.D. up. Plus, we never find out in the book at all why the killer murdered Roxanne in the first place.
Kevin Collins did a good job on the characters' voices, especially L.D., Judge Pielmeier, and the lawyer Benjamin Ethan. His first person narration of the protagonist, Daniel Sorenson, was a bit whiny and effeminate, but that fit the character well.
This was an effective book. Complicated story, many characters to keep track of. Too much back story on almost everyone of them. However, in the end, Kate Atkinson delivered a credible tale of why a murder occurred years before, and why it was so effectively covered up until some of the investigators decided to look into it again. In addition to the mystery there is much examination of the pain resulting from bad decisions made among family members in a complex web of relationships.
It just occurred to me that this book is the quintessential anti-fairy tale with the most ironic, unhappy "happy" ending. Gillian Flynn has a good grasp of the phoniness of many relationships in our society today, and what makes things go wrong between men and women. That said, the story of Amy and Nick is so extreme that these characters have slipped from the realm of being real people to being the caricatures the author has imagined in her most twisted projection of what could happen if you paired a brilliant, mostly unhinged woman with an "ordinary"guy. It keeps you listening but strains your suspension of disbelief and the ending is a lead balloon.
The narration of the story by the alternating male and female readers was effective and convincing. Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyboure were good choices to portray the voices of Amy and Nick.
M.J. Rose is a good writer with an admirable flair for narrative and description, a believable knowledge of geography and history, and the ability to weave a suspenseful tale that keeps you interested. The story, involving "proof" of reincarnation by being able to access past lives (and particularly, past lovers) through mystical fragrances, was intriguing enough to buy and listen to the entire audiobook. That said, the story throughout has exaggerated human response and by the end, a simply hokey and nauseating amount of melodrama. The big sex scene may appeal to romance aficianados but to me was so extreme that it was more like the birth of a universe than a mere sex scene. The ending just dropped the ball as well, an anticlimax if there ever was one. Important note: Phil Gigante was not the right reader for this book. His style is monotonous, there are only two voices - "male" and "female" or maybe four, if you include "Chinese female" and "Chinese male". Worst, he has no knowledge of French whatsoever and mangles the pronunciation of French words and phrases enough to make you wince many times. Ouch!
Michael Connelly seldom fails to astonish me with his ability to spin a fabulously entertaining and complex novel, time after time. I also think his Hieronymous (aka "Harry") Bosch is one of the best characters in modern detective fiction. He's tough, courageous, hard-boiled, supremely intelligent, relentless, tireless in the pursuit of scumbags, bucks authority, but has a soft side for the innocent, weak and downtrodden, such as the daughter "Maddy" he didn't know he had. I LOVE the Harry Bosch character.
In Lost Light, Connelly has a complex, multi-layered mystery that keeps you enthralled from beginning to end. Everything fits together seamlessly. The unravelling and the resolution, while gritty and unsettling, are believable (unfortunately in our violent modern world), and in the context of human greed, but make you root for Harry to keep going until the last evil perpetrator has been revealed and dealt with. I couldn't stop reading (read "listening", since I listened to it as an audiobook). I was sorry for the book to end!
Len Cariou is a great reader. He totally gets the nuances of the various characters' behavior and speech and adds a dimension to the "reading" of the book not possible if you are reading the hardcover version.
Probably not. Too many other books to listen to.
It was great fun to play with Stephen King's premise of repeatedly going back in time to
Jake Epping/George Amberson himself -- the narrator.
I don't want to give it away as it would be spoiler.
It was relatively easy to come up with a laundry list of all the possible ways Jake/George could be stopped from killing Oswald before the latter shot Kennedy, (bodily violence, car wrecks etc.) and most them were in the book. I guess this is signature Stephen King but I'd hoped for some more imaginative devices. But King did a good job with the suspense for what actually did happen when the encounter took place. Then what happened? It was pure
In this audiobook, the portrayal of old man Jacob by John Randolph Jones was spot on. The enactment of the young Jacob by David LeDoux was good, but a little bit monotonous in tone. He did do a good job on the other characters' voices, making them sound different from Jacob. The book was well-written, with excellent characters who all had distinct personalities, and dialogue that rang true. I bought the depression era plight of a young veterinary student doubly shocked at losing his parents and then their home. This made a credible segue to his becoming the veterinarian for the Benzini Brothers circus. Ms. Gruen does a believable portrayal of the Depression era, the working class, and the animals in the menagerie. The story flows well, but is a bit melodramatic to my taste, in spots. The love story between Jacob and Marlena works, but is a little long in development. At first I did not see the relevance of the old Jacob interludes in the story, but they did lead to a sweet and appropriate ending to the book.
I have one issue which maybe someone could answer. I don't understand the relationship of the prologue to the rest of the book. The text of the prologue duplicates the climactic event of the book itself, yet has a completely different outcome, and one that contradicts what happened "in real life". I don't understand why there should be such a contradiction, and it wasn't explained by something like "and then I woke up from the dream". Instead, the prologue merely ends with "in 70 years I never told a single soul" or something like this. So why do we have a difference of fact between two parts of the book? It is jarring and strange. I also note that in the movie, the character, Uncle Al, was deleted when the screenplay was written.
Besides being endlessly repetitious, I disagree with Gardner’s premise that expert predictions, especially those of what he terms“hedgehogs” who have a certainty about their predictions, are almost always wrong. Gardner’s reasoning lacks (1) an accurate frame of reference and (2) is completely non-scientifically supported. For example, Paul Ehrlich, predicted massive famines, resource depletion and environmental degradation as a result of overpopulation (and endless growth). Gardner emphatically claims, over and over, that Ehrlich was wrong, because his predictions of human and environmental catastrophes that were supposed to occur in the 1970’s didn’t happen.
If you read Ehrlich carefully, he does not state with certainty that everything he predicts will come true in the 1970’s – only that it will come true, eventually. Simple logic will tell you that. The human population cannot continue expanding indefinitely. The earth is finite. Sooner or later, human numbers will outstrip both food supply and the ability of the earth to produce enough food. Sooner or later petroleum, copper, titanium, etc. are all going to run out, and it will not be possible to produce the products that depend on them, except at exorbitant cost. The more people, the less resources per capita and the bigger the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots”. This is not a recipe for a peaceful and stable future.
Ehrlich’s message is really that we have to be aware that there are limits to growth and to our consumptive way of life. What Gardner does not state but implies through omission, is that we can blithely go on with whatever profligate agenda we have in mind, and something will always come along to mitigate our effects. I don’t personally believe this. Sooner or later the piper will have to be paid, and fundamentally Ehrlich is right.
Gardner has his own ax to grind, and he does so ceaselessly. Perhaps his form of babble makes him the biggest hedgehog of them all.
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